Posted by: archaccess | June 26, 2015

Great Amwell Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2015

Twelve archaeological test pits were dug in Great Amwell by Hertforshire school students in last week’s Higher Education Field Academy. The field academy, held 17th – 19th June, involved 47 Year 9s from Presdales School, John Warner School, Samuel Ryder Academy and Sheredes School. This is the third year ACA have held a HEFA in Great Amwell; previous findings and reports can be found here.

Test Pit 4

Test Pit 4 start the day with de-turfing

The test pit sites were organised by David Hardy and William Brown of the Amwell Society and the beacon school coordinator was Esther Willett from Presdales School. Our base in the village for the two digging days was St John the Baptist Church on St John’s Lane. The students worked in mixed-school groups of 3 or 4 and were supervised by teachers and sixth form students. The test pits this year were spread throughout the village and were located on Walnut Tree Walk, Church Path, Madgeways Close, Lower Road, Cautherly Lane and Hillside Lane.

The HEFA team: Cat, Laure, Paul & Carenza with local coordinator David

The HEFA team: Cat, Laure, Paul & Carenza with local coordinator, David

The aim of every HEFA is for the students to find out more about higher education by working alongside experts to contribute to ongoing university research; to develop and deploy skills for life, learning and employment such as data analysis, communication skills and team working; as well as completing an archaeological test-pit excavation to tell us more about the development of a Currently Occupied Rural Settlement. The HEFA participants have two days to complete their excavation and then analyse their findings on a third day’s visit to the University of Cambridge.

Recording and completing paperwork at TP 11 (with beanbags!)

Recording and completing paperwork at TP 11 (with beanbags!)

So, 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 and started digging! The students recorded all of their findings context-by-context in their individual Test Pit Excavation Record Booklet. We stress that the recording process is just as important, if not more so, than the physical digging aspect. This record booklet and their recordings and findings form part of the permanent archive kept at the University of Cambridge. It is also crucial in helping the participants produce a written report about their individual test pit.

Paul visits TP 8 and identifies their pottery

Paul visits TP 8 and identifies their pottery

Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, Paul Blinkhorn, pottery expert and Jessica Rippengal, zooarchaeologist, toured the test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds, faunal remains and pottery sherds. We were also joined by Allison Whitlock, a PhD student from New York University, who is researching medieval settlements.

Jessica Rippengal demonstrates how to use a spade.

Jessica Rippengal demonstrates how to use a spade.

The real-time, expert knowledge provided by professional archaeologists always ranks highly on the feedback from participants: “I enjoyed learning where all the pieces originated from and their uses.” (MJ) and “I enjoyed discovering and learning about the past and a variety of time periods.” (CC) The finalised pottery report from 2015 can be read here.

Prehistoric burnt stone from TP3

Prehistoric burnt stone from TP3

The 2015 test pits found further evidence of Iron Age activity, although this year the activity is coming from further west at test pit 4 on Madgeways Close. Based on a few of the flint finds, it appears as though there might have been a prehistoric settlement on the higher ground in the village overlooking the River Lee. The Roman occupation of Great Amwell also appears to carry on in the similar area to the prehistoric with Roman pottery sherds found in two new areas for 2015 – Test Pits 2 & 5.

The evidence of the Late Saxon village is still limited as throughout three HEFAs (a total of 35 test pits) only one sherd of this type of pottery has been found. However, the test pitting has shown that the village was certainly well established into the medieval period although it is still likely to have remained a small village with expansion into the post-medieval.
The third day of the HEFA was held in Cambridge. Students attend a lecture presented by Carenza which is all about medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project. Each HEFA test pit provides vital information used in this research – a small piece of a very big puzzle.

Pembroke College

Pembroke College

The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Sidney Sussex, Pembroke and Emmanuel Colleges. After lunch, Emma Paulus, Schools Liaison Officer for Pembroke College, gave a presentation about life at university, The University of Cambridge and future changes. One participant commented, “I really enjoyed that we got to see actual university timetables and that presentation really helped me learn more about university life.” (AC) This was followed by a presentation on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation by Dr Trish Biers, one of our report markers.

