Pre-Construct Archaeology was commissioned to undertake an archaeological evaluation at Abbey Park, Leicester. Abbey Park falls within the precinct of the former 12th century Augustinian monastic site of St Mary of the Meadow, a scheduled ancient monument (List No. 1012149) and grade II registered park and garden (List No. 1000956; DLC435).
Following Dissolution in 1538, the majority of the buildings were demolished. A mansion was subsequently built at the site, occupied first by the Hastings family and then by the Cavendish family. The precinct wall remains largely extant. Building material was recovered and used for the construction of Cavendish House in the later 16th and 17th centuries, although this house was largely destroyed in 1645 during the English Civil War when the town was first occupied by Royalist troops and then Parliamentarian forces after a short siege. Cartographic evidence suggests that the area of investigation was to the south of the main precinct in the nursery area, in lower lying and potentially marginal land.
Whilst sherds of Roman and medieval pottery were recovered during the investigation, the fieldwork confirmed that medieval and earlier horizons were buried beneath thick deposits of later 19th and 20th century ground raising and levelling deposits.
The archaeological investigations were undertaken whilst the park and outdoor gym area remained open. The fieldwork was adapted to ensure that disturbance to the general public was minimised, whilst at the same time being undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Local Authority and Scheduled Monument Consent.