On Saturday 6th February, Access Cambridge Archaeology held their 10th annual Thank-You Day event to thank past and present HEFA coordinators, community volunteers and supporters in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge.
Our HEFA coordinators put a lot of work into organising each event; they oversee the set up of the dig, work out logistics, recruit sites for test pitting and are also the main point of contact for volunteers. Their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication is essential for the continuation of ACA’s work, not only in the research of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS), but also with the young people who attend each HEFA, giving them a unique experience and insight into both archaeology and higher education enabling them to develop personal, social, analytical and learning skills for their futures. Our coordinators, for HEFA and other projects, are supported by our ever-growing network of volunteers and we are grateful for the support not only offered in 2015, but since ACA’s inception.
The day began with the ACA manager, Alison Dickens of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, discussing recent changes to the ACA management and re-emphasising the continuance of the HEFA programme and community projects.
ACA’s founder and former director, Professor Carenza Lewis, then presented photographs and results from the 15 HEFAs in 2015 which involved over 60 schools throughout East Anglia and Hampshire, attended by 668 students with 128 members of school staff who dug a total of 169 test pits. This takes the total number of 1m² test pits excavated by the end of 2015 to an impressive 2,060 from ACA’s beginning in 2005!
The 14 villages excavated in 2015 were included several return visits to sites where we had previously excavated including: Walberswick (Suffolk), Long Melford (Suffolk), Great Amwell (Hertfordshire), North Warnborough (Hampshire), Hindringham (Norfolk) and Manuden (Essex), Rampton (Cambridgeshire), Sawtry (Cambridgeshire) and Riseley (Bedfordshire). New sites for 2015 were Hillington (Norfolk), Blo’ Norton (Norfolk), Brundall (Norfolk) (2 x HEFAs), Southminster (Essex) and Hadleigh (Essex).
A buffet lunch was provided in the McDonald Institute, allowing a chance for the 50 attendees to socialise with the ACA team as well as with other coordinators before the start of the afternoon talk. The afternoon session focused on the community work in which ACA has been involved over the past 12 months as well as looking ahead to upcoming projects.
Carenza looked back at 2015’s community projects. With Touching the Tide, a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) three year landscape partnership scheme along the Suffolk coastline, ACA undertook fieldwalking in Covehithe, Suffolk as well as a 9-day community excavation at Dunwich also on the north Suffolk coast. Additional test pitting was undertaken in conjunction with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU) in Longstanton (Cambs) as well as further excavations by Stour Valley Community Archaeology group (SVCA) at Goldingham Hall (Essex).
Alison rounded up the day by looking forward to what 2016 holds in store for ACA. A total of 15 HEFAs have been planned and confirmed including a further Bardney HEFA in conjunction with the University of Lincoln. Community plans include a 2-week excavation in June/July at Peterborough Cathedral as part of their upcoming 900th anniversary as well as further involvement with CAU outreach projects.