Trench 1

Oakham was once the site of a Royal Saxon town or 'burh' held by Edward the Confessor. Following the death of Edwards's wife Edith in 1075 the Crown seized the site. It wasn't until 1180 that the then owner of the site, Wilkelin de Ferrers, a nobleman who went on to fight with Richard the Lionheart in the 1st Crusade, replaced the Saxon site with an extensive high-status complex.

The Oakham Castle site is divided into two distinct areas - the inner bailey or ward; consisting of the hall, the surrounding earthworks, the remains of a motte, two towers and an earth and stone built wall - and the outer bailey or ward; consisting of fishponds and earthwork remains. The primary task facing Time Team was to find out what had survived of the 12th century remains within the inner ward. In addition the team hoped to discover evidence for the Anglo Saxon royal 'burh' - although this would prove to be a challenge...

Our strategy relied heavily on the new radar system brought to the site by John Gater and his team. This technology allowed a clear image of building remains, although there was a lot of rubble to get through. This work was combined with Stewart's landscape study and some standing building analysis from Richard K Morriss to help us untangle modern Oakham from its complex history and hopefully find evidence for Edith's home...

Oakham offered us an opportunity to investigate the development of the burh into what we see today as the modern town - a story repeated all over England. Oakham would turn out to be a remarkable dig...