Local archaeologists planning an excavation at the Roman Fort at the Nunnery have welcomed the permission granted by the States of Alderney for the project to go ahead. Of the four areas of particular interest which have been identified it is planned to investigate two this August.
The aim is to understand more of the history of the fort after the Romans left. Excavating the rampart on the south-east corner may reveal how the fort was repaired in the Middle Ages after the Roman east wall fell onto the beach, and how it was refurbished in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars when the main barracks, magazine and carriage store were built.
A newly cleared area in front of the magazine will allow investigation of the south wall of the Roman tower and a chance to look for the Roman courtyard which has still not been seen. A trench in that position will also be able to learn more about the ‘gun ramp’ on the south wall and possibly pick up traces of a building now mostly buried below the magazine. The date both were built is unknown but is suspected to be before the eighteenth century.
The south wall of the tower can also be investigated from the inside by a trench positioned parallel to the German bunker where a tree previously blocked access. Little is known of the interior of the tower, but it is hoped that further evidence can be found concerning its use in Tudor times when the Governor of Alderney lived at the Nunnery. A further trench is planned to understand more of a mystery building just visible in the garden on the seaward side of the fort.
Excavations will be led by the former director of Guernsey Museums, Dr Jason Monaghan, assisted by volunteers from Alderney and the Guernsey Museum Archaeology Group. It is planned the dig, which has the support of the Alderney Society, will take place during the last two weeks of August, subject to any COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time.
Dig Alderney is a newly registered Guernsey charity founded by Dr Jason Monaghan, Dr Phil de Jersey, and local archaeologist, Dr Isabel Picornell. The aims of Dig Alderney are to support and promote archaeological research in Alderney. While the formal launch of the charity and much of the work planned for 2020-21 has been delayed by the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, it is intended that there will be an official launch later this year. At this time team members will outline Dig Alderney’s plans to uncover more of the secrets of the Longis Bay Conservation area, which includes the Nunnery and the Iron Age/Roman era site discovered on Longis Common in 2019.
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