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Archaeological Dig at Petworth

Archaeologists unearth finds in trench
Archaeologists taking part in a dig | © DigVentures

From 19-31 July archaeologists will be tracing the footsteps of Henry VIII as they search for evidence of a lost Tudor wing of Petworth House.

The two-week dig at Petworth is part of Henry VIII on Tour, a landmark research project led by Historic Royal Palaces in partnership with the University of York. For the first time ever, they plan to map every venue occupied by the legendary Tudor king on his ‘royal progress’, a tour consolidating his rule over the country. The project aims to enhance historians’ understanding of the purpose of royal progresses and their impact on 16th-century political culture.

The archaeologists will be searching for the footprint of the lost North Wing which was built when Henry acquired the house in 1536. The wing included a chapel, fortified tower and large hall, and was located on what is now the north west lawn in the park.

There is also the tantalising possibility of discovering a lost ‘mystery building’ in the park which is indicated in several historical documents and was believed to be a banqueting house or hunting lodge where the king would have entertained his guests.

It’s extraordinary to think that Henry VIII once owned Petworth House, and we can’t wait to finally understand more about these lost buildings he may once have stood in. We’re also very keen for our visitors to get involved in the dig

A quote by Sue Rhodes Visitor Operations and Experience Manager, Petworth House
Children trowelling in trench
Children taking part in a dig | © DigVentures

Get Involved

The excavations coincide with the International Festival of Archaeology and there will be opportunities for the public to take part, including guided tours of the dig site, bookable half day sessions as well as family-friendly sessions to help with the dig itself or handle any finds that may be uncovered. Other free Tudor-themed activities will be available with no booking required. Normal admission to Petworth House applies.

The ambitious project is a unique opportunity to travel back in time to a fascinating and little-understood era of Petworth House, which has a rich 900-year history.

Click here for booking details and to find out more about the project.