Posted by: archaccess | May 19, 2015

Hadleigh Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2015

Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) hosted its seventh Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of the 2015 season last week in Hadleigh, Essex. A total of 9 test pits were excavated on 13th – 14th May by Year 9 pupils from Southend High School for Boys, Shoeburyness High School, Cecil Jones Academy and Westcliff High School for Boys.

Test Pit 1

Test Pit 1

Two test pits were also dug by members of the Archaeology Geophysics Enthusiastic Searchers Archaeological and Historical Association (AGES AHA).

Members of AGES AHA carry out their excavation at the URC

Members of AGES AHA carry out their excavation at the URC

Lynda with the AGES AHA display

Lynda with the AGES AHA display

The test pits were organised by Terry Barclay and Lynda Manning of AGES AHA and our beacon school coordinator was Mr Gareth March from SHSB. The base for the two digging days was the Hadleigh United Reform Church. The 11 x 1m2 test pits were located on St John’s Road, Falbro Crescent, Elm Road, Beech Road, Castle Lane, Oak Road South, Church Road, Rectory Road and London Road.

Hadleigh, a Saxon word meaning ‘a clearing in the heath,’ is a small town in Essex, 5 miles west of the seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea and 35 miles east of London. It is well-known for the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, a 13th-century Grade I listed building and scheduled monument maintained by English Heritage. This is the first year ACA have hosted a HEFA in Hadleigh. In previous years, the South Essex HEFA was held in nearby Daws Heath, the reports from which can be accessed here.

Sieving in the sun at Test Pit 2

Sieving in the sun at Test Pit 2

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 3 or 4 and were supervised by teachers from the 4 participating schools. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 from 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.

The weather, a major player in any English archaeological excavation, was well-behaved for the first day of digging, but Thursday, 14th May brought heavy, all-day downpours. Our teams, however, endured the deluge and persevered with digging and sieving, returning to base only slightly muddy!

Test Pit 5 didn't let the rain spoil their day!

Test Pit 5 didn’t let the rain spoil their day!

We were pleased that the Essex Echo not only promoted the event in advance (here), but also sent out a photographer to cover the event. Once that article has been published online it will be available here.

Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, and Paul Blinkhorn, post-Roman pottery expert, toured the test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds and pottery sherds. This expertise proves to be invaluable to the participants and is always reflected as such in their feedback. Students commented, “I enjoyed knowing what period of time my finds came from and what part of history they came from” (DA) and “I liked discovering finds, especially when the specialists would date and discuss them.” (CF)

Paul and Carenza have a look through the finds

Paul and Carenza have a look through the finds

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.

Some Roman pottery sherds were found in two of the test pits and would initially indicate some sort of Roman occupation on the high ground looking over the River Thames. If the town of Hadleigh has Saxon origins it is not represented in the pottery findings from this year’s HEFA. Only a limited number of sherds of high medieval pottery are represented and as such the ways in which the town of Hadleigh developed throughout the Middle Ages remain to be discovered. It is hoped that future test pits will shed some light on this issue. The complete pottery report can be accessed here.

Victorian tin toy whistle

Victorian tin toy whistle

But, the Hadleigh test pits did provide some treasures. TP 8 on Oak Road South produced a sweet Victorian toy tin whistle and TP 10, dug by AGES AHA members, in front of the United Reform Church came down onto three farthings dating from the earlier half of the 20th century. It is possible that these were lost in a single occurrence; one can easily imagine a ‘hole-in-the-pocket’ incident.

"Three Coins in a Test Pit" - farthings from TP 10

“Three Coins in a Test Pit” – farthings from TP 10

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 helps highlight how HEFA participants contribute to university research, an aspect of the programme that always ranks highly in student and teacher feedback.

The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Trinity Hall, Downing and St John’s Colleges. These tours were given by either the admissions officer or schools liaison office (SLO) from each of the colleges. Lizzie Dobson, SLO for Emmanuel College, then gave a presentation to the entire group about the University of Cambridge, post-16 options, A-Level choices and choosing degree subjects.

