The Story of Our Project
This page was created as an ongoing record of our test pitting project in 2013. The most recent entries are at the top, so if you would like to read it in chronological order, please start at the bottom of the page.
Any images referred to in the text can be seen in the photo gallery at the bottom of the page.
Almost two years after the first pit was dug, we decided it was time we tied up a few loose ends on our project! Two of the finds (the medieval mirror back from Test Pit 7 and the arrowhead from Test Pit 29) were already with Carenza Lewis’s team at Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA), having been sent for special conservation work in 2014. The remainder of the finds have now been handed over to ACA for safe keeping.
The final report of the project, written by Carenza Lewis and Alex Pryor, has been added to the other reports on our results page. We have also received the reports on the mirror back (TP7) and the arrowhead (TP29) from the conservationist. These have been uploaded to our results page and the information added to the pages for Test Pit 7 and Test Pit 29.
Finally, during our project, we participated in an evaluation of the HLF All Our Stories programme which was carried out by ICF GHK, an external consultancy. In March 2015 we received copies of the overall valuation and a case studies report. 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.”
9th June 2014
A page on the gatherings held at the end of each weekend was added to the site.
30th May 2014
A page on our end of project exhibition was added to the website.
17th March 2014
The video of Dr Lewis’s talk at our exhibition on 24th November has now been uploaded to our Youtube channel and has been added to the results page on our website. In her talk, Carenza gives an overview of our project and describes the significance of the results, putting them into context, and revealing what they can tell us about the history and development of the village.
3rd March 2014
All of the individual test pit results sheets have now been updated with the details of the “other” finds, as recorded in the final report.
27th February 2014
All of the individual test pit pages have now been updated with a summary of the finds from the pit. Links to the relevant exhibition poster (see example in the photo gallery below) and to the test pit’s results sheet have also been provided.
Some additional photographs of finds are yet to be added, together with a page on the get togethers at the end of each weekend of test pitting.
The final report has just been completed by Access Cambridge Archaeology and once this has been checked, it will be uploaded to the results page on our website.
26th February 2014
A new page has been added to the website, with a link to Tim Gane’s film of our project. We hope you enjoy watching it!
25th February 2014
Maps showing the distribution of the flints found in the test pits have now been uploaded to the site.
13th February 2014
Today I received a letter from the Heritage Lottery Fund thanking us for submitting our End of Grant report and congratulating us on completing a successful All Our Stories project. The HLF records have now been closed and our project has been recorded as complete.
5th February 2014
I have submitted the online “End of Grant” report to the HLF today so our project has officially been completed. However, work still continues as all of the findings have not yet been added to the website. We hope to receive the final report from Cambridge University soon.
31st January 2014
We have now added a selection of photographs and the film of our project as a Collection to historypin. These, together with this blog, form part of the “digital record” of our project and will also be uploaded to the All Our Stories section on Historypin. A second film, which is being produced by pupils at Melbourn Village College will be added at a later stage.
23rd January 2014
I had the final telephone conversation today with David Scott of GHK Consulting. The company has been contracted to carry out some research into the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories projects on behalf of the HLF. During the call, which lasted an hour, I was asked questions about different aspects of our project and its outcomes. A two-page write-up of our project will be prepared, presenting our activities and achievements. We will be able to use this case study for our own needs and it will feature in the evaluation report published by the HLF.
22nd January 2014
I began filling in the HLF’s end-of-project report online today. It is not too involved, but I’ve seen better-designed forms!
20th January 2014
Tim tells me that he has finished the film! I’ve been given a preview and he has done a superb job: it’s a fantastic record of our entire project. There are just one or two checks to complete and then we hope to upload it to our HistoryPin channel, and this website, next week. Students from Melbourn Village College are doing some more work on their film and this should be ready to be uploading within the next couple of weeks.
7th January 2014
The pottery, bone and flint reports have now been uploaded. Results will also be added to the individual test pit pages over the course of the next few weeks. The full report summarising all of the project findings will be uploaded when available.
6th December 2013
We have received the report on the flints that were found in the test pits. A total of 88 worked flints were recovered from the investigations together with 140.8g of unworked burnt flint (11 pieces). The flint was recovered from 22 test pits with numbers of worked pieces varying from 1 to 21 in individual test pits. The assemblage appears to reflect prehistoric activity from the Neolithic well into later prehistory.
2nd December 2013
We had a final sort through the finds this morning to make sure that everything was in order following our exhibition. We’ve continued to receive excellent feedback on the exhibition and are really pleased that it went so well. Although we are still to receive the flint and the main reports, we have started to look forward to next year and to consider different ways in which we can build upon the results of this project.
