Hillington Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA)

The 2016 Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) season kicked off last week in Hillington, Norfolk. The 36 Year pupils in charge of digging the 9 test-pits in Hillington were from Springwood High School and King Edward VII High School. James Smith, teacher at Springwood High School, coordinated the students taking part while Margaret MacDougal of West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Archaeological Society (WNKLAS) liaised with local residents to find sites to excavate. The 1m square test pits were located in the gardens of private properties on Station Road and Wheatfields. Our base for the two days of excavation was The Ffolkes Arms Hotel and Country Club.

TP 2bTest Pit 2 with St Marys Church in the background

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 and were supervised by Springwood High School sixth formers and members of WNKLAS. After having a briefing on Day 1 by Alison Dickens, the new Manager of ACA, about the introduction to the field academies and the aims of the project, Cat Ranson, ACA Archaeological Supervisor, went through how to excavate and record the test pits. The students then went on to make excellent progress throughout the two days of digging. The weather was lovely, clear blue sky days, although at times turned a bit chilly however, spirits remained high.

Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, and Laure Bonner, along with Alison Dickens and Laura James, toured the Hillington test pits offering guidance on excavating and recording techniques. We were also delighted that Andrew Rogerson, Pottery Expert of the Norfolk County Council could join us on the 17th March.

IMG_3557A lovely sherd of High Medieval Pottery from Test Pit 4

Andrew, identified a few sherds of Iron Age pottery coming from test pits 2, 4, 7 and 8, initially indicating perhaps that the oldest known settlement at Hillington originated in this southeastern part of the modern village near St Mary’s Church, with scatters up towards the main road. A sherd of Samian pottery was found in Test Pit 7 which means a trace of Roman activity was found near the Main Road (A148). Other identified sherds of later Ipswich and Thetford ware seemingly point to the spreading out of the village towards the northwest in the Middle to late Saxon period c. 700-1100 A.D. As always, make sure to check our website in the near future for the complete pottery report.

P1140523Everyone examines the finds from Day 1

On the third day of the HEFA, the students arrived to a rather overcast Cambridge the sun of the past couple of day had left us. Both schools took the opportunity in the morning to spend a little extra time seeing what the city has to offer before meeting us for the beginning of Day 3.

P1140515Tiny porcelain ear from TP 4

Day 3 of the HEFA began with a taster lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project by Dr Nick James. The students were then taken on a tour of St John College and for lunch in the hall.

st johnsSt John’s College

The two-hour afternoon session was comprised of a talk by Megan Goldman-Roberts, the Schools Liaison Officer for St John’s College, about life as a university student followed by a presentation from Dr Jenni French on how to structure and present the written account of the excavation.

P1140430Group as they were about to hear from Alison Dickens

In feedback after the event, most of the participants rated the field academy as ‘excellent’ or ‘good. The students thoroughly enjoyed the chance to work as part of a team, learning new skills and finding things with one participant summing their HEFA experience up nicely: “I have gained a fun experience and now know a lot about being an archaeologist and about how to apply for university.” (SM) Another “enjoyed seeing a new part of the country and working with new people” (AC). One staff member said afterwards that she thought his students had gained “confidence, new skills and integration and teamwork.” (JS)

TP 6iTest pit 6 on Wheatfields

ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the two schools involved as well as the dedicated members of WNKLAS for making this first HEFA of 2016 such a success!


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