Upside Down Archaeology at Corfe

Archaeology National Trust SW

It’s a basic rule of archaeology that the deeper you go the older you get. That’s why everything is excavated in sequence. Unpacking the information backwards from most recent to most ancient.

In 1987, we were puzzled by an apparent exception to the rule. It was the second year into the access and display archaeological project at Corfe Castle in Dorset.

Corfe ended its days as a stately residence in 1646. It was captured by parliamentary forces and blown apart. During our excavation campaign we only tended to take away the demolition rubble to reveal walls and pathways at Civil War level.

An important element of the National Trust access plan was to replace in stone the slippery tarmac path which led up the steep slope that crosses the Outer Bailey up through the middle gatehouse to the West Bailey.

In the West Bailey, traces of a wall could be…

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