06/09/2017
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New dig to reveal Henry VIII’s blockhouse

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The South Blockhouse on the banks of the Humber, was commissioned by Henry VIII in 1541 to house guns and protect troops and ammunition from attack.

It was one of three forts, connected by a curtain wall, that was designed to the port of Hull. The scheduled monument was first excavated in 1997 by Humber Field Archaeology (HFA) which is now saying that further work is needed in order for a new generation to see the site. It includes the remains of the earliest defences built on the order of Henry VIII in the 1540s, as well as some defences that were added later. When it was built in 1543, 60 bricklayers worked on the construction, along with 20 masons, 20 carpenters and 10 plumbers. Some 300 labourers, 30 lime burners and an additional 30 bricklayers created the materials used for the construction which cost £23,000 at the time. The defences were demolished in 1864 but the site and walls were not completely destroyed.

The reason for the new excavation now is so that some of the structure can viewed during Hull's year-long spell as the UK City of Culture. The Beverley Gate in the centre of Hull has already been renovated to make it more appealing to tourists.

Ken Steedman, of Humber Field Archeology, said it was hoped the remains of the whole building on the east bank of the Hull might eventually be displayed. He said, "We think we have more than 3ft of walls of a building planned by the most famous monarch in history, Henry VIII."

He said there were four factors that could help make the remains a possible new tourist attraction - the site is not built on, it is close to the Deep aquarium and the city's Old Town, the walls are close to the surface and in good condition. However, it would require serious financial investment in order to become an attraction.

 

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