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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.