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Whitefriars Friary uncovered in Forum preparations

Picture: Cotswold Archaeology

Work to reshape the future of Gloucester has unearthed part of the city's past which has remained a mystery for decades.

Archaeologists from Gloucester City Council and Cotswold Archaeology, working on the site of the former Bruton Way multi-storey car park, have discovered remains of the missing Whitefriars Carmelite Friary which had eluded historians for many years.

The former car park and adjoining bus station has long been suspected as a potential location of the 13th century friary.

Gloucester contractors to lead King's Square redevelopment 

And the archaeologists have finally solved the mystery after a year working on the site on behalf of Reef Group, which is working with the council on the £85million King's Quarter project.

City archaeologist Andrew Armstrong said: "For around 300 years, Whitefriars played an active part in Gloucester and produced some notable friars including Nicholas Cantelow (or Cantilupe) in the 15th century.

"It's very exciting to finally reveal the exact location of this long-lost friary. Seeing and documenting this site will serve to underline, and recognise, the place of the friary in the city's history."

Gloucester's Whitefriars owned most of the land between what is now Station Road and Bruton Way, shown in some historic maps as Friars Ground.

While sources suggested the friary was located next to Market Parade, historians have been unable to confirm the precise location until now.

Whitefriars, one of several important religious houses in medieval Gloucester along with Llanthony Priory, Blackfriars and Greyfriars, has tended to be overlooked because of the lack of identifiable remains.

The work suggests there were at least four large medieval buildings built of stone or with stone footings and walls measuring a metre wide.

The archaeological team has also found the remains of tiled and mortared floors, part of a medieval drain and larger walls aligned east-west - a typical feature for a medieval ecclesiastical building.

Reef development director Esther Croft said: "Working in partnership with the city council, our aim is to deliver The Forum with the least possible impact on these important archaeological remains.

"We expect, as the development moves forward, that further archaeological investigations will be needed, hopefully improving our understanding of this intriguing site.

"We look forward to sharing the full results of this dig, and any future archaeological work, with the people of Gloucester."

Details of the findings will be included on information boards on The Forum development site which will include office space, a hotel and a car park while creating a social and digital campus.

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