TP1 measure out their 1m square

TP1 measure out their 1m square

In feedback after the HEFA 96% of participants rated the experience as “Excellent” or “Good”. Students commented, “I loved finding our own discoveries and knowing that we did it independently and that our work was valuable.” (LR) “I really enjoyed being at the university and even if I don’t do archaeology in the future, I want to go to Cambridge.” (SL) and “I have gained knowledge that could help me successfully apply for A-levels and uni.” (MB) Staff comments included, “Being involved in valuable research made us feel proud to be part of it, very rewarding.” (NT) and “Exceptional experience! Extremely organised and professional. No-nonsense approach and high expectations – at the same time caring and flexible.” (PB)

Hard work at TP12

Hard work at TP12

ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the four schools involved. Special thanks to David and William for organising the pits, Esther Willett for organising the schools and all the volunteers who helped make this another successful field academy.

Posted by: archaccess | June 16, 2015

Brundall 2015 Higher Education Field Academy (2)

ACA returned to Brundall, Norfolk last week for its tenth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of 2015. A further 9 test pits were dug in the village on 10th-11th June by students from Sewell Park, City of Norwich School, Framingham Earl and Notre Dame through the OpenOpportunity partnership. Students of Brundall Primary School along with local volunteer Jim Packer also excavated their own test pit in the grounds of the school.

Test Pit 19

Test Pit 19

All of the test pits were organised by Jacky Heath and Ann-Marie Simpson of the Brundall Local History Group. Jim Hudson and Janette Darbon of OpenOpportunity were the beacon school coordinators and St Laurence Church once again served as the base for the two days of excavation. This time the test pits were concentrated on the eastern side of the village. They were located on The Street, Links Avenue, Braydeston Avenue, Station Road and Mallard Close. The blog from the April 2015 test pits can be accessed here.

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 or 5 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.

Brundall Primary SchoolThe weather an uncontrollable, but very important factor on any archaeological site, remained quite nice for the duration of the dig. We were really pleased with all the hard work and effort exhibited by all of the participants, even those who were digging through rather difficult layers.

Wall Feature in Test Pit 13

Wall Feature in Test Pit 13

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.

Paperwork time!

Paperwork time!

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. The knowledge of the experts is really appreciated and the participant feedback consistently reflects this. “I enjoyed finding out more about some of the things we discovered,” (BG) and “I enjoyed finding logical explanations about our finds and identifying artefacts.” (AH) The finalised pottery report can be read here.

John visits TP 17 to identify finds

John visits TP 17 to identify finds

Confirming our initial thoughts from earlier this year, the only two test pits to produce any medieval pottery were on the The Street, further suggesting a concentrated spread from the west of the village towards the east along that line. Prehistoric activity was once again observed with a single sherd of Late Bronze Age pottery from TP 20 as well as a few test pits producing burnt flints.

TP 14 came down onto a late 19th/early 20th century rubbish pit which included lead figurines, a die, two coins and one Victorian arcade token. TP 13 turned up a modern wall which made deeper excavation more difficult, but they did their best and mattocked around it!

Finds from TP14

Finds from TP14

Late Victorian arcade token

Late Victorian arcade token

On the third day of the HEFA, the students arrived 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 “gaining more insight into archaeology, history and how university research is conducted.” (DM)

The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Trinity Hall and Emmanuel Colleges. After lunch, Ed Penn, Schools Liaison Officer (and Norfolk native!) for Jesus College, gave a presentation about life at university, The University of Cambridge and future choices. This was followed by a presentation on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation by Dr Trish Biers.

Trinity College

Trinity College

In feedback after the HEFA, 89% of participants rated it as “Excellent” or “Good”. Comments included, “I enjoyed seeing what Cambridge University has to offer.” (LM) and “I think it was a good experience and would do it again.” Feedback from staff included, “My students enjoyed the care and consideration shown by HEFA staff. Thank you for a tremendously positive and exciting adventure.” (PL) and “They have gained transferable skills in the form of leadership and being able to adapt oneself to new things with new people.” (MH).

Ann-Marie and Jacky look at the finds

Ann-Marie and Jacky look at the finds

ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the four schools involved. Special thanks to Jim and Janette of OpenOpportunity, Jacky and Ann-Marie of the Brundall Local History Group and all the volunteers who helped make this another successful field academy.

Posted by: archaccess | June 9, 2015

Blo’ Norton Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2015

Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) held its ninth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of the 2015 season last week in Blo’ Norton, Norfolk. The test pits were excavated 3rd-4th June by 29 Year 9 pupils from King Edward VI School and Hartismere School.