28th November 2013
We have continued to receive excellent feedback following Sunday’s exhibition and are very grateful to everyone who has taken the trouble to get in touch.
We’ve also received good coverage in the local papers this week, with both the Royston Crow and the Royston Weekly News covering our exhibition. Please click on the images below to read the articles.
24th November 2013
The day of the exhibition dawned, and a small team gathered at Meldreth Village Hall at 8.00am to begin setting up for the exhibition. We were joined by more helpers at 9.00am, who began setting out the test pit finds. It’s surprising how many man hours it can take to set up and we were only just ready for the first visitors when the exhibition opened at 11.00am.
In the end, the hard work was worth it. We had hundreds of visitors to the exhibition throughout the day and many, many positive comments. In addition to the finds and other displays, two films of the project were shown throughout the day. These will form part of the “digital record” of our project: one of the requirements of the Heritage Lottery Fund. One film was made by Tim Gane of the History Group and the other has been made for us by students at Melbourn Village College. Links to both films will be added to this website in due course.
Dr Carenza Lewis, who has worked closely with us throughout the project, gave a talk at 3.00pm that was attended by approximately 150 people. She said, “I think it is the most fantastic exhibition; it really conveys 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, the way you’ve got the pictures, the maps and the finds all laid out”. Carenza went on to speak about the importance of the finds and put them into context by comparing them with results from other East Anglian villages where similar projects have been carried out. It seems that Meldreth is unusual in a number of respects! Carenza concluded by saying, “You should be really, really proud of the huge amount of work, energy and effort that has gone in, so that you can now reconstruct your place in history from digging tiny little fragments from your gardens … and I wonder what is still out there!”
One of the visitors to the exhibition was from Heritage Action and has posted a review of the exhibition online.
23rd November 2013
Joan and Tim Gane and I took a well-earned break from the exhibition preparations to attend a Cambridge Community Heritage Celebration Event in Cambridge. After a talk by Karen Brookfield, Deputy Director of Strategy and Business Development at the HLF, there was an opportunity to view an exhibition highlighting the work of some of the groups Cambridge Community Heritage have worked with this year. The diversity of the projects was amazing and all of the projects are briefly described in a leaflet produced for the occasion.
Following the Celebration Event, it was back to making posters!
22nd November 2013
It’s one year to the day since we announced that we had been successful with our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and work is continuing on all the displays for our exhibition on Sunday. We’ve been advised that, unfortunately, the flint report and therefore the main report, will not be available in time for our exhibition.
21st November 2013
We have received good coverage of our exhibition in the local press this week. Please click on the images below to read the full reports.
Work has continued throughout the week. Artefacts have now been selected for the display cases and work on the displays is progressing. The maps showing the distribution of bone were received yesterday and have now been prepared for display. Unfortunately, the flint report has still not been received, and that is holding up preparation of some of the displays.
19th November 2013
We received rather surprising news today. An item found in June on the first weekend of digging which was originally thought to be a pilgrim’s badge, has now been identified as a mirror case. The artefact is believed to date from the late fourteenth century and is an exact match for one previously found at Billingsgate in London (pictured in the gallery below). In fact, they probably come out of the same mould. This makes it an even more remarkable find than at first thought. This will necessitate some changes to our film and to the displays.
Exhibition preparations continued: an email was sent to all of the volunteers, plus those on the History Group mailing list, reminding them of the exhibition on Sunday. Invitations have also been sent out to selected individuals and groups.
15th November 2013
I produced A5 and A4 posters for the exhibition today. These will be put up in various locations early next week. Press releases have been sent to the Royston Crow, Royston Weekly News and Radio Cambridgeshire, so let’s hope they result in some good publicity.
We made a quick visit to the village hall yesterday to confirm some measurements. We think we’ll be able to fit everything in! Work on the displays is continuing but there’s still quite a lot to do and we’re still waiting for some information from Cambridge University. The bones are ready to be collected so we’ll be able to have those on display but we’re still waiting for the flint report and general reports to be completed.
13th November 2013
We’ve just received the report on the bones that were dug out of the test pits this summer. There were a total of 879 pieces of bone. Over 38% of this assemblage came from just two of the test pits. Visit our exhibition on 24th November to find out which ones!
11th November 2013
We had a busy meeting this morning. Some members continued preparing the test pit displays for our exhibition on 24th November. We also went through some of the pottery finds, taking photographs that will be used at the exhibition.
Some finds were also being selected for presentation in the display cases that we purchased with our Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
6th November 2013
I have returned a completed questionnaire today to a university student who is working on behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund. I’m also providing information to Cambridge University for use in their final report on our project.
