Historic fortifications found under site of new £53m sports centre

The old fortifications at Ravelin Park in Portsmouth which were uncovered during work to build a new sports centre for the University of Portsmouth''Picture submitted by Celia Clark
The old fortifications at Ravelin Park in Portsmouth which were uncovered during work to build a new sports centre for the University of Portsmouth''Picture submitted by Celia Clark
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HISTORIC Portsmouth fortifications will be lost forever following the construction of a new leisure facility in the city - but residents are invited to find out more.

The University of Portsmouth is holding an event on Wednesday to present archaeological findings of the Ravelin Park site on which its £53m state-of-the-art sports centre will be built.

A design concept of the new sports centre the University of Portsmouth is hoping to build in Ravelin Park, in the city centre. Picture: University of Portsmouth/LDA Design.

A design concept of the new sports centre the University of Portsmouth is hoping to build in Ravelin Park, in the city centre. Picture: University of Portsmouth/LDA Design.

While digging up the site's car park last month the foundations of defences, thought to date back to the 1600s, were unearthed.

A university spokesperson said:  'We were aware that these walls were on the site and instructed AOC Archaeology to record the site during groundworks for the new building to satisfy planning conditions and record the archaeological remains.

'A report will follow, a copy of which will go to the university, and after the end of the project, archaeological reports are sent to the local studies library, and eventually are available online.

'Work has not been halted and we look forward to sharing the next key project milestones.'

At the free event, which is open to all members of the public, the archaeology team will present their findings from the excavations.

However, the university has confirmed that the defences will either be removed, with no plans to display them, or built over if they are lower than the site's new foundation works.

For Southsea resident, Celia Clark, who is writing a book about defence sites in the city, seeing the fortifications last month was a privilege. She said:  'It was known that the ramparts were there but none of us had ever seen them before. They were filled in by pick and shovel in 1875.

'To see them was a great thrill. Just actually seeing them for the first time was very exciting.'

Plans for Ravelin Park include a 935sq m building which will boast an eight-court sports hall, a 25m swimming pool, multi-purpose studios, climbing wall and a ski simulator among others.

The building, that will be part of the University of Portsmouth campus, will also have teaching rooms, office space and an underground car park. As part of the university’s pledge to the environment it will also feature solar panels, a grass roof and bee boxes.

The event will take place from 6pm to 7.30pm in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Richmond Building on Portland Street. Free tickets can be booked via the university website.