St Andrew's Church

St Andrew’s Church

Blo’ Norton is a small village in Norfolk on the River Little Ouse, not far from Diss. Its unusual name derives from the Saxon word ‘Blae’ meaning bleak, cold and blue and ‘Norton’ meaning on the north side of the river.

The 8 x 1m2 were distributed throughout the village and were located on: The Street, Middle Road, Thelnetham Road and Church Lane. The test pits were organised by John Dixon of the Blo’ Norton Local History Group and our beacon school coordinator was Mrs Claire Stothard from King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds. Our base for the two days in Blo’ Norton was the Village Hall on Middle Road.

This is the first year ACA have hosted a HEFA in Blo’ Norton. The previous South Norfolk HEFAs were held in nearby Garboldisham and those reports can be found here.

TP 6 work together

TP 6 work together

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 and were supervised by teachers from the participating schools and ACA 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.

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, bones and pottery sherds. Having experts on site to identify finds always proves to be one of the things most enjoyed by the participants. Students commented, “I now have knowledge of historical artefacts and an understanding of the archaeological process.” (EJ)

Cat Ranson demonstrates her mattocking technique

Cat Ranson demonstrates her mattocking technique

We enjoyed some of the nicest weather of 2015 so far with temperatures well exceeding 20 degrees and our keen diggers had to stay well hydrated out in the June sun. The students were incredibly keen to see what they could reveal about Blo’ Norton’s hidden past. As stated before, this is the first year a HEFA has been held here, but the 8 test pits did provide initial hints at the village’s development.

Sieving at TP 7

Sieving at TP 7

Based on the pottery report available here, 5 of the 8 pits produced pottery sherds dating to the mid 11th – 15th century AD, mainly concentrated on Church Lane and The Street. The pottery distribution map is available here. Further test pits at this site in the future will help improve the overall picture of the village’s development.

Glass bottles and ceramics from TP 8

Glass bottles and ceramics from TP 8

Finds of note include Test Pit 8 who came down on the edge of a Victorian/Edwardian rubbish pit which produced glass bottles and blue and white ceramics. Test Pit 3 discovered possible remnants of an old wooden barn (possibly part of the barn destroyed in the ‘Great Storm of 1987’) at Church Farm Barn on The Street.

Possible barn remnants at TP 3

Possible barn at TP 3

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.

Various pottery finds from TP 5

Various pottery finds from TP 5

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 Magdalene, Trinity and Corpus Christi Colleges. These tours were given by either a representative or schools liaison officer (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.

Lizzie from Emmanuel College discusses university life on Day 3

Lizzie from Emmanuel College discusses university life on Day 3

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. One student commented, “I want to go to Cambridge University as this unique experience has opened up so many opportunities.” (JR)

Day 3 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. 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 93% of participants rated the field academy as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. Students commented, “I liked working with people from other schools and I have gained more knowledge about archaeology and the importance of excavations like this.” (LP), “I feel that I have gained valuable skills including the ability to work in a team and the ability to professionally record the results of a practical activity.” (JW) and “I enjoyed that it was a challenge; very different to what I do at school and nice to do something different – being outside rather than in the classroom.” (ED)

Staff also commented, “The talks from the SLO and on the report writing process were spot on” (RM) and “Our students have gained confidence, the ability to work in teams with new people and the college tour is very useful to them.” (CS)

Hartismere pupils with Cat and Laure outside the McDonald Institute in Cambridge

Hartismere pupils with Cat and Laure outside the McDonald Institute in Cambridge

ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the 2 schools involved for making the Blo’ Norton HEFA a successful event. Special thanks to Dave and Sheila Williams, seasoned ACA volunteers, for helping supervise, John Dixon and Claire Stothard for their help and support in organising the HEFA.

Posted by: archaccess | May 26, 2015

Sawtry Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2015

Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) held its eighth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of the 2015 season last week in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire. The test pits were excavated on 20th – 21st May by 48 Year 9 and 10 pupils from Swavesey Village College, Cromwell Community College, Stanground Academy and Sawtry Village Academy.

Working together on test pit 3

Working together on test pit 3

Sawtry is a village situated just west of the Fens, halfway between Peterborough and Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. Although one large commuter village today, Sawtry was originally three separate estates and grew as a centre for salt production during the medieval period. One of the three manors was named after and owned by Judith de Lens, a niece of William the Conquerer and one of her descendants founded an abbey in Sawtry in the 12th century.

