Between 1983 and 1993 a major archaeological excavation programme was carried out at Dudley Castle, it was undertaken in close association with the programme of repairs. The consultant Archaeologist was Philip Barker, an eminent British Archaeologist renowned for his work on excavation methodology. Excavation concentrated on the motte, within the adjacent Stable Block, between the Stables and Main Gateway, the ditch separating the Motte from the Bailey, the Great Hall and the Chapel. Large quantities of finds were recovered including ceramic building materials, clay pipes, coins, faunal remains, floor tiles, leather, plant remains, pottery, small find, stone architectural fragments, vessel glass, window glass, textiles etc. In addition to the excavations, a substantial amount of building recording was carried out in association with the restoration of some of the standing buildings overseen by ST Walker & Duckham. In the 1990’s ‘Background Information and Proposed Design for Research and Publication’ was published for the Dudley Castle Archaeological project. It is presented in three volumes, each of which provides information of specific aspects of the archaeological excavation.
The ‘outreach’ works as a result of this excavation was rather far ranging. The Dudley Castle Archaeological Project made use of funds from Manpower services, employing five professional archaeologists and 50 local people of both sexes spanning the age range from 18 to 60, therefore it was not only a nationally significant research excavation but also a source of employment and training for local unemployed people.
Dudley Castle is very fortunate to have an active Friends of Dudley Castle group whose mission statement is to ‘support and promote Dudley Castle in every way possible locally, nationally and internationally as a major treasure of British Heritage’. They strongly promote the educational value of the Castle stressing that they believe that ‘Dudley Castle and its site to be of national geological, archaeological, historical and architectural importance with considerable educational value’. For more information about the Friends Group, visit The friends of Dudley Castle.
The Friends Group began in 1989 when the Castle excavation was being carried out in the Castle courtyard, and its patron is the Earl of Dudley. The Friends Group continues to work closely with Dudley Council on the excavation archive for the Castle excavations, taking a proactive role in working with Dudley Council, Historic England and the Museum of London Archaeology Service who were appointed to prepare a disposal policy elements of the Castle archive (mainly focused un-stratified animal bones).