CIVIC chiefs have confirmed there will be ‘no big holes’ when archaeological work gets under way as part of the Silver Hill 2 project.

It comes as funding for investigatory work to establish what historical artifacts might be buried under the city centre was approved by councillors last week.

After working with specialist consultants SLR, officers asked Winchester City Council’s cabinet to sign off £250,000 to carry out the work over the next six-eight years.

According to a report, the work would see a tiered approach to investigations, starting with desk based analysis, followed by collection of deposits and analysis to establish baseline data. That would be followed by “ongoing monitoring of conditions to collect sufficient data over a period of time allowing for seasonal and annual variations. This will provide sound information to base development and planning decisions going forward”.

As previously reported, the exact method of the archaeological work has proved controversial, but Cllr Kelsie Learney, cabinet member for housing and asset management, confirmed the work would be carried out without big excavations.

She told the cabinet: “We are not going to have a dramatic unveiling with big holes to look into.”

That comes after a row broke out last year following the release of a report from the formed Archaeology Advisory Panel advising against digging in the city centre due to the risk of damaging historically important material.

The report was defended by panel chairman and renowned expert Prof Martin Biddle, who said suggestions of digging up the area “impractical and ill-informed”.

After its release, nearly 120 people, including city councillor Kim Gottlieb and General Sir Antony Walker, chairman of the Winchester Deserves Better campaign, signed a letter calling for the site’s archaeology to be “properly excavated and evaluated”.

Plans are also in the pipeline to create a new museum to display any findings from the archaeology. The site is being looked into by Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT), the organisation that looks after the county’s historical and cultural artifacts, and would celebrate the city’s Anglo-Saxon heritage.

A spokesman for HCT said at the time: “Our intention is to connect Winchester’s outstanding heritage offer and create a new immersive museum experience where stories come together and are brought to life for the community and the many tourists who come to our city.

“The excavated archaeology and that which remains hidden underneath the city streets are the most important elements of this story. The proposed new museum provides us with the opportunity to reveal and share this with everyone.”