The 12 x 1m2 pits were widely distributed throughout the village and were located on: Green End Road, Tort Hill, Rectory Close, Fen Lane, Middlefield Road, Westfield Road, Ermine Way and Gloucester Road. The test pits were organised by Philip Hill of the Sawtry History Society and our beacon school coordinator was Mr Tim Pearson from Cromwell Community College. Our base for the two days in Sawtry was the Youth and Community Centre.

Test Pit 7

Test Pit 7

This is the second year ACA have hosted a HEFA in Sawtry; last year’s reports can be accessed here.

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 and were supervised by teachers from the 4 participating schools, ACA volunteers and members of the Sawtry History Society. 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.

We were pleased that the Hunts Post sent out a photographer to cover the event and once that article has been published online it will be available here. We were also delighted to have a visit on Day 2 from Dr Tom Almeroth-Williams, Communications Officer for Education and Access at the University of Cambridge’s Office of External Affairs. Dr Almeroth-Williams has recently promoted the 2016 nationwide HEFA programme in the University’s HE Adviser newsletter here.

Carenza demonstrates the mattock

Carenza demonstrates the mattock

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.

We were lucky with the weather and the rain stayed away for the majority of the HEFA. The students really got stuck in and revealed further information about Sawtry’s past. Based on the pottery report, available here, there seems to be a concentration of early medieval pottery, including Stamford and St Neots Ware, in the northern half of the village.  By looking at the combined pottery finds from both 2014 and 2015 on the Test Pit Pottery Distribution Map an apparent drop begins to emerge in the finds from the late 14th to early 15th century, perhaps indicative of a major decline during the immediate post-Black Death period.

Paul talks to the team on test pit 8

Paul talks to the team on test pit 8

Test pit 10 found an interesting find in the form of a slate domino, a first for a HEFA test pit. Probably dating from the 18th-19th century, the slate portion of the domino would have originally been attached to a wooden or bone plinth as its base.

Slate domino from test pit 10

Slate domino from test pit 10

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.

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 Magdalene, Trinity and St John’s Colleges. These tours were given by either a representative or schools liaison office (SLO) from each of the colleges. Ed Penn, SLO for Jesus College, then gave a presentation to the entire group about the University of Cambridge, post-16 options, A-Level choices and choosing degree subjects.

Touring around Magdalene College

Touring around Magdalene 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. One Stanground pupil commented in her feedback, “I enjoyed the tour of Cambridge University the most because it has inspired me to come to university.”

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 84% of participants rated the field academy as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. Students commented, “I have gained a new experience which I can take back to help my GCSE history and I know now about university life” and “I’ve gained skills I can use in the rest of my life.”

Staff also commented, “A fantastic experience. I’m really keen to stay involved” and “Good lectures about why students should go to university have given them motivation.”

Sieving through the clay on test pit 9

Sieving through the clay on test pit 9

ACA would like to thank the students and staff of the four schools involved for making the Sawtry HEFA a successful event. Special thanks to Philip Hill and the Sawtry History Society and Tim Pearson from Cromwell Community College for their help and support in organising the HEFA.

Posted by: archaccess | May 26, 2015

Goldingham Hall Excavation continues 28-31 May 2015

Originally posted on Stour Valley Community Archaeology:

Stour Valley Community Archaeology will be participating in another excavation at Goldingham Hall, Bulmer, taking place on Thursday to Sunday 28 – 31 May 2015. The aim of this dig is to find out new information regarding the size, shape, age and use of the structure near Trenches C and D where we have post-hole features and high-status, imported pottery and also to further examine features in both ends of Trench E. There is also some further work to be accomplished on the “subterranean” oven in Trench A.

The funding for this excavation is being provided by a £3000 grant we’ve received from Braintree District Council. Many thanks go to Corinne Cox in her hard work for securing this funding. We will once again be supported by Access Cambridge Archaeology on the three digging days, Thursday to Saturday. Cat Ranson and John Newman will be the archaeological supervisors and Aldous…

View original 139 more words

Posted by: archaccess | May 22, 2015

Temporary Archaeological Internship with ACA

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.

http://www.access.arch.cam.ac.uk/intern-ad

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.

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