On Saturday 10th February, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) held their 12th annual Thank-You day event within the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research on the Downing Site at the University of Cambridge. This event that has been happening since 2007 is a way for ACA to thank all the local coordinators, past and present, for all their effort with each village we test pit in and to celebrate all that was achieved during the 2017 archaeological season.
A lot of hard work goes into organising each ILAFS dig; our local coordinators find sites to dig the test pits on, help recruit volunteers, work on logistics of each day of digging with us and are often there during both days of the dig as essential extra pairs of hands! Their enthusiasm and dedication has been essential to the ongoing success of ACA over the last 13 years, contributing both to the ongoing research into these settlements but as well as the numerous secondary school students who attend each ILAFS with the aim of raising their aspirations towards Higher Education.
The day started with ACA’s manager, Alison Dickens, talking through each of the 13 villages that ACA excavated in during the 2017 field season, which included both new sites for this year and villages that we have excavated in before. These were: Brundall (Norfolk, Hillington (Norfolk), Histon (Cambridgeshire), Blythburgh (Suffolk), Rickinghall & Botesdale (Suffolk), Southminster (Essex), Old Clee (Lincolnshire), Hadleigh (Essex), North Warnborough (Hampshire), East and West Rudham (Norfolk), Healing (Lincolnshire), Wendens Ambo (Essex), Foxearth (Essex) and Riseley (Bedfordshire). Alison was also able to talk about the results from each settlement, briefly describing how the pottery results can give us clues about how the village developed and changed over time.
In 2017, ACA excavated a total of 128 1m square test pits with over 480 local secondary school pupils from across East Anglia as well as in north Lincolnshire and Hampshire. Added to this are the additional 20 test pits excavated by community groups in 2017, which in total brings a grand figure of 2,368 test pits that have been excavated by or the results collated by ACA since 2005. A very impressive figure indeed!!
After a delicious buffet lunch, which gave a chance for all the local coordinators to mingle and talk with the ACA staff, the afternoon session started with the further activities that were undertaken in 2017 by ACA. These included the Northstowe Open Day that was run with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), and the associated community test pitting in Longstanton, relating to the ongoing work at Northstowe. Trial excavations were undertaken by ACA in the garden of the David Parr house in Cambridge in advance of a possible future dig and ACA attended both the Cherry Hinton Festival in September and The Cambridge Antiquarian Society autumn conference.
Emily Ryley then delivered further statistics on ACA to include numbers from its inception in 2005. Some of the key figures are the sheer number of community groups we have worked with, over 70, mainly across the east of England but some are further afield. With these community groups ACA have enabled a total of 759 test pits to be excavated by members of the pubic, as well as taking part in at least 11 trench excavations, six fieldwalking events and one geophysics training exercise.
Emily also went on to talk about the Cambridge Archaeology Learning Foundation (CALF) days that ACA run in primary schools, bringing the subject of archaeology and the concept of the past to a much younger age group, compared to the ILAFS programme. If you would like to find out more about CALF days please click here.
The day finished looking at what is in store for ACA during 2018, including the 12 sites that will be excavated as part of the ILAFS programme and also includes a number of new settlements, such as Althorne (Essex), Hilgay (Norfolk), Bunwell (Norfolk), Thundersley (Essex), Great Gidding (Cambridgeshire) and Fulmodeston (Norfolk).
We are, as ever, immensely grateful to everyone who has worked with ACA, not just in 2017 but in all the previous years as we continue to give hundreds of secondary school students the chance to help realise their full potential in regard to Higher Education and the University of Cambridge. Please continue to follow this blog and ACA on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for both what work we are currently undertaking as well as future plans as they emerge.