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Archaeology

The sheer scale of possible discoveries, the geographical span of the project and the vast range of our history to be unearthed makes HS2’s historic environment programme a unique opportunity to tell the story of Britain, its past and future.

Uncovering the temperance time capsule.

Revealing our industrial revolution ancestors

The careful excavation of the remains of ordinary people and famous individuals from the past will give us an opportunity to trace our ancestors. Personal stories will have a national impact, as we join to remember the people who built the foundations of modern Britain.

This will be particularly moving when we excavate the two burial grounds in Euston and Birmingham. We will understand more about the people who lived in these growing industrial cities and how the railway network connected the two in the past.

All human remains affected by the construction of HS2 will be afforded due dignity care and respect.

HS2 will link the past, present and future

Just as the Victorian railway played a huge role in the Industrial Revolution, HS2 will improve connectivity between our centres of industry, learning and innovation.

Phase One Archaeology

Phase One of HS2 will comprise 140 miles of railway linking London and Birmingham. The scale of the project will not have been seen since the Victorian era. Phase One of HS2 dwarfs other recent transport infrastructure projects, with Crossrail covering 62 miles in Greater London and the Home Counties and HS1 covering 67 miles in the South East.

View the HS2 route

At either end of the Phase One route there are opportunities to examine the growth of our major cities in the post-medieval, industrial and modern ages, both through the archaeological remains of this expansion and the cemeteries in which they buried their dead.

Early finds: temperance time capsules

In 2017, two time capsules buried nearly 140 years ago to mark the opening of the UK’s first “sober” hospital were uncovered during the demolition of the derelict National Temperance Hospital by HS2 workers in Euston.

Temperance hospital document found in the time capsule.

The glass jar time capsules and their contents are unique insights into the Temperance movement that promoted abstinence from alcohol during the Victorian period.

The documents contained within these capsules shows that the National Temperance Hospital was ahead of its time in barring alcohol from non-essential medical procedures.

Opening the temperance time capsule.

The time capsules were discovered underneath two memorial foundation stones dating back to 1879 and 1884 and contained a plethora of interesting documents including newspapers of the day, rules of the hospital, Temperance propaganda and official records. Archaeological conservators from MOLA Headland Infrastructure opened the capsules in their lab and carefully extracted the contents for examination.

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