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Time Detectives

The ‘Time Detectives’ programme of archaeological excavation involved digging 10 1m² test-pits in the Cambridgeshire village of Swaffham Bulbeck in June 2012. The programme was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was intended to enable adults affected by autism engaging with local charity Red2Green to work together with schools pupils from Swaffham Bulbeck Primary School and Soham Village College to explore their local heritage. Over three days, more than 50 people took part in the excavations which provided new evidence for the development of the area now occupied by the village from the prehistoric period onwards. This appears to have been lightly used by humans in the prehistoric and Roman period until the late 9th century AD when a small settlement appears to have developed near the site of the present church.

This settlement expanded north in the 12th - 14th centuries, when a new planned extension, Newnham End, was founded. This period of growth ceased in the 14th century, when the new settlement may have been at least partly abandoned. Revival did not take hold until perhaps the 17th or 18th centuries.

By successfully involving adults affected by autism, local primary and secondary school pupils and local residents in organising and undertaking the excavations, the ‘Time Detectives’ excavations enabled participants to find out more about autism and about their local heritage, and showed how effectively archaeological excavation can bring diverse people together.

Click here to view the excavation project report.