Downing College

Downing College

One of the aims of ACA’s HEFA programme is to raise students’ aspirations of going on to higher education after school. Learning more about university in general and visiting the University of Cambridge specifically contribute to raising these aspirations and always receive good feedback from both students and staff: “I had great fun and it really opened up my eyes to other education options” (JW) and “I enjoyed learning how to get into university and also knowing that Cambridge offers my choice.” (JT)

Day 3 concluded with Dr Trish Biers, visiting scholar at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, giving a presentation on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation. Students who submit a report receive detailed feedback and a certificate from the University of Cambridge. This feedback can then be used in future university applications, CVs etc. and their reports form part of the permanent archive.

In feedback after the event, 95% of participants rated the field academy as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. Students commented, “I thought that it was really good fun and a very constructive experience,” (JF) “I enjoyed collaborating with other schools and integrating with other students” (AN) and “It was a lot of fun and I would do it again!” (CC).

Test Pit 2 working together as a team

Test Pit 2 working together as a team

Staff also commented, “The students enjoyed being part of a much larger research project and they have gained independent research skills, teamwork and archaeological knowledge.” (SN) and “The students have certainly gained a taste of university life, with a couple even expressing an interest in studying archaeology.” (DB)

ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the four schools involved for making the Hadleigh HEFA a successful event despite the horrible weather. Special thanks to Terry and Lynda of AGES AHA, Gareth March of SHSB and Hadleigh URC.

Test Pit 8 get stuck in

Test Pit 8 get stuck in

Posted by: archaccess | May 12, 2015

Walberswick Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2015

Walberswick, Suffolk was the setting for ACA’s sixth Higher Education Field Academy of the 2015 season. A total of 12 test-pits were excavated on 6th – 7th May by 48 Year 8 & 9 students from Alde Valley Academy, Bungay High School, Ormiston Denes Academy and Sir John Leman High School. The test-pits were organised by Philip Kett of the Walberswick Local History Group and our beacon school coordinator was Mrs Philippa Godwin from Alde Valley Academy. The base for the two digging days was The Stables & Barn, The Street in Walberswick. 11 x 1m2 test pits were located in the back gardens of private properties on Lodge Road, The Street, Church Lane, Acre Lane, Palmers Lane, The Green and Bell Green and one was located in the grounds of The Anchor Hotel.

St Andrew's Church looms in the background

St Andrew’s Church looms in the background

Walberswick is a village on the Suffolk coast, across the River Blyth from Southwold. This is the third consecutive year a HEFA has been held here and previous reports can be found here.

Phil Kett and Dr Carenza Lewis

Phil Kett and Dr Carenza Lewis

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 and were supervised by teachers from the 4 participating schools. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 from Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA, about how to excavated and record the test pits, the students went out on site and excavated for 2 days. The weather on Wednesday, 6th May, was particularly windy, rainy and miserable, but this did not dissuade our hardened diggers as by the end of Thursday most test-pits had reached the ‘natural’.

TP3's improvised rain shelter

TP3’s improvised rain shelter

We were pleased that the East Anglian Daily Times sent out a photographer to cover the event and that article can be found here. We were also pleased that Lara Band and Oliver Hutchinson from CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network) in association with MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) came out to see us and talk to the students and teachers about ways they can get involved further with community-based archaeology around the coast. More about the CITiZAN project can be found here.

John Newman provides TP5 with dates for their pottery

John Newman provides TP5 with dates for their pottery

Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, Jessica Rippengal, zooarchaeologist, and John Newman, pottery expert, toured the test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds, bones and pottery sherds. Once again, having experts on site to identify finds in real time proved to be one of the things most enjoyed by the participants. Students commented, “I enjoyed meeting experts of different parts of archaeology,” (CC) “I liked finding out about the pottery” (JA) and “I really enjoyed it when the experts came round and told us what we had found.” (SM) Even staff said, “Our students enjoyed talking to people who were experts in their field.” (CK)

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.

TP10 - a hive of activity on The Green

TP10 – a hive of activity on The Green

The evidence from the previous 18 test pits which were dug in 2013 and 2014 suggests that Waberswick did not decline in the late medieval period suggesting it was not as severely impacted by the Black Death as other East Anglian villages, many of which have a 50% drop in pottery usage after the 14th century compared to before. In 2015, new areas of the village were investigated including the western side of The Street, the central area of Palmer’s Lane and Lodge Road.