4th November 2013
Attendees at our regular weekly meeting received a treat this morning when Tim Gane showed us the fantastic fifteen-minute film he has made of our project. The film will receive its first public screening at our exhibition in Meldreth Village Hall on 24th November, where it will be shown throughout the day. Following the exhibition, the film will be updated to include coverage of the exhibition itself and the project’s findings. It will eventually be added to our website.
3rd November 2013
Work is continuing on our exhibition. Although we haven’t received all of the reports back yet, we have begun research for some of the displays and are making good progress.
I emailed all of the volunteers at the end of last week and several have since come forward to offer to help with the preparations for the exhibition and/or on the day itself. We really appreciate all of the offers of help: it’s fantastic to have so many people volunteering to take an active role in the work of the History Group.
Tim has made a 15-minute film of the project and this will be shown throughout the day on 24th November.
17th October 2013
Paul Blinkhorn has been examining all of the pottery finds from our test pitting and we have just received his report. It contains some very interesting results. We will be featuring some of these findings in our exhibition in Meldreth Village Hall on 24th November.
12th October 2013
Three members of Meldreth Local History Group attended a training event run by Cambridge Community Heritage today. The course was on ‘Writing, Publishing and Archiving’.
3rd October 2013
1st October 2013
30th September 2013
Planning for our exhibition on 24th November continued. We will begin work on the displays this week.
28th September 2013
The page for test pit 28 was added to the website. This pit could hold the record for the deepest test pit ever dug, so take a look to see how many contexts there were!
26th September 2013
After some final checks and a day of scanning record sheets and renaming files, one bag of bones and a box each of pot, flint and “other” finds was delivered to Access Cambridge Archaeology this afternoon.
The finds will be sent to different experts for further analysis, after which we will receive a detailed report.
23rd September 2013
We continued our discussion on the format of our exhibition in November. Some interesting ideas have been put forward and we will be exploring these in the coming weeks.
17th September 2013
Tim has been working hard on producing a film of our project. The 20-minute film will be shown at our exhibition on 24th November. Pupils at Melbourn Village College are working on their own film, which we also hope to show in November.
16th September 2013
A further two test pit pages were added to our website today: those for Meldreth Manor and the Old Bell. We also began discussing the format of our exhibition in November.
10th September 2013
The first two pages on test pits from the third and final weekend of digging were added to the website today. More pages will be added in due course.
9th September 2013
We finished checking the finds this morning and will be sending them to Cambridge University shortly.
5th September 2013
We held another finds processing session this morning and managed to complete sorting the remaining contexts. Our thanks go to everyone who turned up to one or more of the sessions we’ve held recently: it’s much appreciated.
We now have some checking to do before sending the finds away for expert analysis.
2nd September 2013
I received our copy of Local History News, a national journal published by the British Association for Local History. Our HLF test pitting project received a mention in the Societies News section. Please click on the image in the gallery below if you would like to view a larger image.
Thanks to a record attendance of 18 people, we have now almost finished processing the test pit finds. We will have a final session later this week when we hope to sort the remaining contexts. We will then check all of the bags and paperwork before they are sent to Cambridge University.
1st September 2013
An article on our project has been published in the September 2013 issue of the Melbourn Magazine (see the gallery below). An update has also been published in the current month’s issue of Meldreth Matters.
31st August 2013
Thirteen people attended our finds sorting session today and we are now approximately half way through the task in hand. The next session will be on Monday 2nd September from 9.30am to midday in the Community Room in Elin Way. All welcome as we are keen to complete this work next week.
30th August 2013
We had our second processing session this morning and 11 people came along to the Community Room in Elin Way to help. Good progress was made and we are now about a third of the way through all of the finds. Many thanks to all those who’ve helped with this mammoth task! We’ve another two sessions already booked for tomorrow morning and Monday morning and we will be booking more sessions for next week.
28th August 2013
We had the first of our finds processing sessions this evening, when 14 people gathered in the Sheltered Housing Community Room in Elin Way. The finds from three test pits were sorted and bagged and our thanks go to all those who helped. The next sessions are booked for Friday and Saturday mornings of this week, from 10.00am until midday.
24th August 2013
Three sessions have been booked during the coming week to enable us to carry out the preliminary finds processing. This involves separating the finds from each context into different groups, e.g. pottery, bone, flint, etc. Finds are then weighed and photographed before being placed in labelled bags. Once we’ve completed this task, the finds will be sent to Cambridge University for expert analysis. If you would like to help with this, please contact us for details.
23rd August 2013
Work continued on two test pits today. Both test pits were left unfinished at the weekend as they were still producing pottery when time ran out and the owners decided to carry on digging.
