Since its inception in 2005 Access Cambridge Archaeology has been running interactive field schools for secondary school pupils, aiming to raise their aspirations to Higher Education. This work takes up the majority of our year, and has changed and evolved accordingly over time. We’re always trying to improve the field schools to make them more and more beneficial and worthwhile for pupils, something that is increasingly important as teachers and pupils alike struggle to find time for such activities in the already-packed curriculum. With that in mind, we felt the time was right for a name change. This marks the conscious re-alignment of the programme to respond to the needs of pupils considering their future learning in the current state of Higher Education.
To mark this, we are changing the name of our current three-day field schools from Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) to Independent Learning Archaeology Field School (ILAFS). We feel the name ILAFS (we’re going with pronouncing it “eye-laffs”) better reflects our aims of raising the aspirations, enthusiasm and attainment of 14-17 year-olds with regard to Higher Education. The greatest benefits of the field school is that we are able to specifically supporting independent learning, demonstrate methods of historical enquiry, and most of all showcase the different methods of learning which are the particular speciality of universities.
This isn’t just a change of name for the sake of it; we’re also achieving these aims by improving the 2017 programme of field schools. The same basic structure of a two-day excavation and third day of university experience will remain. Improvements include extending the University experience to include a visit to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, more tightly directed lectures, together with wider discussion and debate of research. Altogether the ILAFS programme will showcase to pupils the benefits of university education, get them engaging at this level, and leave them with the skills to achieve this goal.
On Friday we ran our first ever CALF day- Cambridge Archaeology Learning foundation. Covering everything from what archaeology is, what we study, what it tells us and how it gets there, CALF sessions introduce the essentials of archaeology to those aged 7-11. The sessions are taught in the classroom, using a wide range of fun, hands- on activities using real artefacts.
Foxton Primary school welcomed us for our first ever CALF day were we spent the morning with a mixed year 3 and 4 class. After a brief introduction explaining what archaeology is (we don’t do dinosaurs!), we demonstrated some of the tools we use, and the kind of objects we find. Many of them had heard a bit about archaeology before, and were keen to share what they had found in their own gardens. There is nothing like some practical learning however and we soon started on our activities. Pupils loved digging through their own ‘midden’ looking for seeds to identify. Historical maps pulled on other subject skill areas as did looking at real animal bones. They had great fun identifying what the mystery skeleton was and handling a real lion skull! Pupils got to identify pieces of pottery from ACA’s excavations – and were amazed to realise that some of the pottery they held in their hand was over 2200 years old!
The second half of the morning we looked at understanding how we can tell how old objects are, and what does and does not survive. It’s a tricky concept to imagine, but with our handy ‘excavation’ in the classroom, pupils were able to dig through different layers and find objects. We then looked what the objects can tell us about the past. It may just be a bit of old pottery to you, but what did people use it for? What can it tell us about the technology of how it was made? Where is it from and what trade routes brought it here? Pupils then got to put these ideas in to practise by being the archaeologists themselves. They examined boxes of objects from different periods and came up with their own interpretations.
It was all great fun, and was repeated with a mixed year 5 and 6 class in the afternoon. The content worked well for all age groups, as archaeology is such an interesting subject, there are always more questions you can ask about the past. The rest of the school didn’t miss out on the fun however! At assembly time we played a game of Call my Bluff with some of the more unusual objects from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Archaeologists have to interpret objects to understand the people who used them, and everyone had a great time guessing what the objects were.
The sessions are designed to hit the overarching aims of the National curriculum for history and as such introduce students to ideas of historical enquiry, concepts of change, and how we use evidence. Importantly they also help demonstrate the depth of time; rather than focusing on one time period, pupils understand how they all fit together. It’s important to build on pupils’ knowledge however so examples can be linked back to topics pupils are currently studying.
Overall the days were very well received, with feedback from staff at Foxton Primary school giving very positive reviews highlighting “The combination of hands-on learning and lateral thinking” and “A good mix of both hands on and thinking. Great range of artefacts. I particularly liked the use of drawers to demonstrate the layers of earth.” Having had such a fantastic first go we are keen to offer the sessions to more schools! Sessions are currently structured as a half-day with each class but can be modified according to schools needs and budget.
Last week, the Division of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, organised a summer school event, kindly paid for by St Johns College, for prospective Cambridge University archaeology undergraduates who have just completed Year 12 and are about to start applying to university.
A total of 43 sixth-formers attended the summer school, coming from both state and private schools across the UK and abroad. Dr Martin Worthington, a lecturer in Assyriology and a fellow of St Johns College and Laure Bonner, former ACA administrator and now the Outreach and Communication Officer for the Division; organised the event, which took place over four packed days where the students stayed in St Johns College and received many talks and taster lectures as well as various tours and practical sessions about the different components of studying archaeology at Cambridge.
For two of the days, the students were also given practical excavation training in Jesus College, organised by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) with help from ACA, where the students opened five 1m2 test pits in the north-west corner of the college and behind the current graduate accommodation that fronts Lower Park Street (Map of test pits). Cat Collins of ACA also gave the students an introductory briefing the day before the digging, to prepare for the dig and relevant health and safety guidance.
Craig Cessford from the CAU as well as both Emily Ryley and Cat Collins from ACA were on hand for both days to advise and guide the students, who undertook the whole excavation process themselves. The test pit excavation and recording was based on the test pitting strategy that ACA undertake with year 9 and 10 students from local schools throughout East Anglia as part of the Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) programme. The students digging in Jesus College de-turfed, excavated, sieved and washed all the finds, recorded the test pit and then backfilled within the two days.
Previous excavations by the CAU at Jesus College had found multiple phases of occupation on site dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Age with both worked flints and Beaker pottery found, but the first phase of significant archaeology in the area was Iron Age ditched enclosures, with a later Roman field system potentially contemporary with the Roman cemetery that was excavated from property basements nearby.
A Benedictine nunnery was founded on the site during the early 12th century, dedicated to St Radegund and lay outside the city boundary, the Kings Ditch, just to the east. The nunnery lasted until the late 15th century, when it was already in a bad state of repair and it was the initiative of Bishop John Alcock of Ely to use the dilapidated church and buildings to found a new college. Jesus College was named for the chapel that was originally part of the nunnery.
All five test pits yielded a number of finds, test pit one at the far western end came down onto a large dump of material with large fragments of plates and dishes that one student in particular was very keen to try to put it all back together! The test pit was located near to the service passageway and the access gate so this part of the garden may have been used by all as a place to dispose of rubbish within a planting bed or similar feature and contained common types of table wares of the era as well as three infant feeding bottle fragments that at least shows that the servant accommodation here may have been multi-generational. Test pit two was one of the deepest excavated although was still in top soil at 0.8m and it too had a range of post medieval and later finds including a marble and a bone handle fragment with possible writing engraved on it. A number of fragments of medieval pottery were also found.
Test pit three was the central pit along the back of the cottages and through which two thin lead pipes were found along the western half of the pit which subsequently restricted the digging but a number of large fragments of butchered animal bone were discovered as well as more personal artefacts such as a slate pencil, part of a toothbrush and a likely bone parchment pricker. This would have been primarily used to prick holes down the edges of parchment as a guide for ruling lines and would have likely dated from the 13th-14th century. A white/yellow brick wall, with at least f0ur courses remaining was found through the middle of test pit four. The wall was angled at right angles to the 19th century cottages and the scarring visible on the Lower Park Street terrace houses suggests it would have likely have been a boundary garden wall to the back yards and would have stood at least 1.5m tall.