Bellarmine sherd from TP4

Bellarmine sherd from TP4

Findings from the test pits this year continue to support the lack of decline in the late medieval period. Medieval pottery was found in many of the test pits dispersed throughout the village, with TP10 on The Green producing the most sherds. Earlier evidence is minimal with only two potential sherds of Roman and/or Late Saxon being produced from one pit. Post-medieval and Georgian/Victorian pottery was also well-represented throughout the village. TP4 on The Street produced a sherd from a Bellarmine Jug, TP11 on The Green came down on a Victorian rubbish pit and TP2 on The Street had a lovely find in the shape of a Victorian bisque dolly. The finalised pottery report is available here.

“Hello Dolly”

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. Some of the comments were, “I loved listening to the lectures and finding objects that were new to me,” (TT) “I enjoyed learning about what we were doing for the university” (TS) and “I will enjoy writing up the report to a high standard including all our finds, how professionals do.” (LE)

Touring around Corpus Christi

Touring around Corpus Christi

The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Trinity Hall, St John’s and Corpus Christi Colleges. These tours were given by either the admissions officer or schools liaison officer (SLO) from each of the colleges. Megan Goldman-Roberts, SLO for St John’s, then gave a presentation to the entire group about the University of Cambridge, post-16 options, A-Level choices and choosing degree subjects. Many students commented how they really enjoyed touring around the university and learning more about what university life is like, but one student in particular nicely summed up one of the specific aims of the HEFA programme in her feedback: “Before I came to the university, I was adamant that I was never going to go to university, but it isn’t quite what I expected it to be like and I might change my mind in the future.” (AMN)

The day concluded with Dr Jenni French, Research Fellow in 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 event, 94% of participants rated the field academy as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. The students enjoyed all of the aspects of the HEFA: working with new people, digging and finding things, contributing to academic research and learning more about their local history and the University of Cambridge. Students commented, “I’ve met new people, I’ve learnt new skills from doing the dig and I know what university is like” (CB) and “I enjoyed getting to work independently. Our group was in control of how we worked – more freedom than at school. I really enjoyed working with and meeting people from other schools.” (HS) School staff commented “Our students have found the experience rewarding, especially in terms of learning new skills that result in practical benefit for research purposes” (CK) and “The students have gained an ability to work together as a team and learned how to remain focused until the task is finished.” (DA)

TP12 had an extra, rather fluffy, supervisor

TP12 had an extra, rather fluffy, supervisor

ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the four schools involved for making this year’s Walberswick HEFA such a successful event, despite Wednesday’s downpour. Special thanks to Philip Kett, local coordinator, and Philippa Godwin, our beacon school coordinator. Also thank you to The Anchor Hotel, the local community and the owners of The Stables for hosting us.

Posted by: archaccess | May 5, 2015

Southminster Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2015

ACA’s fifth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) took place last week, 29th – 30th April , in Southminster, Essex. The 42 Year 9 pupils from Ormiston Rivers Academy, William de Ferrers School and The Plume School excavated 11 test-pits throughout the small town. An additional test-pit held in the grounds of Southminster Church of England Primary School was excavated by several of its pupils. The test-pits were organised by David Stamp of William de Ferrers School with Ron Pratt, mayor of nearby Burnham-on-Crouch, and Kay Maudesley, parish councillor. The base for the two digging days was the community hall on the King George V Playing Fields.

St Leonard's Church, Southminster

St Leonard’s Church, Southminster

The 11 x 1m2 test pits were located in the back gardens of private properties on Hall Road, North Street, High Street, King’s Road and Burnham Road. There were also two test-pits located at the Southminster Residential Home on Station Road and two on the King George V Playing Fields.

TP 3 at the Southminster Residential Home on Station Road

TP 3 at the Southminster Residential Home on Station Road

Southminster is a small town located between the River Blackwater and the River Crouch on the Dengie peninsula in Essex. This is the first year a HEFA has been located in Southminster. Previously, the Central Essex HEFA was held in Writtle and those reports can be found here

Mayor Ron Pratt visits TP 6

Mayor Ron Pratt visits TP 6

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 from 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. Even through the wind and rain on the Wednesday the teams persevered, with some pits making it all the way down to ‘natural’.