The pit at Topcliffe Mill was completed this afternoon, when a hard-working group of volunteers (pictured) dug down to 1.1 metres before calling it a day. There were few finds produced today but an enjoyable day was had by all. Test pitting really is a great social activity!!
Just one pit remains open now: it is 1.3 metres deep and still producing pottery. It is reportedly becoming difficult climbing in and out …
22nd August 2013
Please click on the image in the gallery below to view the Royston Crow article that was published in the paper today.
20th August 2013
The Royston Crow has uploaded an article to their website on our test pitting project.
19th August 2013
We began sorting and photographing the test pit finds this morning. Finds from all test pits have to be separated into pottery, flint, bone, etc. before being sent to Cambridge University for formal identification and analysis. We will need several sessions before this work is complete, but many hands make light work, so please let us know if you are interested in helping.
18th August 2013
With the exception of one pit (where an enthusiastic team of diggers completed the pit in one day) work continued today on our final day of test pitting. Medieval pottery was produced in most of the pits and many people said how much they enjoyed the experience. There were a lot of visitors to the test pits and the mill this afternoon and over 50 people gathered at the end of the afternoon to view all of the finds and to hear a summing up from each test pit team. Once again, we’d like to say a huge “thank you” to all of the test pit owners and volunteers who have helped to make this project so successful.
17th August 2013
We had a very successful day of test pitting today. Approximately 50 volunteers were in action and all ten pits being dug were open to the public.
Here at Topcliffe Mill, we dug a pit on a moated site where a manor house stood from at least the late thirteenth century to the early fifteenth century. We had a particularly productive pit, with medieval pottery appearing as soon as we began digging. We also found plenty of bone and shells. Our find of the day was an arrowhead (pictured below) which came from the third context (20-30cm below the surface). This context also produced 38 pieces of bone, 48 pieces of pottery and 62 pieces of shell.
Work will continue on all pits tomorrow (Sunday) so please visit the pits to see what we are digging up. Topcliffe Mill is also open to visitors between midday and 4.00pm.
16th August 2013
As I was making the final preparations for the weekend, exciting news came in about the pilgrim’s badge (pictured below) that was found on our first weekend of test pitting in June. Dr Mary Chester-Kadwell has looked at the badge and believes that it is sufficiently unusual to warrant obtaining a second opinion. She has dated the badge, which was found in only the second context of a test pit, as 14th to 15th century.
Dr Chester-Kadwell believes that the badge is not from Walsingham, as perhaps previously suggested. The badge depicts the crucifixion and has an inscription on it and she believes that it may be possible to determine the full inscription if a conservator can remove the concreted soil from the right-hand edge.
For more information, please see a copy of Dr Chester-Kadwell’s report.
15th August 2013
The Royston Crow kindly published a small article on our final weekend of test pitting.
14th August 2013
A newsletter was sent out to all those on our mailing list, giving details of the test pits that will be dug this weekend. The newsletter can be viewed by clicking on the relevant image in the gallery below.
13th August 2013
I prepared all of the information packs today ready for the final round of test pits and checked the equipment, which will be issued to test pit owners on Saturday.
10th August 2013
Press releases regarding our final weekend of test pitting were sent to the Royston Crow and the Royston Weekly News.
8th August 2013
I finalised arrangements for 17th and 18th August today. All ten test pits will be open to the public and a page giving details of these has been added to the website. I’ve also finished a poster (see gallery below) which will be put up in various locations over the coming days.
I continued contacting all those who have volunteered to help out on our final weekend of test pitting.
1st August 2013
Another article on the project was included in the August issue of Meldreth Matters.
31st July 2013
All test pit owners for our third and final weekend of test pitting on 17th & 18th August have been contacted by email or letter today. I also began contacting volunteers.
30th July 2013
Began adding pages to the website on the test pits from the second weekend of test pitting on 6th and 7th July. More pages will be added in due course.
29th July 2013
Received the final memory sticks containing photographs from the July weekend of test pitting. These will be added to the website in due course.
18th July 2013
A report on our second weekend of test pitting appeared in the Royston Crow. The article highlighted the dig at the Primary School and can be viewed by clicking on the image in the gallery below.
12th July 2013
Today, members of Meldreth Local History Group dug a test pit in the grounds of Meldreth Manor School, a Scope school for disabled children and young people. The pit was dug close to the Manor House, a late seventeenth century Grade II listed building and we had high hopes that we would find plenty of interesting things! Unfortunately, this was not to be and the pit revealed relatively few finds dating from only the last century or so. It appears that at one time, builders’ rubble may have been deposited in this location! Some of the children and young people were brought by their carers to look at the pit and at what we were finding. Although they were too disabled to take an active role, we hope they found the activity interesting.