Test pit five was the eastern most pit excavated at Jesus College and may have actually been outside the original house garden boundary as there was a distinct change in the soils, with not much in the way of top soil but a lot of likely builders disturbance. Craig also taught a few of the students about taking levels of the site for the final report and then all the test pits were augured before final recording and backfilling. The auguring determined the approximate depth of the natural in each test pit, which for the majority was over 2m in-depth and would not have been reached within the confines of the test pit and the time available. These excavations have therefore demonstrated the depth of build up of the ground, potentially both through episodes of flooding as well as from human activity.
A number of inferences can be made from the test pit excavations; five sherds of Roman pottery were excavated and suggest that this area of the college lay within the surrounding Romano-British field systems or some other peripheral landscape to the Roman town of Cambridge. A single sherd of Late Anglo Saxton Thetford-type ware pottery was also found with 24 sherds of 13th-15th century pottery, all of which was mixed in with the 18th-20th century material, although it was predominately found through the lower layers of the test pits and suggesting further non-intensive and peripheral activity outside the town of Cambridge and associated with the nunnery and/or college. The bulk of all the material excavated from the excavations dated to between the 18th and 20th centuries and is broadly typical of assemblages of this date that have previously been found from Cambridge. Interestingly though there are two possible examples of collegiate ceramics that were also recorded from the test pits; one depicting a name that may relate to Jesus College but the other clearly shows the fountain from the Great Court at Trinity College.
Lecturers and staff from the Division of Archaeology also stopped by during the excavation and chatted with the students, answering questions and giving further insights into studying at the University of Cambridge. Feedback from all the students who took part in the summer school was also very positive with just over 90% of the students rating the excavation portion of the summer school was 'excellent' and a number of students also stating that they specifically enjoyed the test pit digging over the other activities. One student, when asked 'What aspects did you enjoy?' said; "I enjoyed everything. I liked the dig as I had never done that before and it was an amazing experience", whilst another student stated "The excavation, learning about the different aspects of archaeology and putting it into practice" and from another: "The excavation was enjoyable to get some hands on experience".
Many thanks must go again to all involved with organising and helping out with the summer school during the week and for St Johns College who funded the event. Thanks also to the many kind people of Jesus College who allowed all the students to dig and all in the Division who came to support both the CAU and ACA.
Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) led the recent community excavations within the Peterborough Cathedral precint, where 8 trenches were excavated by a over 150 volunteers over a 12 day period. The dig culminated last weekend with the Peterborough Heritage Festival that celebrated both the heritage and history of the city of Peterborough and the Cathedral. Each day over the Heritage Festival weekend, we also had just over 400 visitors through the gate to see the archaeology.
The community excavations were part of the Cathedral's 'Peterborough 900: Letting it speak for itself' project which had been awarded money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of these 900th anniversary celebrations of the cathedral in 2018. This will also include the construction of a new Heritage Centre at the cathedral which will enable a larger number of visitors and school groups to engage diretly with the cathedral.
The primary aims of the community excavations were to investigate the north-west area of the precints (the Garden House), which has had no previous archaeological work carried out on the area. We also wanted as many local residents as possible to be involved, whether they had had any previous interactions with the cathedral or not and to learn more about the city that they live in.
The original 7th century abbey on the site was ramsacked during 8th century by Viking raids so when the monastic site was re-founded in the 10th century, it was re-built as a cathedral on the original abbey site with the addition of a defensive ditch and embankment, known as the Burgh Wall. This wall, found during early 1980's excavations in the Deanery Garden, was projected to continue through the Garden House area. The other main feature thought to be in this area of the precint was the medieval fish pond, which was noted on 19th century maps as well as partly identifed through the geophysical survey undertaken of the Garden House site prior to the excavation.
Features were already visible within the garden prior to the excavation - a probable late 19th century wall was recorded running northwest-southeast, in front of which was a large deposit of complete bottles and jars, fragments of plates and other pots, animal bone, smoking pipes and other general domestic rubbish.
As the excavation continued in Trenches 5 and 6, the stratigraphy of the garden, both when it was part of the Deanery garden and from use of the Garden House, were evident. Towards the end of the dig, we were finding fragments of drinking vessels from Germany, almost complete clay pipes, oyster shell, decorated pottery and further butchered animal bone, most of which dated from the 16th and 17th centuries. Under this deposit we found 13th century pottery, in a black organic layer of soil which had also preserved a wooden post and part of the sole of a leather shoe.
The site of the backfilled medieval fish pond was found through trenches 1, 2, 3 and 4 and so encompassing the largest area of the site to the south of the Garden House. The pond was backfilled over a 3-year period between 1823 and 1825 and contained a large mix of material, as well as larger building remains, we also found painted plaster, medieval window glass, mortar, a 15th century Nuremburg Jetton, a coin of George IV as well as fragments of Roman pottery.
All this backfilled pond material was thought to have come from other building projects around the precint, during the 1820's so the origins of the majority of the finds recorded are not known, but the range of material recovered shows just how much disturbance there has been on the Garden House site.
Trench 1 was one of the deepest of all the trenches and it was from this trench that the northern extent of the pond was recorded. The presence of black organic rich soils that was noted in the bottom of trench 1 was also recorded in the early 1980's excavation in the Deanery Garden and so was known to be outside the Burgh Wall. It was believed that in Trench 1 that the construction of the medieval fish pond had removed any trace of the Burgh Wall within the Garden House site.
We had a mixed week with the weather, the start of the dig there were some very wet days, during the worst of which the Cathedral Archaeologist Jacky Hall gave a guided tour around the cathedral for the volunteers to learn more about the site that they are digging on.
Also learning about archaeology and the history of the cathedral site were a number of primary school children from Peterborough. All the groups got to be involved with a number of activities on site, including test pit excavation, sieving, finds washing and metal detecting. We also had help from the local Young Archaeologist Club and the Junior Friends of the cathedral.
We had much interest from the local media, including the Peterborough Telegraph, the article of which can be seen here. We were also filmed by BBC Look East and ITV Anglia news as well as making a quick appearance on the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Breakfast Show!
On the last weekend of the dig the Peterborough Heritage Festival was also going on around the precincts, where many of the volunteers and stall holders also come to visit us. We had a number of our finds on display and on the Saturday and Paul Blinkhorn, a freelance pottery expert and former Time Team and Pub Dig star was availble to talk to the visitors and answer questions. This role was filled by both the Cathedral Archaeologist Jacky Hall and ACA and CAU manager Alison Dickens on the Sunday.
A lot of the final recording of the trenches also had to take place over the weekend before the backfilling of the trenches took place on the Monday, as well as any final finds washing and the inevitable last minute investigations with a trowel!
Feedback from the excavations has been excellent, with all the volunteers saying that they rated their time on the excavations as either 'excellent' or 'good' with some volunteers also leaving positive comments, such as 'I enjoyed learning a bit more about the history of the town I have been living in for the last 15 years' (CH), 'the satisfaction of working with like-minded people. I have learnt so much in such a short time' (AB), '..the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly' (SH), 'I enjoyed seeing my 11 year old daughter getting stuck in and excited about it all' (HR) and 'being able to relate finds to my knowledge about the cathedral and helping to build a picture of what is found' (SO). KC also said 'It was good for me to gain practical experience as I'm trying to begin a career in field archaeology. I was given a lot of help and advice from the archaeologists'.
