Carenza Lewis has teamed up with a Cultural Olympiad project which aims to conduct test pitting excavations in six villages (one in each of six East Anglian counties) over three weekends in September. The project is looking to dig 205 pits, 34 in each village, a pit for each country competing in the Olympics. This suggests we need 100 – 150 volunteers per village, many of whom will be residents. Each participating village will complete its test pits in one day. The idea is mass public participation in a community archaeological event with the theme of ‘Home’ – archaeology of course often finding evidence in the form of house remains, kitchen pottery wares, drinking vessels, cooking pots, animal bones from meals, and other domestic finds.
Gil suggested Ashwell to Carenza and the project organisers and this has been accepted as the Hertfordshire village to be dug. He thought of Ashwell for various reasons, e.g. because very little archaeological work has been undertaken within the village; the origins of the village are little understood (is there any connection with the earlier Romano-British settlement and cult sanctuary?); how and why did it become a borough by 1086 but then decline to village status and not become a town?; the famous graffito in the parish church refers to the terrible effect the Black Death had on Ashwell yet the village apparently continued to flourish – can archaeology reconcile this apparent conflict in the record? And of course large scale test pitting should provide us with much information about the origins and development of the village.
The Ashwell dig will happen on Saturday 10 September 2011. Carenza and her team will be on hand to supervise and encourage. The digging and recording will follow Carenza’s test pitting methodology as set out in her handbook.
If you would like to volunteer to take part in this unique and exciting project and help discover more of the archaeology of Ashwell, contact Gil, who will keep the Ashwell village coordinators informed. They include at least three NHAS members: Sarah Talks, Karen Mills and Peter Greener.
Check out the project website; look under Events and Get Involved for Dig and Sow. You have to register on the website if you wish to take part, using one of the following email addresses: Pacitto or On Landguard Point. If you register your interest in digging/finds processing at Ashwell, you will need to give your contact details and someone from Pacitto should get back to you.