Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Dig to start at Shakespeare site

The New Place is thought to be where Shakespeare died in 1616

Archaeologists are preparing to excavate the site of Shakespeare's final home to find out more about the history of the building.

The New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon, was built in 1483 and is thought to be where the playwright died in 1616.

The building itself was demolished in 1759, but it is thought remains of the old house are still underground.

Archaeologists will start initial tests on the site on Tuesday and a full dig could be carried out next year.

The experts from Birmingham Archaeology will be searching for the foundations of the New Place and will be looking through the original wells and possibly rubbish pits.

'Modern record'

When the New Place was originally built in the 15th Century, it was made of innovative materials such as brick.

It was made to be one of the most distinguished buildings around and was thought to be the second-largest house in the town.

The New Place today
The site of the New Place today is a landscaped garden

It was demolished by the then owner the Reverend Gastrell, and the site was excavated in the 1860s.

At the site of the New Place today is a landscaped garden which is looked after by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Visitors can still see the later cellar walls of the 17th Century mansion but little remains above ground of the house Shakespeare would have lived in.

Dr Diana Owen, director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: "Our purpose would be to create a modern record of New Place, providing us with a better understanding of the site, and potentially revealing new information about the house in which Shakespeare died and the way in which the family lived there."

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