Watching Brief, Archaeological Observation, Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire

We were instructed by Amey plc on behalf of Severn Trent Water to carry out a programme of Archaeological Observation for an emergency sewer repair at The Close, Lichfield Cathedral.

In Brief

Client: Amey plc on behalf of Severn Trent Water Sector: Infrastructure/Utilities/Water Services:

Watching Brief/ Archaeological Observation

Location: Lichfield, Staffordshire, West Midlands

Key Points

  • Emergency sewer repair
  • We responded quickly
  • A single trench was opened and recorded


Border Archaeology was instructed by Amey plc on behalf of Severn Trent Water to carry out a programme of Archaeological Observation (also known as a Watching Brief) of engineering groundworks relating to an emergency sewer repair within The Close, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 7LD. The site is located at the junction of Bird Street and The Close.

The Close was heavily damaged in the Civil War but was reconstructed by the early 18th century, at which time it emerged as a focal point for polite society. The Close forms part of the wider Grade II Registered Park and Garden of Cathedral Close and Linear Park, although the site itself lies marginally outside this area.

The aim of this programme of Archaeological Observation was to determine, as far as was reasonably possible, the location, extent, date, character, condition, significance and quality of any surviving archaeological remains likely to be threatened by the proposed groundworks, and to record, within engineering constraints and health and safety guidance, the character, date, location and preservation of any such remains.

The programme of archaeological work was carried out in accordance with practices set out in Standard and Guidance for an archaeological watching brief (CIfA 2014) and Standard and Guidance for the collection, documentation, conservation and research of archaeological materials (CIfA 2014). Border Archaeology adheres to the CIfA Code of conduct (2014).

An open cut trench was excavated under Archaeological Observation in two stages, initially using a toothless ditching bucket and hand excavation before progressing to the use of a grab bucket, producing a single trench which measured c.8.20m × c.2.10m × c.4m. Upper deposits were removed in order to locate the damaged sewer pipe and record any existing archaeology.

Two structures, a rubble deposit and cobbles were found, although they were heavily truncated by modern services including that of the sewer. Dated finds included 18th – 19th century Staffordshire slipware and a single piece of 14th century floor tile, although these are considered residual.

No deposits suitable for palaeoenvironmental/palaeoeconomic sampling purposes were identified and no finds were retained due to contamination from the broken sewer.

Regarding deposition of the report and associated archive, an accession number was requested from The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Following approval of the report, a printed and digital copy will also be submitted to the Staffordshire Historic Environment Record.



Engineering groundworks enabled.