Former Weymouth Bowl site to be explored for archaeological remains
As part of the council’s proposals for redevelopment of the former Weymouth Bowl site in St Nicholas St, an archaeological dig is due to take place later this month.
Dorset Council acquired the leasehold interest in the former Weymouth Bowl site in January this year and has commissioned archaeology specialists Context One Heritage & Archaeology, to carry out an archaeological investigation on this site ahead of any redevelopment.
The same company was used last year to carry out similar archaeological investigations at North Quay.
Context One has studied historical maps of the area and where the services now run and has recommended two x 10m long trenches to be dug in the areas most likely to reveal archaeological remains.
Richard McConnell from Context One, said: “We have carried out a desk-based assessment of the site and we know it is within the historic medieval core of Melcombe Regis which has seen various episodes of redevelopment over many years.
“We are expecting to encounter foundation remains of buildings similar to North Quay unless they have been completely removed as part of the MFA Bowl development. If we do find any remains, they are likely to be a mixture of remains from various dates, perhaps extending back to the medieval period. When we carried out the North Quay investigations, we worked with community groups such as Dig the Street. We are hoping to involve the community again in these works, look out for details on our social media channels.”
To ensure members of the public can see what is found as the dig progresses, Context One and Dorset Council will post photos of the work on social media throughout the dig.
Cllr Tony Ferrari, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Property and Assets, said: “Much like the archaeological work at North Quay, this exploration presents a unique opportunity to dig deep into the history of Weymouth and we’re looking forward to seeing what might be unearthed.
“We know Weymouth’s history is important to local people and can be found right across the Melcombe Regis area, so we’re pleased that the council’s acquisition of this site may offer us a window into Weymouth’s past. I understand the trenches will be dug across the general area where we think the Medieval waterfront was.”
Work is due to start on Monday 25 April and is due to take between 2-3 weeks. During this time the car park operated by Euro Car Parks, will be closed and permit holders of this car park are being contacted directly to discuss alternative parking arrangements.
A survey of local people in January 2021 asked residents for their views on the proposed plans for the Weymouth Bowl and North Quay sites and ran for four weeks. Over 340 people responded, and comments posted about the proposals on social media were also reviewed.
Respondents showed a high level of support for the Weymouth Bowl site proposal and felt it was a good use of a redundant site that needs regenerating. Although the design was not as favoured as that of North Quay, the presence of residential units in the town centre itself was popular, as was the prospect of more affordable housing.