The final part of the dig was to leave the site in a safe and clear way, even though it meant filling in everyone's hard work! The next phase is to process, record and analyse all the finds so the final write up can begin. As these results become available we will put them on the ACA website and on social media - so keep following us for more results as we get them
ACA would like to thank all the volunteers, young and old who took part in the excavations, you all helped make the dig such a success. Thanks must also go to all the cathedral staff involved with the project, before and during as well as the Heritage Festival volunteers and the CAU supervisors who ran the trenches and looked after the archaeology as well as the volunteers!
Archaeological Excavations at Peterborough Cathedral are to be run jointly by Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) and the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), both of the University of Cambridge along side the Peterborough Cathedral Archaeologist as part of the 900 year celebrations of the cathedral and culminating in the Peterborough Heritage Festival, which takes place over the weekend of the 1st to the 3rd July 2016. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The excavation will run from Wednesday 22nd June through to Sunday 3rd July and a total of six trenches will be opened in the Garden House area (see map below), in the north-west part of the cathedral precincts. The trenches have been sited following a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey on the land and it is believed that finding archaeological remains pre-dating the abbey are fairly low, so the main focus of the archaeology will probably be on the Late Anglo Saxon period and later. There is a possibility that the burh (or burgh) wall crosses the garden area; this was constructed in 1005 AD when the entire precint was fortified after the abbey was re-built following Danish and Viking raids from the continent. It was when the burgh was constructed that the original Saxon name of Peterborough, Medehamstede, was changed, first to Goldenburgh and then Burgh St Peter or Peterburgh (after the saint dedication of the church and the presence of the burgh – an Old English name for fortified settlement).
How to be involved:
Volunteers are invited to take part in the excavations for a minimum of three consecutive days. Those wishing to work for further days will be put on a waiting list in case there are still spaces available shortly before the dig. The excavation is open to all ages and abilities, as there will also be opportunities not only to excavate but to be involved in less physically demanding tasks too. Children under the age of 16 may be considered, but they must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.
All volunteers will be able to work with both professional archaeologists and members of the cathedral staff. No previous experience is necessary and the allocation of places will be on a first come first served basis. Prioity will be given to those living in and around Peterborough.
If you want to take part in the excavation or for more information please email ACA directly on email@example.com or phone 01223 761519. Alternatively please download an application form and return that to us directly.
For those who do not want to dig please come and visit us anyway as we will be holding tours daily. Also keep an eye on our blog as well as social media accounts on Twitter: @AccessCambridge and @pborocathedral and on Facebook.
The spring 2016 conference of the Medeival Settlement Research Group (MSRG) will be held at the University of Lincoln over the weekend from Friday 29th April to Sunday 1st May.
This conference will review recent archaeological investigations in Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS) in eastern England, which is the focus of the majority of the work that has been undertaken by ACA over the years and a number of the speakers are coordinators from villages that have been directly involved with ACA and test pitting, either through HEFA or as community excavations.
The event will start on Friday evening with a wine reception at the University of Lincoln and a tour of the historic quarter. Saturday’s full day of papers will be followed by an optional conference dinner, while papers on Sunday morning will be rounded off with a trip to the
nearby deserted medieval village (DMV) of Riseholme, iconic as the first DMV excavation to be published in Medieval Archaeology!
For further details on the conference programme and how to register, please read the PDF or enquire directly on the MSRG website.
2014-15 was another busy academic year for Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA), directed by Dr Carenza Lewis, including a full complement of Higher Education Field Academies (HEFA), various community projects and a programme of events with HLF landscape partnership scheme, Touching the Tide.
Catherine Ranson continued in her role as archaeological supervisor with Jessica Rippengal (Division of Archaeology) providing part-time support for excavation supervision. After four years with the ACA team Clemency Cooper took up a new role with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in December 2014 and Laure Bonner joined as administrator in January 2015. Dr Jenni French (Peterhouse, Cambridge) and Dr Trish Biers (MAA) continued in assessing HEFA students’ written reports as well as delivering sessions on report writing skills during the HEFA.
In October 2014 ACA celebrated 10 years of outreach work. Dr Carenza Lewis presented a public lecture to over 200 people in which she recounted highlights of ACA’s outreach work and shared her considerable achievements in engaging schools and communities. You can read all about that event here.
In 2014-15 a total of 16 HEFAs were run in Shefford, Hillington*, North Warnborough, Brundall* (x2), Rampton, Southminster*, Walberswick, Hadleigh*, Sawtry, Blo’ Norton*, Great Amwell, Long Melford, Hindringham, Riseley and Manuden (*indicates villages excavated for the first time in 2015). In 2014-15 668 learners attended HEFA from 62 schools, accompanied by 128 school staff, with the University of Cambridge Widening Participation Project funding thereby providing 2004 learner days. 84 per cent of learners attended from high priority schools with low levels of progression rates to HE, GCSE attainment and ‘Value Added’ indices. 93 per cent of all participants rated it as ‘Excellent’ or Good’ and the number intending to apply to university increased by 18 per cent, to a Russell Group university by 49 per cent and to Cambridge by 55 per cent.
Additionally, ACA carried out several community outreach projects in East Anglia throughout 2014/15. Under ACA supervision, in September and May, Stour Valley Community Archaeology continued excavations of the well-preserved late Anglo-Saxon manorial complex at Goldingham Hall, Bulmer (Essex).
In September, encouraged by the success of their community project in 2012, residents of Nayland (Suffolk) carried out further excavations of 16 test-pits with the support of ACA, identifying a surge of 11th c. activity in this region of the Stour Valley. Funded by the Sudbury Museums Trust (Suffolk), in October ACA ran the ‘Sudbury Big Dig’ where 31 test pits were dug by more than 100 local residents and school children revealing the early Anglo-Saxon origins of the town.
In conjunction with Touching the Tide ACA ran two community-based projects on the Suffolk Coast. The first event in January saw 36 local residents braving the cold to fieldwalk at Covehithe, a village rapidly eroding into the North Sea.
The second project was a 9-day excavation at Dunwich intent on revealing the remains of this once-thriving medieval port. Around 50 local volunteers, ranging in age from 6 to 80, uncovered a well-preserved c. 12th century street and associated house plot, original medieval harbour revetments and evidence for the original eastern boundary wall of the Greyfriar’s precinct. This excavation highlighted the previously unknown extent of medieval archaeology still surviving in Dunwich today which will hopefully lead to further coastal archaeological work before this valuable resource is lost forever to the sea.
Touching the Tide also provided funding for a 6-week archaeological internship, specifically focused on the Dunwich dig. Nina O’Hare, a recent archaeology graduate of the University of Cambridge, was the successful candidate and her role focused on background research, liaising with the local community and post-excavation work. We wish Nina all the best for the future and are pleased that she has now gone on to secure a position as a field archaeologist with Worcestershire County Council.
After 11 years as ACA’s founder and director, Dr Carenza Lewis left the University of Cambridge for a professorship at the University of Lincoln. Carenza is now a Professor of the Public Understanding of Research and maintains close links with ACA and the HEFA programme.
2015-16 is shaping up to be another exciting year for ACA. Currently, 15 HEFAs are scheduled for the spring/summer and ACA will also be working on a number of outreach events with the Division of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. We are also carrying out further community events in conjunction with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit and several local community groups in East Anglia. The HEFA programme is also going further afield and has already been trialled in Lincolnshire (in conjunction with the University of Lincoln) with great success. Watch this space!
ACA had the pleasure of taking part in the first ever HEFA in Lincolnshire 21-23 October, 2015 as a collaborative venture between the University of Cambridge and the University of Lincoln funded by the Lincolnshire Outreach Network, a partnership of higher education institutions and colleges in greater Lincolnshire. As part of her new position as Professor of Public Understanding of Research at the University of Lincoln Carenza Lewis, former ACA director and HEFA founder, wanted to bring the highly-successful HEFA programme to Lincolnshire and hopefully this is the first of many field academies to come.
