Last Saturday, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) and Managing a Masterpiece hosted an evening event to celebrate our collaboration on archaeological activities in the Stour Valley over the past two and a half years, accounting for over 1500 volunteer days on the Heritage Lottery funded project. Nearly seventy people attended the celebration, including many of the volunteers who took part in the first ACA excavation run for Managing a Masterpiece at Mount Bures in August 2011, who returned to join our subsequent activities in the area.
A member of the East of England Heritage Lottery Fund committee, Phil Rothwell, was invited to start the evening with a speech, in which he recounted memories of taking part in an archaeological excavation in North Wales. This was followed by an overview of all of the archaeological activities run by ACA as part of Managing a Masterpiece by Dr Carenza Lewis, and an informal reception to reunite all of the staff and volunteers. Finds, including the raspberry pruns pottery found during the first Clare Castle excavation, were on display as were photographs and completed reports.
The three year landscape partnership scheme has now come to a close, but keen to continue building on the interest generated in the archaeology of the Stour Valley, ACA suggested the formation of a Stour Valley Community Archaeology (SVCA) society to a number of the regular volunteers. A group met to form a committee in a meeting prior to the evening event, ready to announce their intentions to everyone present. By the end of the evening, over forty people had signed up to express an interest in the society. Laure Bonner, elected as Chairman of the newly formed SVCA, had this to say afterwards:
“It was great seeing everyone on Saturday night at the celebration for Managing A Masterpiece with Access Cambridge Archaeology. As Dr Carenza Lewis was giving her talk and going through the presentation of our archaeological triumphs, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride in looking back at our collective accomplishments from the past three years. It has been through the time and effort of so many people that we have been able to do so much, together.
With that in mind, we wanted to set up a group that could facilitate the continuation of community archaeology in the Stour Valley, hence the birth of Stour Valley Community Archaeology. Our aims are simply this: to provide opportunities for community archaeology fieldwork in the Stour Valley.”
Anyone interested in Stour Valley Community Archaeology can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The event was held at Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard, whose pupils and staff participated in the test pit excavations in Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet in June 2012. ACA would like to thank the staff who generously arranged for use of the facilities and rooms at the school. We would also like to thank Chris Burton, former project manager, and Dan King, both of Managing a Masterpiece, for their friendly, helpful and collaborative efforts on the projects we’ve run together. It has been an absolute pleasure working with the two of them, and we wish them the very best of luck with their future endeavours. Finally, we our exceptionally grateful for the funding provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund which has enabled us to find out so much about the lives of people who once lived in the Stour Valley with the people who currently reside there.