During excavation work for the Centenary Square Extension project, part of the Midland Metro Alliance’s 10-year programme of light rail construction and renewal work throughout Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Edgbaston and Solihull, an old cobbled footpath was discovered beneath Birmingham’s historic Victoria Square. RSK’s archaeologists have been working on the project for the last 12 months, examining the effects of groundwork in five locations in the city centre, and were instrumental in examining the cobbles and surrounding area.
“This is a very interesting find in the heart of the city centre,” says RSK principal archaeologist Laurence Hayes. “The artefacts we’ve recovered from around the path include porcelain, clay pipe and building materials that date to the post-medieval period. The road was probably part of the city’s expansion in the mid-18th century, and went out of use in the Victorian period.”
Since the discovery, the historic path has attracted many visitors from across the city after social media posts by Birmingham City Council and press coverage managed by the Midland Metro Alliance. The site was on show to the public until 27 June. The photographs and videos that RSK’s archaeologists took and the artefacts they uncovered will be used for a case study and educational piece for the local community to provide an insight into 18th-century Birmingham. RSK is in discussion with the Birmingham Museums Trust to consider options for a temporary public display.
“This work forms part of a much larger programme of formal archaeological investigation. We will be carrying out further work in the coming months to examine historical maps and the artefacts we have removed from the site to build up the full picture,” concludes Laurence.
In addition to archaeological services, RSK is supporting the Midland Metro Alliance with noise and vibration surveys, air quality monitoring and pre-condition surveys. The 10-year transport programme will extend and improve the existing tram infrastructure to make journeys faster and more accessible.
For more information on the Midland Metro Alliance programme, visit the website.