The village of Bardney, a site well-known for its Abbey ruins, hosted a total of 40 Year 9 – 13 students who represented 12 different schools from throughout the county including: William Farr School, Caistor Yarborough Academy, Melior Community Academy, Peele Community Academy, Boston High School, South Axholme Academy, Branston Community Academy, Giles Academy, Lincoln Castle Academy, Priory LSST, Kesteven and Grantham Girls School and West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s. The 10 test-pits in the village were organised by Pat Rennie of the Bardney Heritage Group and were located on Abbey Road, Queen Street, Station Road, Church Lane and Manor Farm Lane and the base for the two digging days was the Methodist Hall on Church Lane.
The students worked in mixed school groups and were supervised by teachers, volunteers from the University of Lincoln and members of Lincoln Archaeology Group for Excavation Education and Research.
After receiving a briefing on Day 1 from Professor Lewis about how to excavate and record the test pits, the students went out and started digging (just after it finished raining)! Cat Ranson, ACA senior archaeological supervisor, and Laure Bonner, ACA administrator, toured the test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds. Alex Beeby, Heritage Lincolnshire pottery specialist, was also on site on Day 2 to help identify finds and date pottery sherds.
Having experts on hand to provide real-time feedback about finds and dates is highly appreciated by the participants and is always included in the feedback: “I also enjoyed finding out what the items we found were, where they dated from and why they were of significance,” (GO) and “I enjoyed learning whether the artefact was from the medieval or from another period.” (GW) The finalised pottery report, written by Paul Blinkhorn, pottery expert, can be downloaded here.
In this first phase of test-pitting in Bardney, no evidence was uncovered of an Anglo-Saxon settlement which is suprising as Bardney Abbey was first founded in the 7th century and the village is recorded in the Domesday Book. It is hoped that further test pits can be excavated in the village in the future; ideally 30-40 pits give a good idea about settlement patterns. Based on our findings from last week the highest concentration of High medieval pottery (c. mid 11th century to end of 14th century) came from the pits near St Lawrence Church and those on Station Road, although 80% of test pits produced some high medieval pottery. 70% of pits produced Late Medieval pottery which suggests at least initially that Bardney may not have been too badly devastated by the Black Death in the 14th century.
Test pits 2 and 3 both produced impressive amounts of large, non-abraded medieval and post-medieval pottery. TP 2 produced a possible medieval iron arrowhead and iron buckle. TP 3 also had a few small finds of note, to include a leather shoe sole and post-Medieval carved bone knife handle. The iron artefacts and shoe sole will be conserved at the University of Lincoln.
We were pleased that the event received so much media attention, including a feature on both ITV Calendar, which you can view here, and a segment on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. The Lincolnshire Echo also produced an article with lots of fun photographs which you can view here.
The aims of HEFA are many and once the practical archaeological portion had been completed in Bardney, it was time to learn more about higher education. Students spent Day 3 of the HEFA at the University of Lincoln. They learned about how their hard work contributes to ongoing university research, including the study of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements, and how to develop and deploy skills for life, learning and employment such as data analysis, communication skills and team working.
HEFA students also had the opportunity to tour around the university and have lunch. Students always enjoy this opportunity and specifically commented in feedback “I enjoyed being in the uni and having a taste of what uni is,” (IC) and “I also enjoyed finding more out about university life through the campus tour and have a better idea of my options within higher education.” (GO) They also received a talk from Abi Paine of the Lincolnshire Outreach Network about applying to university and future opportunities.
This was followed by a presentation on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation by Dr Trish Biers of the University of Cambridge. The mark scheme and additional information about the written assignment can be found here.
In feedback after the HEFA, 94% of participants rated the event as “Excellent” or “Good”. General comments in feedback from the students included, “I’ve become more confident in myself and my skills have developed and I would recommend the HEFA experience,” (EW) “I have gained experience in working in a team and learning about university” (ER) and “I enjoyed making new friends in our test pit group and working in a team.” (TC) School staff commented, “The field academy is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain an insight into higher education, gain totally new experiences and meet pupils from other schools. Excellent skills for the future. When can I come again!?!” (AH)
ACA would like to thank the students and staff of all the schools involved, the supervisors and the residents of Bardney for making this first Lincolnshire HEFA so successful. Special thanks go to Pat for organising the pits, to Emma of the University of Lincoln and Abi of the Lincolnshire Outreach Network for coordinating the students and staff and for funding the project.
If you've ever done any original archaeological fieldwork or research and can spare 10 minutes, please complete this Historic England survey here which is all about assessing the amount of archaeology, historic building and local history research being undertaken by voluntary groups in England. Thanks!
Touching the Tide, (a heritage lottery funded project based in Suffolk) the Dunwich Museum, and Dunwich Greyfriars Trust, under the supervision of Access Cambridge Archaeology, will be carrying out an archaeological dig exploring medieval Dunwich between the 27th July and the 4th August.
Dr Carenza Lewis will direct the excavations with professional archaeologists from Access Cambridge Archaeology. Four trenches will be opened over the 9 day dig, to be sited between Greyfriars and the sea within the old city walls as well as at the edge of the old harbourside.
The dig Open Day is 1st August, 10am - 4pm, based out of the car park at Dunwich beach. So, if you're planning on being in the area make sure to put the date in your diary and come see what's been discovered! We look forward to welcoming you on site.
This article originally appeared in the University of Cambridge HE Teachers and HE Advisers' Newsletter May 2015
HEFA Goes National!
The University of Cambridge is recruiting hundreds of teenagers from across the country to dig up the past and raise their aspirations for the future.
Led by Dr Carenza Lewis of Time Team fame, The Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) has already transformed 5,000 state school pupils in the East of England into budding archaeologists and aspiring university researchers. Now the University has decided to roll the programme out to the rest of the country, and is inviting schools to apply to join the 2016 digging season (March – July).
Over the last ten years, HEFA has become one of the University’s most successful Widening Participation projects, raising the aspirations, enthusiasm and attainment of thousands of 14-17 year-olds, as well as inspiring their teachers. Of the 521 learners who attended HEFA in 2012-13, 96% rated their experience ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, while more than 80% completed the course with new skills and feeling more positive about applying to university.
Working in small mixed-school groups, HEFA recruits spend two days running their own archaeological excavation (a 1m2 test pit) in a local village, where they get the chance to unearth history for the first time. Their discoveries are used, like clues from a crime scene, to reconstruct the development of settlements and population change over time.
Dr Lewis comments, ‘Our young investigators have found everything from Stone Age tools to medieval pottery and even human skeletons. That moment of discovery is a real adrenalin rush and our diggers make a genuine contribution to the university's research into the historic development of rural communities and the impact of events such as the Black Death.’
Day Three of the HEFA programme is spent at the University of Cambridge analysing the excavations in group sessions which help participants to produce a written analysis for assessment.
Crucially, HEFA promotes learning through archaeology rather than just about archaeology, and therefore benefits students interested in all avenues of university study. The programme offers an inspiring taste of life and learning at university level and develops a wide range of transferrable knowledge and skills (including verbal communication, structured working, creative thinking, reflective learning, persistence, team working, data analysis and report writing) as well as boosting academic confidence. During the course, participants are encouraged to think about their ambitions for the future and to maintain contact with the University of Cambridge afterwards to help them realise their aims.
