Huge Castle Discovered In Gloucester Under Basketball Court In Prison — The Castle Served As A Prison As Well

Remains of a huge castle were discovered in Gloucester, England. The castle, which may have rivaled the Tower of London in its enormity, was found under the basketball court of a prison.

Underneath the basketball court of a prison in Gloucester, England, are the remains of a castle that served multiple purposes, including housing royalty. The remains of the castle were discovered mere inches under the basketball court of a prison, which has been abandoned. Archaeologists stumbled across the historically significant find, when new developments were proposed for the prison site.


The castle may date back to 1110, and archaeologists have so far discovered just the “tower keep,” which is being described as “enormous.” A team was investigating the site in Gloucester ahead of a redevelopment project, when they found the remains only 60 centimeters beneath the basketball court of the now-abandoned prison.

Preliminary investigations indicate the castle was quite large and made entirely of stone. It might have been the first castle that was constructed in Gloucester using stone as the primary material of construction. During its heyday, the castle had three chapels, two drawbridges, and royal chambers for the king and queen, reported Gloucester Citizen. Speaking about the find, Neil Holbrook, chief executive of Cotswold Archaeology, who led the excavation, said as follows.

“The design is thought to have resembled Canterbury castle and the Tower of London. It would have been a powerful symbol of Norman architecture. As you came to Gloucester you would have seen the cathedral and the castle, which is representative of how important the city was in Norman Britain.”

Only the keep walls of the Norman castle have been found underneath the basketball court. The wall alone, which is about 12 feet in width, was found just 60 cm below the basketball court. The keep itself is estimated to have been 30 meters long and 20 meters across. This gives a clear idea of just how big this building was. Speaking about the discovery, the MP for Gloucester, Richard Graham, added the following.

“It is a real treat to be lucky enough to see keep for the first time since 1790. The quality of the walls that they have uncovered is fantastic. We are still uncovering our history in Gloucester and this is another reminder of the rich heritage that the city has.”

It is unlikely that the other sections would be found underneath other buildings at the site, owing to the rather odd past of the castle. Though the building once served as a dominant fortress in the Gloucester area, it was later used as the city jail for 200 years. The castle is believed to have been partially demolished in 1780. What struck the archaeologists is that the castle may not have been completely removed before the construction of the prison began. They believe the new prison was merely built on top of the castle, and hence there are multiple remnants, added Holbrook.

“I am surprised by what we found. I knew there was a castle but I had expected more of it to have been destroyed.”

The present day prison was shuttered in 2013, and the area was transferred to the custody of City and Country Group, which is running a public consultation on its future use, reported the Daily Mail.

Huge Castle Discovered In Gloucester Under Basketball Court In Prison [Photo by Mark Price via Cotswold Archaeology]Though it is not officially decided which elements of the castle will be considered before construction commences, given the historical significance of the discovery, the plans are bound to be fundamentally altered to ensure the remnants of the castle are preserved.

After two previous public consultations, the City and Country Group has scheduled a third one to discuss the future use of the prison in the New Year that now stands atop the remains of a castle in Gloucester.

[Image via Mark Price/Twitter via Cotswold Archaeology]