Watch: Survey is uncovering Ludlow's medieval past

The hidden past is coming to light as one archaeologist seeks to uncover what is beneath everyone's feet in a county town.

Watch: Survey is uncovering Ludlow's medieval past

Parts of what was once Ludlow's medieval drawbridge have been rediscovered and recorded for posterity in the basement of the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The pub stands next to the Broad Gate, the last survivor of Ludlow's seven medieval gates that still stands between Broad Street and Lower Broad Street.

It may just look like more brickwork to the untrained eye, but to freelance archaeologist Leon Bracelin it is one of the most exciting findings yet after a year conducting a "subterranean survey" across the town.

Leon, 42, has lived in Ludlow for 20 years and is on a mission to record the historical contents of Ludlow's basements and underground tunnels – the first such survey that has ever been done in the town, he said.

"I've done it off my own back between other excavations," he said, adding that he had worked on projects in his native Essex, as well as in Wales and France.

"The subterranean landscape is something we hardly consider when we walk the pavements of our towns and cities and just because we can't see it tends not to exist in our world," he said.

He said a lot of historical work in Ludlow focussed on trawling through old documents on known historical buildings, rather then actual archaeology, and the two 13th century "cells" of the drawbridge foundation, that now forms part of the Wheatsheaf cellars, were a case in point.

"I think it was known about in the 1970s but no archaeology work has been done, it's just been left for years," he said. "There are no archaeological records, it really needs further investigation.

"There has been extensive work done on Ludlow Castle and The Feathers hotel, but I'm trying to get at places that have been ignored. It's just unbelievable what is underneath the ground," he added.

He said many of Ludlow's streets, such as Lower Broad Street and Corve Street, have been raised over the years, so going into basements could reveal a lot about the original structures of the town. So far he has surveyed 54 properties, starting by simply knocking on doors and asking people if he could measure and make technical drawings from what he found.

Working in often cramped and dirty spaces, with only basic surveying techniques, was challenging work he said, and to build up a more comprehensive map of the town he is calling for more people to grant him access, or even volunteers interested in helping out.

  • Anyone with a cellar they think Leon may be interested in can contact him on (01584) 873447 or email

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