A CENTURIES-old search for a lost palace has ended at one of Herefordshire’s best-known beauty spots, where a time team unearthed its second stunning find in nearly as many months.
The remains of what was the medieval Bishop’s Palace that once dominated Ross-on-Wye were revealed by archaeologists digging at the site of a Roman temple uncovered there earlier this year.
An exact location for the palace has eluded local historians for some 300 years. It’s a find that not only has a big part to play in the future for Ross, but also further boosts the reputation of the town’s biggest benefactor.
Both the palace and the Roman digs owe their exposure to John Kyrle, the legendary Man o’ Ross, and his foresight in making The Prospect a public park in the late 1690s, a move that did much to preserve what was below.
Already, there is talk of the finds being the basis for a new-look public park on The Prospect, with its outstanding views of the Wye, as a major county tourist attraction.
“What’s been uncovered is a lost palace and a hidden legacy. John Kyrle now has as much a part to play in the future for Ross as he has had with its past,” said Herefordshire county archaeologist Dr Keith Ray.
“It’s a significant find and completely unexpected, the first glimpse we’ve had of such a palace.”
A time team from Leominster-based Border Archaeology, working on behalf of Herefordshire Council, uncovered a large stone wall while digging out to see how far the Roman site went.
The wall was found to be around 800 years old, which dates it to the palace, and it is substantial enough to have served the purpose attributed to it.
On the evidence so far, the archaeologists think they’ve uncovered the foundations of the palace’s great hall where the bishop would receive petitioners while seated on a throne.
There is no known visual representation of what the palace might have looked like, but in documentary references it appears to have dominated Ross and probably had at least three towers standing to some height.
When the bishop was in residence, the palace would have housed around 100 people.
Herefordshire’s medieval bishops were powerful figures and kept various grand houses around the diocese.
Almost nothing is left of any of these houses now, they fell out of favour as upkeep costs rose.
The Ross palace is thought to have fallen into disrepair long before its last traces were lost between the late 1690s and early 1700s.
A protective covering has been put over the wall as work continues, there are plans to put both The Prospect sites on public view next month.