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Mysteries continue to be unearthed at Northampton Market Square

Northampton Market

27 November 2023

A cellar which was uncovered at Northampton Market Square

In September this year, fragments of medieval shoes, textiles, pot fragments, dating back to the 13th-14th century, animal bones and wood, and the remnants of several structures were uncovered underneath Northampton Market Square. Since these discoveries the Museum of London Archaeology has been monitoring the historical finds that have been taking place on the site of the Market Square regeneration.

On 26 October MOLA made an incredible and exciting discovery whilst proceeding with the groundworks for the surface renovation program of the Market Square. During the surface works an underground cellar was exposed at the site and with archaeological supervision of the excavation of a shallow trench for electrical cables along the western perimeter of the site, the structure was revealed. The unearthed cellar is part of the wider cellar network.

The row of buildings between the Market Square and the Drapery, including the cellar, was constructed after the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675, possibly during the 18th and 19th centuries. During the excavation, several post-medieval sherds also were found, providing valuable insights for dating purposes.

While opening the trench, one of the blocks was damaged, allowing a rare peek inside this piece of Northampton’s history. To much surprise, the entire cellar was filled with concrete almost up to its ceiling. The only visible feature beyond the concrete layer was a small fragment of a possible door frame leading into the Market Square building.

Fragments of the textile material, sometimes used to stop spillage during the concreting process, were also found on the opposite wall, suggesting that some relatively recent work on this cellar was undertaken, possibly dating back to the 1970s when parts of Market Square were redeveloped.

The discovery of this hidden cellar not only adds a new chapter to Northampton's history but also underscores the intricate layers of the Town’s past waiting to be uncovered.

It is incredible to see even more historical artefacts and structures being uncovered during the regeneration of the Market Square. MOLA continue to unearth and study Northampton’s rich and mysterious history and we welcome any more discoveries they make.

The continued effort to bring a new and energised public space to Northampton Town Centre will make such a difference to the town’s future and will be a new entry in our history books.
Cllr Dan Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at WNC

The Market Square regeneration is just one part of the Northampton Forward Town Investment Plan to transform Northampton town centre. The works on Market Square will create an accessible space for everybody including families, tourists, young professionals, and the elderly. The newly rejuvenated area, opening in the summer of 2024, will offer new permanent market stalls for traders, high-quality seating and planting, a flexible event space, and a new water feature to activate the area. To find out more about this exciting regeneration project and other transformation projects happening across Northampton visit the We are Northampton Website.

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