9th July 2013
An email has been sent to all volunteers and test pit owners to thank them for their help over the weekend. Press releases have also been sent to the Royston Crow and Royston Weekly News.
Pages on each test pit have begun to be added to the site. At present, the pages include a gallery of images from the test pit, together with a transcription of the site diary, where provided. In time, details of the finds discovered will be added.
8th July 2013
Most equipment has now been returned and has been cleaned in preparation for the next test pitting weekend on 17th and 18th August.
7th July 2013
Once again, we had a very successful weekend of test pitting with over 50 volunteers involved each day and many more people visiting the seven test pits that were open to the public. All of the pits produced items of interest, including prehistoric, Roman and medieval pottery. Curiously, relatively little pottery was found from the last few hundred years and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues when we dig our next test pits on 17th and 18th August.
At the end of the weekend, over 50 people gathered (pictured below) to view the finds and to hear Dr Carenza Lewis give an overview of what had been found.
6th July 2013
Our Chairman, Joan Gane, appeared on Radio Cambridgeshire this morning to publicise this, our second weekend of test pitting.
This afternoon, we were particularly pleased to welcome members of Royston Museum‘s Time Trackers group who visited the village to participate in our project.
5th July 2013
What a day! Take one test pit and approximately 140 enthusiastic children and you have a recipe for success! We began our test pit weekend one day early, by going into Meldreth Primary School to dig a test pit on the school playing field. Throughout the day, all of the children were able to come out to see what was going on and to help dig, take measurements, sieve soil and wash finds. Without exception, they were all eager to help and so interested in what was going on and what was being found. We dug three contexts (30 cm) and found several pieces of what we believe to be medieval pottery and what we’ve provisionally identified as a George II coin. Melbourn Village College students visited in the morning to video the project. Our thanks to the staff and pupils of Meldreth Primary School for a truly memorable day.
4th July 2013
As we finalise preparations for our second weekend of digging, we’ve received excellent coverage of the project in both the Royston Weekly News and the Royston Crow today.
I’ve just heard that BBC Radio Cambridgeshire is keen to cover the project on their Saturday morning breakfast show this week. Listen out for our Chairman, Joan Gane who will be on air at 7.45am on Saturday morning. The project will also be mentioned on Radio Cambridgeshire news bulletins throughout Saturday morning.
3rd July 2013
The final three site visits were made this morning by three members of the organising team.
2nd July 2013
Press releases regarding next weekend’s test pits have been sent out today to the local papers and local radio. We’ve also signed off the risk assessment for the coming weekend.
Other preparations for the weekend by the organising team have included:
- designing a poster and putting this up in Meldreth and the local area
- preparing the information packs that will be given to each test pit owner
- printing signs for the barriers at Flambards
1st July 2013
There’s less than a week to go now until our second weekend of test pitting on 6th and 7th July and the weather is looking promising! Arrangements are well under way. Three site visits were undertaken at the end of last week and there are three more which will be done in a couple of days’ time. All volunteers and test pit owners have now been contacted so we are looking forward to another successful weekend.
Seven of the ten pits will be open to the public and a page giving details of the weekend and the location of the public pits has been added to the website.
Another article on the project, including write-ups by two of the volunteers, was included in the July issue of Meldreth Matters.
24th June 2013
At our meeting this morning, we finalised arrangements for the next weekend of test pitting, on 6th & 7th July. There are several site visits that we need to make as a number of people have asked for help in choosing the exact location for their pit. All volunteers will be contacted in the next few days.
20th June 2013
As reported on 6th March, we have agreed to be included in a case study being conducted by GHK Consulting on behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Today I provided an interim progress report to GHK and was able to let them know how well the project has been progressing.
15th June 2013
We had a stand at Holy Trinity Church fete today. Some of the finds from test pits 4 (British Queen) and 7 and 8 (Flambards Green) were on display. We also had a board containing information on the Group, the test pit project and photographs from each of last weekend’s test pits.
A lot of people had read or heard about the pilgrim’s badge and although we were unable to have the actual badge on display, Carenza had supplied us with a good photograph to use instead.
Interest in the project itself was very high, with a number of new volunteers coming forward. Other people were keen to know if more test pits will be dug next year as they want to have a pit in their garden too! This project certainly seems to have captured the imagination …
14th June 2013
The Open July booklets arrived from Cambridgeshire County Council. Our July test pit weekend (6th & 7th July) has been included in them. Details of all events have been added to www.cambridgeshire.net.
13th June 2013
We’ve had fantastic publicity this week, with both the Royston Weekly News and the Royston Crow carrying reports and photographs from the weekend. Click on the images in the gallery below to read the full reports. There is also a selection of photographs and a report on the Weekly News website and the Royston Crow website.
