North Warnborough Higher Education Field Academy 2016

ACA’s ninth Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) of 2016 was held in North Warnborough, Hampshire. 48 Year 9 and 10 pupils from Fort Hill Community School, The Costello School, Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College, Robert May’s School and Testwood School excavated 12 test-pits spread throughout North Warnborough. The pits were organised by John Champion and other members of The Odiham Society. The Mill House pub proved a wonderful base for the two days of excavation. This is the forth consecutive year ACA have held a HEFA in North Warnborough. Reports from previous years can be found here.

TP 5 e

The 12 x 1m square test pits were spread throughout the small village in North East Hampshire, located in private properties on Bridge Road, Hook Road, Mill Lane, Rough’s Cottage, Tunnel lane and several on North Warnborough Street.

TP 7 b

The students worked in mixed-school teams of 4 and were supervised by teachers from the 5 schools. After receiving a briefing on Day 1 by Alison Dickens, 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. Spirits remained high even though the rain started early on Wednesday. Rain didn’t stop play though and the pupils valiantly continued excavating and were encouraged by the medieval pottery they began to find by the end of day 1.


TP 9f

Test Pit 9


Paul Blinkhorn, post-Roman pottery specialist, toured the North Warnborough test pits providing guidance on excavating and recording techniques as well as identifying finds and pottery sherds. This information is recorded by the students in their individual Test Pit Excavation Record Booklet which is an invaluable asset in producing their written assignment. On pupil remarked, “I enjoyed finding out more about my village and the area” Day 2 produced much more medieval pottery and some test pits hitting the natural geology and finishing by lunch time. Students from finished test pits were able to see the others test pits and assist them in their final stages.

group shot

Emily Ryley welcomes the Group to Cambridge!

After a very early start and long coach journey Students arrived in Cambridge for their third day of the HEFA. Dr Nick James’ morning lecture on medieval settlement studies and the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project was really well received with many pupils commenting that “I enjoyed experiencing the lectures at Cambridge” another thought it was “fascinating to understand the history of the artifacts we found and discuss the theories of the area we lived in”.



The students then split into groups for lunch and a tour at one of Peterhouse, Trinity and Sidney Sussex Colleges. One student commented that they had enjoyed the “friendly and positive vibe” that The University of Cambridge offers.IMG_20160617_105114341_HDRIMG_20160617_105239954

The two-hour afternoon session was comprised of a talk from Kathy Purdy, Schools Liaison Officer at Peterhouse about life as a university student followed by a presentation from Eion Parknson on how to structure and present a written account of the excavation.

University life presentation

Dining hall Peterhouse College Cambridge

Enjoying the Harry Potter vibe at Peter house

The students felt they were much more prepared for the demands of university level work after the third lecture which guides them through how to write and submit a report covering the aims, methods and results of their test pit excavations. After marking and grading, all students receive a certificate of participation and an assessment of their data collection as well as personal, learning and thinking skills during the two days spent excavating, along with detailed feedback on their written report, if submitted.


ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the 5 schools involved. Special thanks to Karen Jones, beacon school coordinator, and John Champion, local coordinator.

TP 12 k

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