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Big Royal Dig
Time Team Live: Big Royal Dig - Digging at the Palace

Digging at the Palace

Time Team... royal palaces... bank holiday weekend... what's that all about then? Find out here...
What's it all about?
The Time Team Big Royal Dig marks a double celebration. Not only is the dig timed to help celebrate the Queen's 80th birthday but the dig also marks the 150th excavation by the team so they decided to arrange something pretty special.

"This is an exciting opportunity to get beneath the historical skin of three iconic and important buildings. This is practically the first time that archaeologists have been able to excavate properly at the palaces – before now archaeologists have only been on hand during building work to record finds, but not choosing where to dig.

Buckingham Palace is the largest garden in Central London and, as it's hardly been touched, it's a rare time capsule of the earlier history of London not only from the 18th Century when the original Buckingham House was built, but also way back to the English Civil War and even earlier.

Windsor is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, and with nearly a thousand years of history, there are some fascinating puzzles that we hope to answer, such as the location of the building Edward III had constructed to house his recreation of the Knights of the Round Table.

Holyroodhouse has a fascinating, and often bloody history, and we hope to be able to bring that story to life through looking at its development as a palace."

As well as uncovering new finds the team will be using 3D graphics to tell the stories of the evolution of these historic buildings over a millennium.

Experts from Oxford Archaeology will be supervising excavations at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and advising on the history of the royal residences.

When is it on 4?
Time Team: Big Royal Dig runs from August 25 – 28 with shows on Channel 4 and live coverage on More4.

The transmission details are:

Friday, August 25
Channel 4   7.30 – 8.00pm

Saturday, August 26
More4      12.00 – 6.00pm
Channel 4   7.25 – 9.25pm

Sunday, August 27
More4      12.00 – 6.10pm
Channel 4   8.00 – 9.00pm

Monday, August 28
More4      12.00 – 6.10pm
Channel 4   9.00 – 10.00pm

Can I visit the dig sites?
The public opening of the Palaces will be unaffected by the excavations. The Time Team television programmes will give the best view of the digs, although it is hoped that visitors to the Palaces will be able to see some of the archaeology in progress. The usual admission charges and arrangements apply. Please see below for details of activities at each site.

Windsor Castle and St George's Chapel

To the north side of St George's Chapel lies an area called Denton's Commons, not normally accessible to the public. Here the Time Team hopes to find the remains of the Great Hall begun by Henry II and continued by Henry III. Visitors to the Chapel will be able to view the trenches from fairly close up, as the normal visitor route will be extended on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Admission to St George's Chapel is part of a visit to Windsor Castle.

In the Castle's Quadrangle (not open to the public), Time Team is looking for Edward III's Round Table building. Visitors will be able to view work in the Quadrangle from the windows of St George's Hall, and the railings at Engine Court and on the Moat Path. There will also be a monitor in St George's Hall showing the More 4 live programme between 12:00 and 18:00 over the four days.

Windsor Castle will be holding a special family event over the Bank Holiday weekend. On Saturday, 26 to Monday, 28 August 11:00 – 16:00 you can take part in a range of art-based activities that explore life at the Castle in the Middle Ages. Create your own castle, decorate a menu card for a medieval banquet or design your own shield and coat of arms.

Opening arrangements

Windsor Castle   St George's Chapel
25 August 09:45–17:15
(last admission 16:00)
  10:00 – 16:15
(visitor route not extended)
26 August 09:45 – 17:15
(last admission 16:00)
  10:00 – 16:15
27 August 09:45 – 17:15
(last admission 16:00)
  14:00 – 16:00
28 August 09:45 – 17:15
(last admission 16:00)
  10:00 – 16:15

For further information and to book tickets click here.

Buckingham Palace

Time Team hopes to discover the location and layout of the original
Buckingham House, which was incorporated into the current Palace, as well as the two country houses that pre-dated it on the site. They are also aiming to uncover the original plan for the gardens, including a lost canal which it is believed ran across the main lawn. The archaeologists also hope to identify the location of Civil War defences and reconstruct the landscape of this part of 17th-century London.

From the foot of the west steps, visitors to the State Rooms will be able to see one trench a short distance away on the Palace lawn. Again from a distance, they will also be able to view the geophysical survey in the Quadrangle and on the lawn.

Opening arrangements

The Summer Opening of the State Rooms is run on a timed-ticket system. As many of the tickets are pre-booked, it is strongly advised that you check availability before planning a visit. Please telephone the Ticket Sales and Information Office on 020 7766 7320.

Open daily 09:45 – 18:00 (last admission 15:45)

For further information and to book tickets click here.

The Big Royal Dig review. Channel 4, 31 Dec 7.00pm
Read the update here
Big Royal Dig was first shown on Channel 4 and More4 in August 2006
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