Brundall Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 11th – 13th May

ACA returned to Brundall, Norfolk last week for its sixth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of 2016. 11 test pits were excavated in the village on 11th – 12th May by students from Broadland High School, Framingham Earl, Sheringham Woodfields and Notre Dame through the OpenOpportunity partnership.

TP 6dTP6 Starting out with their Test Pit.

All of the test pits were organised by Jacky Heath and Ann-Marie Simpson of the Brundall Local History Group. Jim Hudson of OpenOpportunity and Nigel Roberts were the beacon school coordinators and The Scout Hut 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, Brecklands, St Michaels Way, Highfield Avenue, Station New Road, Westfield Road and Blofield Road. The blog from the last time we were in Brundall can be accessed here.
The students worked in mixed-school teams of 3 or 4 and were supervised by teachers and local volunteers. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 by Catherine Ranson, Archaeological Supervisor 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.

TP 8g
Test Pit 8 in the Sun!

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.

TP 2f
Sieving in Test Pit 3

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.

TP 1k
Paperwork time in TP1

Cat Ranson, ACA archaeological supervisor, Matt Collins of Cambridge Archaeological Unit 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.

TP 5i
Test Pit 5 working hard!

Confirming our thoughts from previous years, there was a good spread of prehistoric flint flakes and burnt flints as well as a background scatter of medieval pottery sherds.

Gun flint 18 Blofield Road
In TP6 They found a Gunflint which is the piece of natural stone that is used in a ‘flintlock’ weapon to generate a spark.

worked flint core 27 Highfield Avenue
In TP4 They found a worked flint Core.

TP 1b
In TP1 Decorated bowl from a Clay pipe.

On the third day of the HEFA, the students arrived in Cambridge. Dr Nick James’s morning lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project again proved to be popular with many pupils saying that they enjoyed “learning more about how we were part of something valuable and worthwhile for the University of Cambridge” (PG)
The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Trinity, Corpus Christi, St Johns and Clare College. After lunch, Ben Leitch, Schools Liaison Officer for Clare 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 Ian Ostericher.

Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi College

In feedback after the HEFA, 94.7% of participants rated it as “Excellent” or “Good”. Comments included, “I enjoyed seeing what the University has to offer.” (HD) and “I think it was a good experience and would do it again.”(ND) Feedback from staff included, “a great opportunity to see the bigger picture and to be involved in an activity that is seen to have status” (JM) and “They have gained team working skills and enjoyable new experiences.” (AW).

TP 11a
Test Pit 11 – Thank you!

For more information about our Brundall HEFA please see today’s Norwich Evening News.

ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the four schools involved. Special thanks to Jim of OpenOpportunity,and Nigel for all his help with the organisation. Also Jacky and Ann-Marie of the Brundall Local History Group and all the volunteers who helped make this another successful field academy.

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