The HEFA programme is endorsed by the University of Cambridge and the OCR exam board in recognition of the level of cross-curricular challenge it offers young people to achieve in three distinct areas (1) practical fieldwork, (2) personal, learning and thinking skills and (3) data analysis and report writing. Participants receive detailed feedback in recognition of their attainment in each of these areas which are of considerable value in supporting their future application to university, enabling them to demonstrate major achievement across a wide range of skills.
HEFA is aimed at pupils (School Years 9-12) at the top of the academic ability range (capable of achieving eight or more GCSE’s at Grade B or above), one of its key objectives being to raise admissions from the state sector to leading universities. Schools interested in taking part should contact Access Cambridge Archaeology on firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on Tuesday 30 June.
More information about HEFA can be found here.
Applications are invited for a Temporary (6-week) Archaeological Internship within ACA funded by the HLF through the Touching the Tide Landscape Partnership Scheme.
Please see the following pdf for further details. Applications are due by 12pm (noon), Monday 15th June 2015.
Rampton, Cambridgeshire was the site of ACA’s fourth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of the 2015 season. Held on 22nd – 24th April, 2015, a total of 38 Year 9, 10 and 11 pupils from Cottenham Village College, Soham Village College, Ely College, Witchford Village College and Cambridge Home Educating Families excavated 11 test-pits throughout the village. Alison Wedgbury of the Fen Edge Archaeology Group organised the test-pits which were located in the gardens of local residents and Rampton Village Hall served as the base for the two digging days. This is the second year ACA have held a HEFA in Rampton. Last year’s reports can be found here.
Rampton is located on the edge of The Fens six miles to the north of Cambridge. The 11 x 1m2 test pits were located on King Street, The Green, Church End, Cow Lane and the High Street. These locations were chosen in an effort to ‘fill in the gaps’ between the 2014 test pits.
The students worked in mixed-school teams of 3 or 4 and were supervised by teachers and local volunteers. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 by Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA, about how to excavate and record the test pits, the students went out on site and excavated for 2 days through the heavy clay of Rampton. For the second HEFA in a row, one test pit (TP 11) managed to find old greenhouse foundations! Regardless, the teams persevered with excavating and recording which has shed new light on the history of the development of Rampton.
We were pleased that Cambridge News sent out a photographer on Wednesday, 22nd April and that such an image-rich article was included in the newspaper the next day. The article and image gallery can be found here.
Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, and John Newman, pottery expert, toured the test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds and pottery sherds. This real-time identification and assistance is valued by the participants as reflected in their feedback: “I enjoyed having experts coming round and explaining what the finds were” (EG) and “The people and supervisors helping out were lovely and made the whole experience much more enjoyable” (AW). The finalised pottery report can be found here.
The students recorded all of their findings context-by-context in their individual Test Pit Excavation Record Booklet. This is not only an invaluable asset in helping to produce their written assignment, but also informs academic research and becomes part of the permanent record about each test pit kept on file at the University of Cambridge.
Reviewing the finds from both 2014 and 2015 has better informed our idea of how Rampton developed. There is still no significant evidence of any prehistoric activity, so the earliest pottery is of Roman date. In 2014 only pits on Cow Lane produced any Roman sherds, but in 2015 two pits on King Street further to the south produced sherds. No Early Anglo-Saxon pottery is evident, however, two adjacent pits on King Street southwest of the green produced Late Anglo-Saxon sherds. The finds of High Medieval pottery seem to be concentrated around the centre of the current village with Late Medieval sherds coming from just outside that. It is only into the Post-Medieval and Victorian ages that dating evidence emerges from the furthest outlying pits (TPs 1 & 11) although, TP1 did produce some interesting burnt bone.
ACA were fortunate enough to have Dr Nick James, an Affiliated Scholar of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, come out to Rampton and have a tour around the test pits. Dr James, who was incredibly impressed with the hard work, methodology and attention to detail of the participants, will form part of the HEFA team in 2016.
The students spent the third day of the HEFA in Cambridge where they learned not only about university but also about how their individual test-pits fit into the wider picture. Carenza’s lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project is always popular, especially as it’s the first time most of the students have experienced a university lecture. They commented afterwards, “I enjoyed learning about the history of rural settlements and what we can find out from our excavations” (AS) and “I really enjoyed attending the lectures, like a uni student!” (EN).
The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Downing, Emmanuel and St John’s Colleges. These tours were given by the schools liaison officers (SLO) from each of these colleges. Lizzie Dobson, SLO for Emmanuel College, then gave a presentation to the pupils about the University of Cambridge and life as a university student.
The day concluded with Dr Trish Biers of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology giving a presentation on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation. These reports go on to form part of the archive at The University of Cambridge.
In feedback after the HEFA 97% of the participants rated the field academy as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. The students enjoyed working in a team, learning how to do something new and learning about life at The University of Cambridge. Students commented, “I have gained knowledge of archaeological excavating and of the medieval era. I have also gained the ability to work and co-operate in a team” (RS), “It was very engaging and taught me a lot about an area of study I was already interested in” (NT) and “I have gained useful skills that I will be able to apply in Sixth Form and later in life, university and work.” (AIS). Teachers also commented that, “Our students have gained a broader perspective and ideas for future directions.” (KS) and “Our students enjoyed learning together, outside the classroom. A fantastic three days – thank you so much!” (JB).
ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the schools involved. Special thanks to Kerri Wilson and Joshua Blunt for being the beacon school coordinators, to Alison Wedgbury and John Stanford of the Fen Edge Archaeology Group in their help on the day and in organising the test-pits, and to Dr Jenni French and Dr Nick James of the University of Cambridge.
ACA’s third Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of 2015 was held in Brundall, Norfolk. 36 Year 9 and 10 pupils from Aylsham High School, Taverham High School and Broadland High School and 1 Year 7 pupil from Jane Austen College excavated 10 test-pits spread throughout the village. Local residents also joined in to dig pits in their own gardens. All of the pits were organised by Jacky Heath and Ann-Marie Simpson of the Brundall Local History Group. St Laurence Church served as the base for the two days of excavation. This is the first year ACA have held a HEFA in Brundall, however, a second field academy will be held here in June with pupils from OpenOpportunity Norwich. It is anticipated that local residents will again join in with digging their own test pits in June as well.
Brundall is a small village east of Norwich on the bank of the river Yare. The 10 x 1m2 test pits were spread throughout the village on Postwick Lane, Roman Drive, The Street, Brigham Close and Chancel Close.
The students worked in mixed-school teams of 3 or 4 and were supervised by teachers and local volunteers. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 by Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA, about how to excavate and record the test pits, the students went on to make excellent progress throughout the two days of digging.
Spirits remained high even though some pits had particularly difficult layers to get through, including coming down onto the brick foundations of an old greenhouse! We were also pleased that the Eastern Daily Press sent a reporter out on Thursday 16th April to cover the event. That news article is available here
Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, and Paul Blinkhorn, post-Roman pottery specialist, toured the Brundall test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds and pottery sherds. Paul’s finalised pottery report can be read here
The students record all of their findings context-by-context in their individual Test Pit Excavation Record Booklet. This is not only an invaluable asset in helping to produce their written assignment, but also informs academic research and becomes part of the permanent record about each test pit kept on file at the University of Cambridge. One pupil nicely summed up their HEFA experience by remarking, “I enjoyed finding objects that help our understanding of Brundall and I have gained experience of creating theories for the past.” (SP)
Test Pits 6 and 7 located on Chancel Close both had Bronze Age pottery and burnt flint which suggests potential prehistoric activity, especially as they’re located on higher ground overlooking the river Yare. A find of particular note was a sherd of decorated Early Anglo-Saxon pottery, possibly from a cremation urn. This sherd dating to the 6th-7th centuries AD is only the second of its type found in the more than 2000 test pits dug over the past 10 years as part of ACA’s HEFA programme. Not bad for 1 in 1000 odds!
