Nearly fifty people attended ACA’s eighth annual ‘thank you’ event in Cambridge for the local coordinators of the Higher Education Field Academies (HEFA), a widening participation programme for secondary school students.
Since HEFA was launched in 2005, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) has supervised the excavation of archaeological test pits dug by school students, and by volunteers as part of community-organised events, in fifty-three parishes in the East of England and as far afield as Kent, Derbyshire and, as of 2013, Hampshire. The total number of 1m² test pits dug by the end of 2013 was an incredible 1573 – equivalent to the area of two football pitches!
This momentous achievement would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of the residents who help to oversee the organisation of the excavations locally, by recruiting sites to test pits and managing logistical arrangements. Their help not only contributes to ACA’s research in Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS) at the University of Cambridge, but also gives the young people participating in field academies a unique opportunity to contribute towards the archaeological record, learn about the history of their local area and develop vital personal, thinking and learning skills for their futures.
ACA invites past and present HEFA coordinators to Cambridge each January as a ‘thank you’ for their help. Our event for the 2013 field season took place at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research last Saturday, 25th January 2014. Representatives from 21 sites attended, as well as ACA’s extended team of regular volunteers and finds specialists. The day began with refreshments in the newly refurbished McDonald Institute, and moved to to the large lecture theatre in the Department of Plant Sciences for the presentations.
Dr Lewis began by showing photographs from each of the Higher Education Field Academies (HEFAs) and analysing the development of each host settlement over time by plotting the distribution of pottery of different dates found in the test-pits. In 2013, 521 students from 49 schools took part in fourteen HEFAs in the counties of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in 2013. These included return visits to Writtle (Essex), Acle (Norfolk), Swaffham Bulbeck (Cambridgeshire), Gaywood (Norfolk), Long Melford (Suffolk), Garboldisham (Norfolk), Binham (Norfolk), Manuden (Essex) and Willingham (Cambridgeshire). New sites included Stapleford (Cambridgeshire), Walberswick (Suffolk), North Warnborough (Hampshire), Daws Heath (Essex) and Great Amwell (Hertfordshire).
Following a buffet lunch and the chance to socialise with other guests at the McDonald, Dr Lewis proceeded to describe the other archaeological activities run by Access Cambridge Archaeology in 2013. These included a wide range of different Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) projects as part of Cambridge Community Heritage as well as the excavations undertaken at Clare Castle and Goldingham Hall as part of the HLF landscape partnership project, Managing a Masterpiece.
The presentations concluded with an announcement that as part of ACA’s 10th anniversary celebrations in 2014-2015, Dr Carenza Lewis will be delivering a public lecture about the outreach work she has directed over the past decade on Wednesday 22nd October 2014, which will take place in a venue at the University of Cambridge. Further details will be announced on this website nearer the time, but anyone interested in attending should save the date and make sure to reserve a place when booking is open.
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