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The 2017 ACA season so far...

last modified May 22, 2017 10:09 AM
We are half way through our Independent Leaning Archaeology Field School (ILAFS) season for 2017. See where we have been digging so far this year...

ACA are half way through the 2017 Independent Learning Archaeology Field School season (ILAFS) which started back in March. Our first dig was in Brundall (Norfolk), which was out third year of digging there and 35 school students were able to excavate 9 test pits, bringing the total so far dug in the village to 41. For this year’s dig check out the ACA blog post on the excavation. The test pits were mainly sited in the east of the village and with a lot of help from the Brundall Local History Group, we have started to track the development of the village that probably began in the Bronze Age with a cluster of activity noted on the higher ground overlooking the River Yare. The results of all the Brundall digs can be found on our website here.

Our second dig of the season was also in Norfolk, this time much further west in the village of Hillington. It was also out third year of excavations in the village where 29 pupils excavated a further 8 test pits that brings the total so far dug in the settlement to 26. Check out this year’s blog post for more information. Prehistoric and Roman settlement were both identified with also the first evidence for Early Anglo Saxon occupation for the village. This village continued to develop through the Anglo Saxon period as a settlement with at least two separate focal points of occupation, a concept that continued through the medieval period as well. Our thanks go to members of the Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Archaeological Society who have helped the dig grow; the results from each year can be seen on our website here.

Our third dig in March was a new site for ACA (as well as being nice and close) was in the village of Histon, just north of Cambridge. The Histon and Impington History Society had already excavated an impressive 26 test pits in 2016 through both settlements, so with the help of 49 school pupils, an additional 13 test pits were able to be excavated in Histon, with a focus around the current church of St Andrew’s and the remains of the second church in the village, St Ethelreda’s. The results from both years’ excavations can be found on our website, but the student excavations this year have added to what has been found with additional sites yielding Romano-British pottery plus a number also expanded the previously extent of Anglo Saxon activity, including around both churches before the settlement seemed to shift further east from the late Saxon period onwards. The blog from this years excavation can be found here.  


After a break for the Easter Holidays we were back out test pitting at the end of April in the charming village of Blythburgh, close to the Suffolk coast. This was our first time excavating in the village (having dug for the previous four years in neighbouring Walberswick) and with the help of members of the Blythburgh Society and local residents we were able to dig a total of 13 test pits across the village with 47 local school students. The earliest evidence for activity was noted to be from the Middle Anglo Saxon period (8th century) that was also along the original main road through the village that continued to grow and expand through the Late Saxon and medieval periods. Initial results from the excavation also suggest that the settlement was not hit too badly by the various social and economic upheavals of the 14th century (including the Black Death). The results can be seen on our website here.

At the beginning of May, we embarked on another new site, this time in north Suffolk in the now one long settlement of Rickinghall and Botesdale. With the help of 24 local school students we excavated a total of 6 test pits in the northern half of the settlement, the sites were kindly found by members of the Quatrefoil Local History Society. The test pits yielded evidence for Late Iron Age activity on the high ground in the far north of Botesdale with then no finds dating to after the Norman Conquest. Rickinghall only was recorded in the Domesday Book on 1086, so it seems that the settlement spread north from there during the medieval period onwards. A record of the excavation can be found here, and our initial results from the first dig can be seen on our website here.

Well into the routine of digging this year, the next dig was in south Essex in the now small town of Southminster for our third year of excavations there. This year a total of 38 local school pupils excavated 10 test pits bringing the total so far excavated there to 32. For more information about this year’s dig click here. The first evidence for Iron Age activity was noted in the 2017 excavations around the edge of the King George V playing field that also yielded evidence for Roman activity. Despite the fact that Southminster was recorded in the Domesday Book, no Anglo Saxon pottery has yet been found through the test pitting, the rest of the finds date from the medieval period onwards, with a specific cluster of activity noted around the church, with evidence for a probable medieval structure noted in test pit 3, immediately south of the church. The rest of the results can be found here.

Last week we dug in another new site for ACA, at Old Clee, now a part of Grimsby in north east Lincolnshire. Despite a soaking wet first day, 29 Year 10 pupils were able to excavate 8 test pits around the 11th century church in Old Clee, an account of the excavation can be seen here. The name Clee comes from the Old English word for clay o there was some hard digging but hopefully some great results when the pottery report comes through. Results will be here when they are available here. The students had a long journey down to Cambridge, with many of them also visiting the city for the first time, seeing the Department, getting a tour and lunch at one of the colleges and learning more about what it is like to study at University.

The Cambridgeshire ILAFS for this week has been postponed until the autumn and with half term we have a couple of weeks to catch up around the office and get ready for the second half of the field school season that will start on the 7th June in Hadleigh down in Essex. Stay tuned to see what we find!