On Saturday 17th January, Access Cambridge Archaeology held their 9th annual Thank-You Day event to thank all HEFA coordinators past and present in the McDonald Institute for Archaeology Research here in Cambridge. A lot of work goes into organising each HEFA event with arrangements made by local coordinators who oversee the set up of the dig, as well as many logistics, including recruiting sites for test pitting and are also the main point of contact for us and volunteers. Their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication is essential for the continuation of ACA’s work, not only in the reasearch of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS), but with also the young people who attend each HEFA, giving them a unique experience and insight into both archaeology as well as higher education and enables them to develop personal, social, analytical and learning skills for their futures.
ACA’s director, Dr Carenza Lewis began the day by showing photographs and the main results from the 13 HEFA’s in 2014 which involved 52 schools throughout East Anglia and Hampshire that were attended by 526 students with 98 members of school staff, who dug a total of 211 test pits. This takes the total number of 1m² test pits excavated by the end of 2014 to an impressive 1,891 from ACA’s beginning in 2005!
The 13 villages that were excavated in in 2014 were mainly return visits to sites where we had previously excavated, including Writtle (Essex), Acle (Norfolk), Walberswick (Suffolk), Garboldisham (Norfolk), Daws Heath (Essex), Long Melford (Suffolk), Great Amwell (Hertfordshire), North Warnborough (Hampshire), Hindringham (Norfolk) and Manuden (Essesx). The new villages involved for the first time in 2014 were Rampton (Cambridgeshire), Sawtry (Cambridgeshire) and Riseley (Bedfordshire).
After a buffet lunch in the McDonald, where there was also a chance to socialise with the ACA team as well as with other coordinators, before the start of the afternoon talk, which focused on the community work that ACA has been involved with over the past 12 months throughout the country.
With Touching the Tide, a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) three year landscape partnership scheme along the Suffolk coastline, ACA undertook both fieldwalking and geophysics at Snape in Suffolk, as well as test pitting through both Southwold and Reydon on the north Suffolk coast. Additional test pitting was undertaken in both Sudbury and Nayland, both in Suffolk as well as further excavations by Stour Valley Community Archaeology group (SVCA) at Goldingham Hall.
The presentations also looked back at the celebration of 10 years of ACA that was held in October 2014 at the University of Cambridge, where Dr Lewis looked back over the last decade and the work that has been undertaken by ACA with its related research and outreach. This was then followed by a drinks reception hosted by the Festival of Ideas at the University of Cambridge that was attended by close friends and collegues of ACA. The day ended with a look at what the future will hold for ACA, including plans to take the HEFA programme nationally across England over the next four years.
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