As this is the first series of test-pitting in Brundall it is difficult to ascertain an overall picture of how the village has developed. Although Brundall is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, only one test pit (TP 6) yielded any Late Saxon Pottery. The High Medieval to Late Medieval pottery finds, though, seem to suggest a shifting of the occupation from the west of the village to further east along the modern-day line of The Street. The second Brundall HEFA in June will aim to have its test pits located in different parts of the village to provide a more encompassing view of the village’s development.
On the third day of the HEFA, the students arrived to a beautifully sunny day in Cambridge. Carenza’s morning lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project again proved to be popular with many pupils commenting that they really enjoyed “learning how research is done” (LC) and “I enjoyed learning about medieval settlements and historical artefacts”. (FJ)
The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Newnham, Pembroke, Peterhouse and Corpus Christi Colleges. The two-hour afternoon session was comprised of a talk from Dr Sam Lucy, Admissions Tutor and Financial Tutor from Newnham College, about the University of Cambridge and life as a university student. This was followed by a presentation on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation.
In feedback after the HEFA, 100% of the participants rated the field academy as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. The students enjoyed visiting and learning more about the University of Cambridge, working as part of a team with new people from different schools and contributing to valuable university research. Students commented “HEFA was amazing! A great and informative experience.” (JS), “My HEFA course has helped me to understand the world around me through the support of the HEFA team” (GLS) and “It has really given me an insight into how university works.” (HW) One staff member said “I think the students loved the fact that they were doing something not done before and recording something that will be used by the university. They have gained new skills, more self-reliance and motivation. For many it’s really helped inspire or confirm for them that university is what they want to do.” (MR)
ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the 4 schools involved. Special thanks to Nigel Roberts, beacon school coordinator, and Jacky Heath and Ann-Marie Simpson, local coordinators.
ACA’s second Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of 2015 was held in North Warnborough, Hampshire. 48 Year 9 pupils from Fort Hill Community School, The Costello School, Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, Robert May’s School and The Connaught School excavated 12 test-pits spread throughout North Warnborough. The pits were organised by Liz Good and other members of The Odiham Society. The Mill House Restaurant served as the base for the two days of excavation. This is the third consecutive year ACA have held a HEFA in North Warnborough. Reports from previous years can be found .
The 12 x 1m square test pits were spread throughout the small village in North East Hampshire, located in private properties on Hook Road, King John’s Road, Dunley’s Hill, Castle Rise, Mill Lane, and Chapel Pond Drive. Two pits each were also located on the recreation ground and in the grounds of The Mill House Restaurant.
The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 and were supervised by teachers from the 5 schools. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 by Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA, about how to excavate and record the test pits, the students went on to make excellent progress throughout the two days of digging. Spirits remained high even though some pits had particularly muddy or chalky conditions layers to get through. We were also pleased that the Basingstoke Gazette sent a reporter out on Wednesday 25th March to cover the event. That news article will be available here once it has been published online.
Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, and Paul Blinkhorn, post-Roman pottery specialist, toured the North Warnborough test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds and pottery sherds. This information is recorded by the students in their individual Test Pit Excavation Record Booklet which is an invaluable asset in producing their written assignment. On pupil remarked, “I enjoyed being able to find out a little bit about what we found as soon as we found it because it gave us an idea of how it was changing as we got deeper.” (PL) Paul’s finalised pottery report can be read here.
Test pit 8 was sited at a known 20th century coal yard and as such came down on a heavily compacted chalk floor surface at approximately 20cm. Chalk is incredibly difficult to dig, but their perseverance paid off as finds were still coming out of this exceptionally hard layer.
No Early, Middle or late Anglo-Saxon finds have been found in the 3 years of test-pitting in North Warnborough, but further High Medieval pottery has been found along Bridge Road and Hook Road, again comparable with previous years.
On the third day of the HEFA, the students (after a rather long coach journey) arrived to a beautifully sunny day in Cambridge. Carenza’s morning lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project was really well received with many pupils commenting that they really enjoyed “learning more about what we discovered, the lecture on medieval settlements and the archaeological information from Dr Lewis.” (MG,LT)
The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Christ’s, Newnham and Sidney Sussex Colleges.
The two-hour afternoon session was comprised of a talk from Andy Avery, Schools Liaison Officer from Christ’s College, about life as a university student followed by a presentation from Dr Jenni French on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation.
In feedback after the HEFA, 92% of the participants rated the field academy as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. The students enjoyed visiting the University of Cambridge, learning how to do something new and working as part of a team with new people from different schools. Students commented “I just really enjoyed everything.” (AM), “This was a great experience overall; all the lectures were very informative and I gained new skills.” (JLR) and “It was really enjoyable and a good learning experience.” (EL) One staff member said “The students enjoyed seeing the university campus and they have gained the belief that they can come to a top university and it is not out of their reach.” (AH)
ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the 5 schools involved. Special thanks to Karen Jones, beacon school coordinator, and Liz Good, local coordinator.
The 2015 Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) season kicked off last week in Hillington, Norfolk. The 34 Year 9 and 1 Year 8 pupils in charge of digging the 9 test-pits in Hillington were from Springwood High School, King Edward VII High School and Thomas Clarkson Academy. James Smith, teacher at Springwood High School, coordinated the students taking part while Dr Clive Bond of the West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Archaeological Society (WNKLAS) liaised with local residents to find sites to excavate. The 1m square test pits were located in the gardens of private properties on Station Road and Wheatfields and in the grounds of The Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House. Our base for the two days of excavation was The Ffolkes Arms Hotel and Country Club.
The students worked in mixed-school teams of 3 or 4 and were supervised by Springwood High School sixth formers and members of WNKLAS. After having a briefing on Day 1 by Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA, about how to excavate and record the test pits, the students went on to make excellent progress throughout the two days of digging. Although at times the weather turned a bit chilly and windy, spirits remained high with one student commenting afterwards: “I loved it!!” (SS).
Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, and Jess Rippengal, faunal remains expert, toured the Hillington test pits offering guidance on excavating and recording techniques. We were also delighted that the local newspaper, Lynn News, sent a reporter out on Thursday 19th March to cover the event. That news article will be available here once it has been published online.
On-site pottery expert, Andrew Rogerson, identified a few sherds of Iron Age pottery coming from test pits 4 and 8 in the grounds of Up Hall, initially indicating perhaps that the oldest known settlement at Hillington originated in this southeastern part of the modern village near St Mary’s Church. Such large sherds of prehistoric pottery are an unusual find. Other identified sherds of later Ipswich and Thetford ware seemingly point to the spreading out of the village towards the northwest in the Middle to late Saxon period c. 700-1100 A.D. As always, make sure to check our website in the near future for the complete pottery report.
On the third day of the HEFA, the students arrived to a rather overcast Cambridge (no visible solar eclipse here!) and all the schools took the opportunity in the morning to spend a little extra time seeing what the city has to offer: a tour around the Fitzwilliam Museum, a wander around King’s College, a bit of shopping.
Day 3 of the HEFA began with a taster lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project by Dr Carenza Lewis. The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity Hall, Sidney Sussex and Peterhouse Colleges.
The two-hour afternoon session was comprised of a talk from Katie Vernon, Schools Liaison Officer for both Trinity Hall and Robinson Colleges, about life as a university student followed by a presentation from Dr Jenni French on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation.
