The remains of a 13th century Franciscan Friary which was abandoned during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries have been excavated.

The convent of Friars Minor (otherwise known as Franciscans or Grey Friars) was founded in Bridgwater in the early thirteenth century and moved to the site off Friarn Avenue in 1245. The church was rebuilt in the early 15th century and its burial ground was consecrated in 1445.

The site of the Franciscan Friary in Bridgwater has appeared on many old maps of the town but few remains have been seen in recent years.

Wessex Archaeology dug the site of Greyfriars, built around 1245AD at Friarn Meadow in Bridgwater, Somerset, and found evidence of clay floors, medieval glazed floor tiles and traditional West Somerset roof slates.

Archaeologists found original foundation trenches, which were dug to house the walls of the friary, although the walls themselves had been substantially removed after the monastery was abandoned, possibly for use in other buildings.

In addition to the medieval remains, a substantial flat-bottomed linear feature was found to cut through the remains. Dating evidence, combined with the scale and position of the feature, suggest it represents a large Civil War entrenchment, with at least two additonal outworks, probably representing gun emplacements.

The excavation by Wessex Archaeology was in advance of the construction of a new Army Cadet Association building and parade ground.

The new buildings proposed for the site will be carefully constructed on special foundations which will not damage the buried archaeological layers. Archaeologists are discussing long-term management plans for this site with English Heritage.

An open day was held soon after the excavation was completed to give the public an opportunity to see the site, and it is hoped that publication will be completed in 2004, for inclusion in the journal of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

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