Work has continued this week, albeit at a slower pace! All equipment has now been returned and emails have been sent out to all those who have volunteered to have a test pit in their garden or on their land on 6th and 7th July.
Volunteers from the weekend continue to show their enthusiasm for the project. Jack Sell has written an article for Meldreth Matters and several members of one of the test pit teams from the High Street are keen to volunteer their services for a dig in Saffron Walden at the end of July.
10th June 2013
We had our usual meeting this morning and discussed how we felt the weekend had gone. We had more people than usual, as several volunteers from the weekend turned up, eager to learn more. It was interesting to receive their thoughts on the event and as a result of the feedback we have received, we will probably make some minor changes to the way the next weekend is run. We also had a visit from Meg Shortt of Melbourn U3A History Group. As previously mentioned in this blog, they are helping us as part of a “shared learning” project and are currently researching the history of Flambards Manor.
We collected some more of the equipment today and have stored it away until the next digs on 6th and 7th July. We began putting the finds in trays this afternoon, as some of the finds that have been washed need to dry out thoroughly. We will probably do some of the preliminary work on the finds ourselves, so please contact us if you are interested in helping with this.
I sent press releases to the Royston Weekly News and Royston Crow this afternoon, so we hope we will receive some good publicity this week.
9th June 2013
Another successful day, with the prize for enthusiasm going to the team at Test Pit 9 (pictured in the gallery below) who were so keen they went on to dig a second test pit!
All of the pits produced something this weekend, although for a few this was mainly bricks and rubble! Pottery dating to before the Black Death turned up in several pits. In particular, one pit produced a very unusual find, provisionally identified as a medieval pilgrim badge. Carenza has been involved in the digging of nearly 1500 pits over the last few years and this is the first time that a pilgrim badge has ever been found in a test pit, so it’s a remarkable discovery and a first for Meldreth!
A huge thank you to all those involved over the weekend and to everyone who came to see what we were doing. Many of those who helped have now caught the bug and are keen to help at our next test pits on 6th and 7th July.
8th June 2013
There were over 40 people involved today and we had a successful day’s digging, with several pits producing medieval sherds. Test pit 10 at Fieldgate Nurseries has been completed, having been dug to a depth of 70cm. Most other pits have been dug to 40cm and digging will resume at 10.00am tomorrow.
7th June 2013
Just one day to go. Today we’ve been finalising all of the paperwork, preparing information packs and sorting out all of the equipment.
The Royston Weekly News have telephoned to say that their photographer will come along tomorrow afternoon to take some photographs at one of the test pits.
6th June 2013
An article was published in the Royston Crow (see gallery below) advertising this weekend’s test pits.
5th June 2013
Emails were sent to all test pit owners and volunteers involved this coming weekend. A newsletter was sent out to over 200 people with details of our current project, plus other Group news. Please click on the relevant image in the gallery below to download a copy. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list, please email us.
4th June 2013
Another full day of admin. I’ve added a new page to the website, giving the location of the pits that are open to the public this coming weekend. There is also a link to a printable version of the information, including a map.
I’ve also been uploading resource documents to the website, drafting emails to test pit owners and volunteers and preparing documentation for this weekend. Other Group members have been sending out newsletters and putting up posters around the village. We also made a site visit today to finalise the location of one of this weekend’s test pits.
We’ve just heard from Melbourn Village College, and students will be coming to film some of the test pitting in Flambards Close this weekend.
3rd June 2013
As we approach our first weekend of test pitting, there is still much to do. This morning, we had our final meeting before the digs and spent three hours discussing arrangements for the weekend and for tonight’s training session. Then it was back home to continue with all of the paperwork and preparation. I sent press releases to the Royston Crow, Royston Weekly News and Radio Cambridgeshire so we are hoping for some good publicity later this week.
Tonight’s training went very well. Thirty-three people attended the session, which was run by Robert Skeen. Over 50 people have now received training as part of this project.
2nd June 2013
I have updated our map of the village to make it clear which pits are being dug on which weekends.
8th/9th June – green flags
6th/7th July – pink flags
17th/18th August – orange flags
Those flags with a silver star on them show the pits that will be open to the public.
I wonder which pit will produce the best finds?
1st June 2013
One week today, we will be digging our first test pits!
June’s issue of Meldreth Matters includes an article on the project. There is also an article by Terry Lynch on the Peasants Revolt and the usual In This Month … feature.
31st May 2013
Replies are trickling in, following the emails I sent the other day. As they come in, I’m updating my Excel spreadsheet (see gallery below). I’m not sure if anybody else would be able to understand it, but it looks colourful!
