Excavation of the Medieval Boundary Ditch of King John's Palace, Kings Clipstone, Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.
King John's Palace is a medieval royal palace site in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. The standing ruin is a Scheduled Ancient Monument but the actual palace site extends much further than the standing ruin. The standing ruin is located in Castle Field, King's Clipstone, Newark and Sherwood District, Nottinghamshire.
In order to protect, manage and preserve the site for the future the landowner is particularly keen to understand the extent and boundaries of the palace complex.
A linear anomaly was identified during a resistivity survey of Castle Field in 2010. The linear anomaly appeared to correlate with a boundary depicted on an early 17th century map of the site and was depicted with Manor Garth on one side and Waterfield on the other. It was theorised that the feature may represent the medieval boundary of the palace site (Gaunt 2011).
Though the feature was excavated by Wessex Archaeology in 2011 the results were inconclusive, with interpretations ranging from a big ditch containing medieval pottery to a field boundary shown on 19th century maps (Wessex 2011).
In an attempt to address this question more thoroughly the land owner commissioned the excavation of two archaeological trenches across the line of the linear feature to assess its character and to obtain dating evidence.
The excavation took place in 2012. The trenches were both approximately 17m long by 3m wide.
The anomaly proved to be a substantial ditch. Though there were relatively few finds, the ditch appeared to have begun silting in the 13th or 14th century, with pottery of a similar date being incorporated into the base of the possible bank deposits located to the north of the feature (inside the palace complex) and thus suggesting a 13th or 14th century date for its construction.
The ditch remained in use as a land parcel boundary after the palace was decommissioned and the upper fills included various post medieval and modern ceramics.
It is highly probable that the linear feature represents the southern boundary of the palace complex in this area from the 13th century onwards.