A largely intact medieval tiled floor has been uncovered in Gloucester, at the site of a Carmelite friary known as ‘Whitefriars’.
Although Whitefriars operated in the city between 1268 and 1538, its location had become lost and was only rediscovered when Cotswold Archaeology uncovered foundations from the friary church in 2020, during work at what will become The Forum – a social and digital space under development in the former Kings Quarter of the city. As excavations continued in 2021, further foundation walls were revealed to the south and east of the church, as well as loose floor tiles and a stone coffin containing one (highy disturbed) burial, located in a higher-status area that might be the chancel. Further burials were also found within the nave, whose floor has not survived. (The 2021 investigation also recovered a Roman ‘Venus’ figurine; see CA 381). The latest discovery – an extensive floor surface made up of glazed green and white tiles – is thought to represent the northern part of the friary’s cloister, and more graves have been identified beneath this walkway. Although the tiles themselves are undecorated, those towards the edge of the floor have been laid at right angles, and those towards the centre have been rotated, to create a pattern made up of diamond shapes.
‘It is thrilling to see yet more evidence of Whitefriars emerge, and this is the best-preserved finding to-date,’ said Andrew Armstrong, City Archaeologist at Gloucester City Council. ‘The friary played an active role in the city for 300 years and yet, until these excavations started, very little was known about it.’
For more on the discovery of the friary, see Andrew’s introduction to the Whitefriars archaeological site on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivGm1SN9O08.