Archaeological results from the ‘Big Dig’ at Kirton’s 16th century Old King’s Head are helping to ‘tell the story’ of the inn’s colourful past.
From old bottles and medieval pottery to animal bones and a Victorian cesspit - the findings are painting a picture of the inn’s rich history as a community hub and rest-stop for travellers.
The dig has been carried out by Archaeological Project Services - part of Heritage Lincolnshire, which is behind the ongoing restoration project at the Tudor building. The aim is to bring the building back into use as a community café and bed and breakfast - aided by a National Lottery grant of almost £2million.
Members of the local community have been getting involved with the dig since September - with free archaeological sessions at the site.
Lydia Hendry, community archaeologist, said: “This has been such a fantastic project to run, from day one we have had finds coming out the ground, telling the story of the Old King’s Head as a place for meeting and relaxing. It has also been good to see how many people have helped us with the project, from young families, to interested locals and even career starters who have started their first archaeological jobs through the project.”
A spokesman for Heritage Lincolnshire added: “The whole site tells a story of local village life from the view of the pub. The association of locally-produced beer bottles and clay pipes found brings to mind the modern outdoor seating areas of pubs today, the Victorian cess pit is a lovely example of Victorian engineering and is a reminder of the practical considerations that are required to run an inn, whilst the animal bone has butchery marks, suggesting small-scale meat production.”
Post-excavation analysis of the objects unearthed, including bones, is yet to take place. Once it has been completed, a site report will be created which the public can view.
Some details about the site’s history:
The Old King’s Head opened in 1599 as a coaching inn. It is located on the main trading road between London to Boston, and functioned as a travellers’ rest.
Back in April this year, Heritage Lincolnshire was awarded a National Lottery grant of £1,987,300 for conservation of the Grade II-listed building and stables.
It is Kirton’s oldest secular building and had been at the heart of the community for more than 400 years.
The building was converted for domestic use in the 1960s.
Heritage Lincolnshire purchased the Old King’s Head site in 2016.