Carenza's Day 1 Briefing

Carenza’s Day 1 Briefing

We were pleased that two local publications, The Maldon and Burnham Standard and the Burnham Review, sent out photographers to cover the event. Once those articles have appeared online they will be linked here. We were also fortunate enough to have Maria Medlycott, Historic Environment Officer for Essex County Council, come out on Thursday for a tour of the test pits.

Mike and Pat of the Maldon Archaeological and History Group supervise Test Pit 12 at Southminster Primary School

Mike and Pat of the Maldon Archaeological and History Group supervise Test Pit 12 at Southminster Primary School

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. Having experts on site is always popular with the participants who commented, “I enjoyed talking with the experts on pottery etc. to try and put together the story of the site.” (AC) and “I enjoyed learning about the history of the area and talking to historians and people who could give me more information about the history of Britain.” (CS)

Mr Stamp offers his advice to TP 7

Mr Stamp offers his advice to TP 7

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.

TP 1 at Southminster Hall

TP 1 at Southminster Hall

As this is the first year a HEFA has been held in Southminster, the initial findings suggest a cluster of medieval pottery around St Leonard’s church which is still central to the modern town. One piece of possible prehistoric pottery (Iron Age) was found on this HEFA in TP 6 on King’s Road, located on higher ground overlooking the marshes to the east. Other prehistoric settlements are known in Southminster, so this could possibly relate to that. Some possible Roman pottery was found in the grounds of the residential home on Station Road, but the final pottery report will confirm these initial conclusions. Once the finalised pottery report has been received it will be linked here.

Iron Age pottery sherd from TP 6

Iron Age pottery sherd from TP 6

Another find of note is the Victorian ash pit that the team on TP 4 on North Street came upon which produced masses of ceramic and butchered bone.

A selection of butchered cow bones from the Victorian ash pit at TP 4

A selection of butchered cow bones from the Victorian ash pit at TP 4

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. Some of the comments were, “I enjoyed the lectures and the help given on the report writing” (AM) and “I enjoyed the lectures as I feel they gave you a small insight of life at university” (PP).

The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Downing, Emmanuel and Pembroke Colleges. These tours were given by the schools liaison officers (SLO) from each of these colleges. Emma Paulus, SLO for Pembroke, then gave a presentation to the pupils about the University of Cambridge and life as a university student.

Post-lunch smiles at Pembroke College

Post-lunch smiles at Pembroke College

The day concluded with Dr Jenni French, Research Fellow in 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 98% of participants rated the field academy as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. The students enjoyed meeting and working with new people and working in a team as well as visiting the University of Cambridge and learning more about university and archaeology. Students commented, “I have gained both confidence and the realisation of how important archaeology is” (MP), “I have enjoyed interacting with people with similar interests and I have gained confidence with new people” (MB) and “I feel I have gained a sense of independence (as we worked with other students) and also I have gained the knowledge on writing a good written report (which is needed). I have also gained more knowledge on the history of the area” (CS). School staff commented, “Our students have gained personal skills, teamwork, confidence and archaeological and historical knowledge” (DS) and “They have gained an insight into archaeology, an idea of what higher level academic work is like and an opening of doors to university applications” (PM).

The HEFA team: (L-R) John Newman, Cat Ranson, Dr Carenza Lewis, Laure Bonner

The HEFA team: (L-R) John Newman, Cat Ranson, Dr Carenza Lewis, Laure Bonner

ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the three schools involved for making the Southminster HEFA another successful event (even in the rain!). Special thanks to David Stamp for being both beacon school coordinator and local coordinator, to Ron Pratt and Kay Maudesley for organising the pits and to Mike Rees and Pat Sheehy of the Maldon Archaeological and Historical Group for supervising our young learners at Southminster Primary School.

20th century token from TP 10 on the King George V Playing Fields

20th century token from TP 10 on the King George V Playing Fields

Posted by: archaccess | April 28, 2015

Rampton 2015 Higher Education Field Academy

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.

“We’re all in this together” on Test Pit 2

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.