In feedback after the event, 100% of the participants rated the field academy as ‘excellent’ or ‘good. The students thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work as part of a team, learning new skills and finding things with one participant summing their HEFA experience up nicely: “It was fun and enjoyable and you don’t need to like archaeology to have a go. I think everyone should take part.” (SS) Another “enjoyed being able to work in a new place and know that no one else had touched that piece of land” (GN). One staff member said afterwards that she thought her students had gained “a greater awareness of what archaeology is, what it involves and how it helps us understand more about humankind’s history over time. Also, they’ve gained a greater appreciation of the importance of procedures and detailed studies in doing research.” (LW)
ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the three schools involved as well as the dedicated members of WNKLAS for making this first HEFA of 2015 such a success!
The University of Cambridge was the first university in the UK to teach Archaeology and is indeed celebrating 100 years of offering a degree in the subject in 2015. The current undergraduate course approaches different period, area and methodological focuses in the subject through theory and practice in both the humanities and the sciences. The Archaeology Division's website includes testimonials from students about the fieldwork opportunities available here and the graduate career prospects here. The study of Archaeology at Cambridge also includes Egyptology and Assyriology, and is part of the Human, Social and Political Science Tripos which offers both breadth and specialisation across a range of disciplines.
Students attending the Study Day at St John's College on 23rd March 2015 will receive sample lectures from academics on subjects including archaeological science, forensic archaeology, ancient languages and the world of the pharaohs, and will take part in small-group discussions and workshops with current students. The day will also involve lunch and a tour of St John's, with advice from the College's admissions team on how to make a competitive application to Cambridge. The draft programme is available here.
Registration for the event is now open on the St John's College website here, and will close on Monday 9th March 2015. The Study Day is open to individuals and small groups (no more than 4 students per school/college) in the UK. Priority will be given to students attending state-maintained schools if the event is oversubscribed. For more information, please contact the St John's College Access Officer, Megan Roberts, at email@example.com.
Over 35 participants braved the chilly, windy conditions in Covehithe, Suffolk. Covehithe is located on the North Sea coast approximately 4 miles (6.4km) north of Southwold and suffers from the highest rate of erosion in the UK with nearly 5m disappearing into the sea every year. As such, the recovery and recording of its remaining archaeology is all the more necessary.
Dr Carenza Lewis of ACA gave a presentation on the benefits and methods of fieldwalking before the fieldwalkers headed out into the barely-above-freezing conditions. A field immediately to the west of Covehithe Church was gridded out at 20m intervals and teams of two were sent out to systematically collect finds from their allocated grids.
This field yielded a wide range of finds from Neolithic flint flakes, Roman pottery, one sherd of Anglo-Saxon pottery, all the way through medieval and post-medieval sherds. Even at this early stage the finds from this field have given us a better idea where the medieval settlement was located in and around the church prior to the Black Death. Once the finds are cleaned up and identified by experts, a report will be made available on this blog and the ACA website here.
The majority of participants were from the local area and chose to join in because they were interested in both archaeology and the local history of the site. The event was rated good or excellent by 100% of participants with 94% rating it as excellent. Participants commented that the fieldwalking was “interesting, educational, fun and healthy.” Many were keen to carry on fieldwalking in the future and even set up their own groups!
Thank you to all the volunteers who braved the cold and wintry elements and special thanks to Bill Jenman and Kate Osborne of Touching the Tide for organising the fieldwalking and providing copious amounts of cake, Wood Farm Barn for hosting us and pottery expert John Newman for his on-site expertise.
Watch an ITV Anglia news report about the event here:
Originally aired on ITV Anglia on Thursday 22nd January 2015
On Saturday 17th January, Access Cambridge Archaeology held their 9th annual Thank-You Day event to thank all HEFA coordinators past and present in the McDonald Institute for Archaeology Research here in Cambridge. A lot of work goes into organising each HEFA event with arrangements made by local coordinators who oversee the set up of the dig, as well as many logistics, including recruiting sites for test pitting and are also the main point of contact for us and volunteers. Their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication is essential for the continuation of ACA’s work, not only in the reasearch of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS), but with also the young people who attend each HEFA, giving them a unique experience and insight into both archaeology as well as higher education and enables them to develop personal, social, analytical and learning skills for their futures.
ACA’s director, Dr Carenza Lewis, began the day by showing photographs and the main results from the 13 HEFA’s in 2014 which involved 52 schools throughout East Anglia and Hampshire that were attended by 526 students with 98 members of school staff, who dug a total of 211 test pits. This takes the total number of 1m² test pits excavated by the end of 2014 to an impressive 1,891 from ACA’s beginning in 2005!
The 13 villages that were excavated in in 2014 were mainly return visits to sites where we had previously excavated, including Writtle (Essex), Acle (Norfolk), Walberswick (Suffolk), Garboldisham (Norfolk), Daws Heath (Essex), Long Melford (Suffolk), Great Amwell (Hertfordshire), North Warnborough (Hampshire), Hindringham (Norfolk) and Manuden (Essesx). The new villages involved for the first time in 2014 were Rampton (Cambridgeshire), Sawtry (Cambridgeshire) and Riseley (Bedfordshire).
After a buffet lunch in the McDonald, where there was also a chance to socialise with the ACA team as well as with other coordinators, before the start of the afternoon talk, which focused on the community work that ACA has been involved with over the past 12 months throughout the country.
With Touching the Tide, a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) three year landscape partnership scheme along the Suffolk coastline, ACA undertook both fieldwalking and geophysics at Snape in Suffolk, as well as test pitting through both Southwold and Reydon on the north Suffolk coast. Additional test pitting was undertaken in both Sudbury and Nayland, both in Suffolk as well as further excavations by Stour Valley Community Archaeology group (SVCA) at Goldingham Hall.
The presentations also looked back at the celebration of 10 years of ACA that was held in October 2014 at the University of Cambridge, where Dr Lewis looked back over the last decade and the work that has been undertaken by ACA with its related research and outreach. This was then followed by a drinks reception hosted by the Festival of Ideas at the University of Cambridge that was attended by close friends and collegues of ACA. The day ended with a look at what the future will hold for ACA, including plans to take the HEFA programme nationally across England over the next four years.
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Theand the are both undertaking oral history projects.
These two independent museums are working together to document the history of engineering in the city, as well as recording the understanding of the city's history as it is understood by local adults with neurological conditions.
The two projects are being developed according to a high industrial standard, and offers a chance for volunteers see how these projects are run from start to finish, along with providing training for oral history work. Volunteers are needed to help record, transcribe, and catalogue interviews within an archive, develop reminiscence boxes, and handle the administration that goes in to oral histories.
We would be happy to accept volunteers from three hours to three years – if you have time you would like to donate, we can find a place for you! If you are passionate about history and want to help preserve Cambridge's past, then please contact Sheldon at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are still a small number of places available if you would like to learn about and take part on a fieldwalking event in Covehithe, north of Southwold in Suffolk. This will be run by the Heritage Lottery funded Touching the Tide landscape partnership project along with Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA)
Volunteers are still needed for the Wednesday 21st January, the first of two days of fieldwalking in Covehithe (the 22nd is now fully booked).
If you would like to take part, it is not too late and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Please email email@example.com with your name, email address and phone number and then also send a cheque for £10 (payable to Suffolk County Council) and post it to:
Touching the Tide Project Manager
Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB
Dock Lane, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1PE
For more information about the dig please click here. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to help out, as long as they can spare the time and it doesn’t matter if you haven’t fieldwalked before, so long as you have both the enthusiasm and tthe interest to be outside looking for finds in the middle of winter!
