Work has been temporarily halted on an unpopular playground after historical artefacts were discovered at the dig site.

An archeological dig carried out near Crane Park’s Shot Tower – close to the site of a new planned playground – unearthed a number of items believed to date from the 18th and 19th century.

Among the items found last Saturday were floor tiles believed to have been part of former houses around the Grade II listed tower, glass and a ceramic jar.

Work came to a halt on the playground as an archaeologist recommended by English Heritage visited the park to assess the find.

Marnie Blackmore, who was part of the London Wildlife Trust archaeology course which found the historical items, said she was surprised the council agreed to build the new playground on such an historic site.

She said: “It is rather shocking to think this evidence could all be lost, along with whatever is under the rest of the playground site.

“It was a big surprise to see the diggers had been in to start clearing for the playground.”

Alexandra Robb, from the Wildlife trust, said the group was “very disappointed” by the council’s decision to build the playground on the site. The tower was built in 1826 and was used for making lead shot.

Molten lead would be carried to the top of the tower then poured through a copper sieve and dropped into a water tank at the bottom.

It was announced at the end of last year an area close to the tower would be used to build a playground, after the council secured money from the Government’s playbuilder scheme.

However, the location has since been criticised by users of the park, who claimed the spot was too isolated and a playground would lead to antisocial behaviour and loss of open space.

A protest against the playground will be held on Sunday at the Shot Tower at 3pm.

Councillor Christine Percival, Richmond Council cabinet member for education, youth and children’s services, said the playground plans actually allowed for the historic items to be discovered.

She said: “These finds would never had been discovered if we hadn’t dug up the ground, so I’m pleased we have uncovered a little history.”

Work continued this week so more of the area can be uncovered for the archaeologists.

The play equipment will be installed in the coming weeks.