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St. Nicholas Street and Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

PCA undertook a watching brief ahead of and during a scheme of highway works associated with the laying out of a cycle track along the western side of St. Nicholas Street. This included the installation of a new traffic light system at junctions, which required the excavation of trenches in the pavement and carriageway, and some road reconstruction, which required the excavation of trenches within the carriageway the street. PCA worked with the contractor to ensure that the programme was not delayed.

Most of the work took place around St. Nicholas Street and the eastern end of Westgate Road, both busy commercial roads. It was therefore imperative that archaeological excavation and recording caused the minimum delay to the scheme of works. The Castle Garth area where the work took place includes the historical visitor attraction of Newcastle Castle which consists of the surviving remains of the medieval castle, the Tower Keep, the Black Gate, and parts of the defensive eastern and southern curtain walls. Part of the scheme of works was located within the scheduled monument of the site of the Roman fort of Pons Aelius, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and motte and bailey castle. Work was also undertaken within an area of the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort.

Significant archaeological remains were uncovered in some areas, and the scheme was redesigned to avoid damaging these remains. Two sandstone walls of Roman date were encountered within the perimeter of the Roman fort, immediately to the south of a previously excavated building interpreted as the principia. The upper part of two graves were also exposed, considered to be part of the extensive Anglo-Saxon cemetery that has been excavated within the confines of the fort.

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