Cambridge News article

Cambridge News article

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.

L-R Dr Jenni French, John Stanford, Alison Wedgbury and John Newman

L-R Dr Jenni French, John Stanford, Alison Wedgbury and John Newman

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.

TP 5 hard at work

TP 5 hard at work

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.

Spot the burnt bone!

Spot the 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.

Dr Nick James visits with TP 3

Dr Nick James visits with TP 3

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).

In the Plant Sciences lecture theatre on Day 3

In the Plant Sciences lecture theatre on Day 3

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.

Emmanuel College

Emmanuel College

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).

Archaeology doesn't always have to be serious, as TP 8 demonstrate

Archaeology doesn’t always have to be serious, as TP 8 demonstrate

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.

Posted by: archaccess | April 21, 2015

Brundall 2015 Higher Education Field Academy

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.P1020806

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.

Test Pit 2 -By the lake

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

TP 3 - The greenhouse floor emerges

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

Paul Blinkhorn checks out TP 6The 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!

Stamped Early Saxon pottery

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)

newnham

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.

We can always use extra paws during finds washing

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.

Posted by: archaccess | April 9, 2015

Southwold and Reydon Report Online

The written report for the 2014 community test pitting in Southwold and Reydon is now available to download on our webiste here . SAR 2014 Cover

More than 50 people from the local area took part in the test pit digging that was funded by Touching the Tide in the autumn of 2014, the results of which have provided evidence for settlement in the area from the prehistoric period onwards. The test pitting results not only contribute to the history of the development of both towns, but also add to the wider data collated by ACA as part of the test pitting when looking at settlement trends as a whole across East Anglia. Further reports on the studies of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements can be found here.

Posted by: archaccess | March 31, 2015

North Warnborough 2015 Higher Education Field Academy

Test Pit 2

Test Pit 2

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 here.

Test Pit 1

     Test Pit 1

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.

Test Pit 9 &10

Test Pits 9 & 10 on the recreation ground

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.

Test Pit 3

     Test Pit 3

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.

Chalk layer at Test Pit 8

     Chalk layer at Test Pit 8

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.

Test Pit 9 finds

     Test Pit 9 finds

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)

Christ's College

     Christ’s College

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.

University life presentation

     University life presentation

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)

Extra helper at Test Pit 7

     Extra helper at Test Pit 7

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.

Posted by: archaccess | March 24, 2015

Hillington 2015 Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA)

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.

Test Pit 8 with Up Hall in the background

Test Pit 8 with Up Hall in the background

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.

Thetford ware rim sherd from test pit 2

Thetford ware rim sherd from test pit 2

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.

Carenza, Andrew and Clive examine the finds from Day 1

Carenza, Andrew and Clive examine the finds from Day 1

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.

Iron Age pottery sherd

Iron Age pottery sherd

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.

Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall

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.

Carenza presents her lecture on medieval settlements

Carenza presents her lecture on medieval settlements

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)

Test pit 1 near St Mary's Church

Test pit 1 near St Mary’s Church

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!

Posted by: archaccess | March 2, 2015

Year 12 Archaeology Study Day at St John’s College

On 23rd March 2015, St John’s College in Cambridge is offering Year 12 students the opportunity to learn about the study of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge through a diverse and stimulating range of sample lectures and seminars with current students and academics.
 St johns

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 accessofficer@joh.cam.ac.uk.

FEAG talk: Tuesday 10 March, 7.30 pm, at the Tony Cooper Suite,
Cottenham Village College
‘Portals to the Past: Recent finds on the Crossrail archaeology
programme’ by Jay Carver

Jay Carver, Project Archaeologist for Crossrail, will be giving a talk
on ‘Portals to the Past: Recent finds on the Crossrail archaeology
programme’. Jay will explain how the construction of Crossrail through
the heart of London is resulting in one of the most extensive
archaeological programmes ever undertaken in the UK. The project spans
118 kilometres with more than 30 construction sites and has had more
than 100 archaeologists involved in the work so far. Finds range from
long extinct Ice Age animals to medieval plague burial grounds and more
recent Industrial Archaeology of London’s Victorian era.
All welcome.
See also  www.feag.co.uk

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