Over 40 volunteers will be involved on the June weekend alone, so it’s becoming quite a task to keep on top of all of the admin. There’s only one week to go now before the first test pits are dug and there still seems a lot to do …
30th May 2013
More equipment arrived today, all sourced by Tim, including washing up bowls, trowels and sieves. We’re almost there!
29th May 2013
I received my copy of The Listing today and was very pleased to see that our article promoting the test pits had been published. Click on the image in the gallery below to read the article.
26th May 2013
Today I have sent out over 30 emails. I have contacted all those who are having a test pit on their land on 8th/9th June and those who have volunteered to help us with the project that weekend. Once replies come in, we will know how many volunteers we have in total and can then begin to assign them to specific test pits/tasks.
25th May 2013
Two group members made another trip to Haslingfield today, this time to see an exhibition following a test pit project last year when 29 pits were dug in Haslingfield on one day. It was very interesting to see how the finds from each pit were displayed and I think we will be “borrowing” some of their ideas for our end-of-project exhibition! Archaeologist Rob Atkins gave a short talk on the significance of the finds and Jemima Woolverton then spoke about the work of Jigsaw, a local group that supports community archaeology.
24th May 2013
Sieves, marker pens, rulers and finds bags have now been purchased!
23rd May 2013
I managed to find some more display cases on Ebay. These are new cases and we have ordered four, two of which will be made to our specification. Tim will pick them up next week.
20th May 2013
Some of the equipment has arrived. More is on order and there are still some items to source. Now we just need to find somewhere to store it all …
At the meeting today, we discussed arrangements for the June weekend and made sure we have enough volunteers to man all of the test pits. I will be contacting all test pit owners and the volunteers needed for the June pits in the next couple of days. We also had a site visit in Flambards Close today to try to pinpoint an exact location for one of the test pits. By examining old photographs, maps and aerial photographs we managed to select what we hope will be a suitable site.
Tim has been working on a film of our project, which will form part of our “digital record” that we are required to produce as part of our grant conditions. He’s done a fantastic job and already has about five minutes of edited film ready.
19th May 2013
So far, we have about twenty people coming to the training session we are running in the village on Monday 3rd June. Replies are still coming in, so there could well be a lot more attending. This means that by the time of the first digs, over 40 people will have received training.
16th May 2013
Tim has spent a couple of days sourcing and purchasing equipment and has managed to spend nearly £500 already! The equipment he’s bought includes 10 mattocks, 10 hand shovels, 20 buckets, numerous finds trays (aka seed trays), 10 trowels, 10 tape measures, 10 clipboards and 40 toothbrushes (for cleaning the finds).
15th May 2013
I submitted an article to The Listing, promoting the June weekend of test pits. The same article will be used in the June issue of Meldreth Matters.
13th May 2013
It was great to see some new faces at our regular Monday morning meeting today: we were able to discuss some aspects of the project in detail and decide on the next steps to be taken. We’ve decided that it’s rather complicated trying to organise three weekends of test pitting in one go, so we’re now concentrating on one weekend at a time.
We have finalised the ten test pit locations for our first weekend of digging on 8th/9th June. The next step will be to contact the landowners again to confirm arrangements and send them the Health and Safety guidelines and a list of any equipment they need to provide. We will then contact volunteers to let them know if they are needed for the June weekend. We’re also going to start buying the equipment we need.
12th May 2013
Today I visited the nearby village of Ashwell for the “Ashwell at Home” event. Fifty test pits have been dug in Ashwell over the past two years and today they were digging a test pit in the cottage garden. This is part of their current project (primarily fieldwalking) for which they have received Heritage Lottery Funding. It was great to see the pit being dug, to view the finds and to witness the community’s involvement. The children who were there clearly loved finding bits of pottery and bone and really enjoyed sieving and washing the finds. We also viewed a display on Ashwell’s archaeology in the excellent Ashwell Museum.
11th May 2013
Nineteen of our volunteers attended an Archaeological Training Day in Cambridge run by Carenza Lewis and Paul Blinkhorn. In the morning, Carenza covered the aims and methods of test pit excavation, together with important health and safety guidelines. In the afternoon, Paul gave us some tips on how to identify pottery. The day ended with a practical workshop, when we attempted to identify some small finds. It was an excellent day and our newly acquired knowledge will prove invaluable as we approach our first weekend of test pitting on 8th/9th June.
Before and after the course, some of us took the opportunity to look around the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (as the course was being held in the same building). Of particular interest to us were the exhibits from Meldreth and the surrounding area.
10th May 2013
Today, we had a very productive meeting with staff from Meldreth Manor School. They are very keen to have a test pit on school grounds. The dig will probably take place on week days, rather than on one of the scheduled weekends, as this will allow more of the students to participate.
