Meldreth Local History Group (MLHG) was one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant. We were given £7,100 to fund the digging of test pits at different locations in Meldreth in order to explore how the village developed and evolved.
All Our Stories, a new small grant programme, was launched in 2012 in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story and was designed as an opportunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage. The popular TV series, presented by historian Michael Wood and supported by a programme of BBC Learning activities and events, got thousands of us asking questions about our history and inspired us to look at our history in a different way through the eyes of ordinary people.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said, “Clearly the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us. This is exactly what the grant will do for Meldreth Local History Group as it embarks on a real journey of discovery.”
About Our Project
Our project will begin next year and will involve the digging of 20-30 test pits in different locations in the village. The test pits will be one metre square and up to one metre deep and we hope to involve the whole community by inviting people to come forward if they would like to have a test pit in their garden. An initial information meeting will be held, probably in March 2013, to explain the project in more detail. Findings from the project will be published on this website and in Meldreth Matters and the local press. We will hold an exhibition in the Village Hall at the conclusion of the project.
We will be working closely with Dr Carenza Lewis, former Time Team presenter, and head of the University of Cambridge’s Cambridge Community Heritage unit, who has overseen the digging of hundreds of test pits in over 50 villages throughout the east of England as part of the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project.
CORS aims to advance knowledge and understanding of the ways in which rural settlements that are still inhabited today developed in the past by carrying out a programme of small-scale excavations. This is enabling successive phases of activity within and around today’s villages and farms to be identified, dated, characterised and mapped so that the historic development of settlement in the targeted parishes can be reconstructed. In each of the villages studied so far, new foci of occupation have been identified and dated, and new ideas about the development of the settlement proposed, while the excavations have also highlighted the extent to which undisturbed medieval levels can survive within currently-occupied rural settlements. Reports on the test pits can be found online.
The University’s press release can be read on the University website.
A timetable of events connected to the project can be found on another page.
All Our Stories Evaluation
Following the conclusion of the project, evaluative reports were published by ICF GHK, an external consultancy. Not only does our project feature favourably in the full case studies report (pages 120-121) but it is also mentioned in the evaluation, where our exhibition was singled out following Carenza Lewis’s comment that the event conveyed “in a way that I think better than any other exhibition of finds that I’ve seen from test pitting, what test pitting is all about and how it works.” Both reports are available in full below.