ARCHAEOLOGISTS are busy unearthing Worcester’s Civil War past in the heart of the city.

A dig is taking place in Lowesmoor, just metres away from the street King Charles II used to escape the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Staff from Worcestershire County Council’s historic environment and archaeology service, working with Carillion Richardson as they lay the foundations for the area’s £75 million retail redevelopment, started digging at the end of November.

They have already exposed a huge ditch, found decorated 17th century tiles and a tiny coin that dates back to Charles I’s reign.

Hal Dalwood, senior archaeological project manager, said the ditch stretching across the site was three metres deep and probably part of a bastion – an earthen defence constructed around the city walls in 1646 when Worcester was under siege.

“They built these defences to protect St Martin’s Gate,” said Mr Dalwood.

“What’s interesting about that is St Martin’s is the gate that Charles would have escaped through when the Battle of Worcester was lost. It all happened right here.”

The bastion, known as St Martin’s Sconce, would have cut through people’s gardens and orchards.

When the war was over, they simply pushed the earth mounds back into the ditches.

It is one of these filled-in ditches that archaeologists are now excavating. “It’ll be quite impressive when it’s dug out,” said Mr Dalwood.

“We’re hoping to find material from the 1651 battle.”

Selwyn Rowley, of Carillion Richardson – the firm behind Lowesmoor’s £75 million retail redevelopment – is now inviting the public to take a look behind usually closed doors and see the dig for themselves.

An open day will take place from 11am to 3pm this Saturday.

The site entrance is next to the Silver Street car park (on the opposite side of City Walls Road from the Cornmarket) and is safe and accessible for children and wheelchairs.

“Sometimes retail developments have no soul,” said Mr Rowley.

“That’s not the case in Lowesmoor. With the vinegar works, the porcelain site and now this, there is such heritage.”

For more information on the open day call 01905 855456.

• See your Worcester News tomorrow for more pictures from the dig.