February 4, 2020
February 4, 2020

Archaeological excavations


An archaeological excavation was undertaken before the redevelopment of the Park Square campus, University of Bedfordshire. Records indicate that this area was the site of a castle built by Fulk de Breauté, an Anglo-Norman knight and favourite of King John, some time between 1216 and 1221. One Medieval document shows that the castle was surrounded by a moat, as there was a complaint that de Breauté had dammed the nearby river (presumably to help keep water in the moat) and caused serious flooding to crops and buildings belonging to the church. De Breauté was one of the most powerful men in the kingdom at the time, so was not overly worried by the complaints and allegedly said that he wished that the damage had been worse.

Although called a castle, this building was probably more like a fortified manor house, surrounded by a moat and earthen bank. In the interior would have been living quarters, a great hall, stables and outbuildings. The line of the moat and bank was still visible in the 19th century and seems to have been rectangular in shape. Previous excavations revealed the line of the moat on the northwest side and found traces of timber buildings.

Underneath the demolished Student Union were the remains of 19th century buildings and below these, well preserved medieval features: ditches, postholes and large pits. Finds included clothes pins and pottery dating to the 12–13th centuries confirming the activity was contemporary with Falks de Breauté’s castle.

The majority of the pottery were Hertfordshire Greyware which date to 12th – early 13th centuries. Hertfordshire Greyware is the local pottery of the period, and there were at least two pottery kilns making this close to Luton; at Hitchin and to the east of Toddington.

Waulud’s Bank archaeological excavations in 1953, 1971 and 1982 date the site to around 3000 BC, in the Neolithic period, although there was evidence of earlier mesolithic hunting and fishing activity in the immediate area.

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