We would just like to wish everyone a very merry christmas from us all here at Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA), and we'll be looking forward to starting a new field season of Archaeology in the spring, so hopefully we'll be seeing many of you then for a great 2015.
The ACA office will be closed from the end of today and will re-open on Monday 5th January 2015.
To see the full version of the ACA card please click here
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As part of the Heritage Lottery funded Touching the Tide landscape partnership project, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) are currently looking for volunteers to take part in fieldwalking at Covehithe, north of Southwold, in Suffolk, on Thursday 22nd January (weather permitting), to follow on from the already fully booked day on Wednesday 21st January.
Ten more places are still available on the Thursday but they will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
If you wish to take part, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address and phone number and then also send a cheque for £10 (payable to Suffolk County Council) and post it to:
Touching the Tide Project Manager
Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB
Dock Lane, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1PE
For more information about the dig please click here. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to help out, as long as they can spare the time and it doesn’t matter if you haven’t fieldwalked before, so long as you have both the enthusiasm and tthe interest to be outside looking for finds in the middle of winter!
The job description and further particulars are available on the University of Cambridge's job opportunities website here.
The job description and person specification, along with details of how to apply, are available to view on the University of Cambridge's job vacancies website here. A document of 'Further Particulars' is also available here.
Informal enquiries may be addressed to Mr Mark Newman email@example.com (tel. 01223 333529).
Dr Lewis' article 'Teenagers, archaeology and the Higher Education Field Academy 2005-11' can be downloaded from the ACA website here, and features in the Winter 2014 issue of English Heritage's Conservation Bulletin on the theme of 'Children and Place'.
Issue 73 of the Conservation Bulletin will soon be available to download in full on the English Heritage webpage here, and includes articles related to the subjects of 'Places in Childhood', 'Heritage and Education' and 'Place-based Learning'. Carenza's article is on p32-33.
To find out more about the impact of HEFA on participants' aspirations, enthusiasm and attainment, please see the webpage here.
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The article features in a monograph called 'Living in the Landscape: essays in honour of Graeme Barker' and has just been published by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research to mark the retirement of Graeme Barker from the Disney Professorship of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.
'The Power of Pits: Archaeology, Outreach and Research in Living Landscapes' by Dr Carenza Lewis is available to view here. You can also read copies of her annual submission to the Medieval Settlement Research Group about the results of the archaeological test pit excavations conducted by ACA in Currently Occupied Rural Settlements on the website here.
Dr Jody Joy of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology begins with a summary of the museum's public events and outreach activities bringing people into the university before ACA's Director, Dr Carenza Lewis, talks about her decade-long work to enhance people's educational, economic and social well-being through active participation in archaeology outside the university. Carenza's talk starts at 7:56 in the recording. You can also download the accompanying presentation slides here.
Photos of the lecture and of the reception afterwards taken by ACA's archaeological supervisor, Catherine Ranson, can be viewed on the ACA Facebook group here.
Dr Lewis began her outreach work leading classroom-based activities on the theme of archaeology in schools in the autumn of 2004 and ran the first Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) in collaboration with the former government's widening participation scheme, Aimhigher, in summer 2005. Since then, over 4000 school students have participated in HEFA and Carenza has expanded Access Cambridge Archaeology's (ACA) outreach programme to encompass a wide range of different community-based projects including archaeological excavation, field-walking, test pit excavation, local history, oral history and history trails.
Last night's lecture brought together people who have been involved in ACA's activities from all across the eastern region including school staff, local coordinators, members of local history and archaeology societies, archaeological specialists, volunteers and participants. As well as Carenza's presentation of the specific aims and outcomes of ACA's outreach, the event provided a chance to publicly discuss the different ways in which archaeology in general can not only uniquely engage people in the research of a world-renowned university such as Cambridge but also give them the opportunity to enhance their educational, economic and social well-being.
Following on from Jody's talk about the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology opening the doors of the University of Cambridge to members of the public, Carenza outlined her rationale for the importance of also going out into local communities to give people the opportunity for hands-on participation in making archaeological discoveries. She began with an outline of her career and spoke about her involvement in the Channel 4 series Time Team which confirmed for her the popular appeal and empowering potential of hands-on learning about the past. When Carenza left the series and began working for the University of Cambridge, she was invited to set up a new outreach and widening participation programme at the Division of Archaeology. She talked about the development and expansion of HEFA and later, a wide range of dedicated community projects. One example she gave was ACA's involvement in running and supervising archaeological activities as part of the Hertiage Lottery Funded Managing a Masterpiece project on the Essex-Suffolk border in 2011-2013. A nine day excavation at Clare Castle in Suffolk in May 2013 involved 112 volunteers, several of whom went on to found Stour Valley Community Archaeology to continue offering community archaeology fieldwork opportunities in the area.
Since 2005, a staggering 1891 archaeological test pits have been dug by school students and community volunteers with ACA in 64 settlements in 11 different counties. Carenza showed distribution maps and graphs of the test pit excavation results using pottery as a proxy for population levels which demonstrate the catastrophic and spatially variable impact of the Black Death in East Anglia. She concluded her lecture with a reflection on not only the tangible outcomes of archaeological outreach such as artefacts, maps and publications but also the intangible legacies of raising young peoples' aspirations for the future and strengthening communities through shared experiences and connections.
After their talks, Jody and Carenza were asked to the stage again to take questions. Audience members were interested in the data produced by Carenza's test pit excavations and she assured them that she has written an article ready to publish and as soon as it is ready, a copy would be available to download from ACA's website. Others wanted to know about her future plans for the outreach unit and Carenza said that she would like to hear people's suggestions for how she could help communities to sustain interest in their local heritage and find opportunities to continue collaboration with the university. The University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for relationships with the local community and public engagement, Professor Jeremy Sanders, chaired the event and finished by thanking both Carenza and Jody for their work making the research of the university relevant and accessible to members of the general public.
After the lecture, the Festival of Ideas generously hosted a reception at the Pitt Building attended by close friends and colleagues. Sandy Yatteau, former Manager of Aimhigher Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, thanked Carenza for an immensely successful and inspirational decade at the helm of ACA and presented her with a bunch of flowers. ACA's administrator, Clem Cooper, baked and decorated a cake based on the ACA logo which was cut by Carenza who spoke about the emerging importance of tea and cake at community archaeological events over the years. Many more photos of the lecture and of the reception, taken by ACA's archaeological supervisor, Catherine Ranson, can be viewed on the ACA Facebook group here.
In an e-mail after the event, a couple of the attendees got in touch to say "thank you for the invitation to Carenza's talk and the reception after - we really enjoyed ourselves. We have been so busy this month and that was definitely the best thing we've done" (LB).
Carenza would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken part or helped in any way, at any time, to the work of Access Cambridge Archaeology over the last 10 years. She would like to recognise the support of Aimhigher, the Higher Education Funding Coucil for England (HEFCE), the University of Cambridge, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Arts and Humanities Research Council, English Heritage, the BBC, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and all of the staff and volunteers who have given so generously of their time, energy, property, tea and cakes!
The job description and person specification, along with details of how to apply, are available to view on the University of Cambridge's job vacancies website here.
The incumbent administrator, Clemency Cooper, has been working at ACA since April 2010 and will be leaving at the end of November to start the role of Outreach Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme's new PASt Explorers project based at the British Museum. Clem has thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the ACA team and would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone she has worked with over the last four and a half years.