Our Treasurer has now arranged our specialist insurance. This will cover us for archaeological activities we undertake over the next twelve months.
9th May 2013
Today, we contacted Quinton Carroll, the Historic Environment Team Leader at Cambridgeshire County Council as we wished to check if there were any scheduled ancient monuments in the village or other places where we were not permitted to dig test pits. Fortunately for us, Quinton replied to say that there are no scheduled ancient monuments in the village. This leaves us free to put test pits within some of the moated areas in Meldreth, such as Flambards and Topcliffe.
7th May 2013
Carenza Lewis visited Meldreth and spent a couple of hours walking around the village with three representatives from the History Group. We looked at some of the potential sites for test pits. This was really useful and we now have a much clearer idea of the exact locations of some of the test pits.
2nd May 2013
This blog was uploaded to the website for the first time. It will be regularly updated from now on.
We now have 70 names on our project mailing list and began to email and write to all of them on an individual basis to update them on our test pit schedule and the opportunities for training.
1st May 2013
A short article was included in the May issue of Meldreth Matters, alongside our usual “In This Month …” feature.
30th April 2013
Meldreth Manor School has expressed an interest in having a test pit on school grounds, so we will be setting up a meeting with staff from the school to discuss the practical issues involved. We really hope we can involve this sector of our community in our project.
29th April 2013
We continued with our selection of the final sites for the test pits. Some sites will be need to be discussed in further detail with Carenza when she visits the village next week.
We selected the volunteers for the training day on 11th May. As we are limited to 20 people, we will be running an additional training session in Meldreth on Monday 3rd June.
One member attended a Digital Record training session at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. This was a free event for successful All Our Stories applicants and covered audio, film and photography.
23rd April 2013
We received the schedule for our training day on 11th May. The training will be held in Cambridge and will be run by Carenza Lewis and Paul Blinkhorn.
22nd April 2013
Today, we began deciding which pits should be dug on which weekends. As far as possible, we are trying to concentrate on particular areas of the village on each weekend. We’re very pleased with how it’s working out so far, with a good spread of locations throughout the village.
Following the offer from the U3A to do some research on our behalf, we have suggested that they may like to look at some of the manorial records on the village: it’s an area we have not yet explored but has relevance for our project. They are going to begin by looking at Flambards Manor.
12th-14th April 2013
One member attended a weekend course at Madingley Hall in Cambridge entitled Medieval Villages, Pastures and Fields. The course was run by Dr Susan Oosthuizen and was paid for from our HLF grant.
11th April 2013
The display case that we purchased on Ebay arrived this morning. We’ll be keeping a watch for any similar items which come up for sale.
8th April 2013
We held our AGM this morning. This was the first time we had held our AGM during the day and it was attended by 21 people, including committee members. Following the short formal meeting, there was a PowerPoint presentation on this project.
We a map on display (see in the gallery below) showing possible test pit locations. Final locations will be selected in the next few weeks.
7th April 2013
We successfully bid on a display case on Ebay tonight. This is the first of several cases we will be buying, funded through our grant, in which we hope to display all of the interesting artefacts we find in our digs this summer.
4th April 2013
The Royston Weekly News published a story on our launch event. They printed two photographs, so we’re very pleased with the press coverage we’ve received.
3rd April 2013
One of our members attended a course run by Jigsaw Cambridgeshire on Medieval Pottery Identification.
1st April 2013
Another article was published in Meldreth Matters, giving an update on the project for those unable to attend the launch event on 23rd March.
31st March 2013
Following the launch last week, we now have over 60 people on the mailing list for this project. We emailed or wrote to everyone to confirm the information they had put on their forms at the launch event and to check if they are interested in attending a training day. Everyone was also invited to our AGM, where we will have a short update on the project.
28th March 2013
The Royston Crow published an article on our project today and included a photograph of Carenza when she launched the project in the village hall.
26th March 2013
We issued a press release on our launch event, which was sent to the Royston Crow and the Royston Weekly News.
24th March 2013
Following yesterday’s launch, we created an Excel worksheet showing all of the volunteers, their details and availability. We’ve decided that good organisation is the key to a successful project!
23rd March 2013
The day of our official launch event. Despite a layer of snow, over 90 people filled the village hall to hear Carenza Lewis talk about the test pit project. After the talk, villagers queued up to register their interest in having a test pit in their garden or to offer to help with the project. After registering, those offering test pits placed a flag in our map (see image on 6th April, above) so that we could see the spread of proposed pits through the village.
Unfortunately, Melbourn Village College were unable to video the event. However, the event was captured for us by Tim Gane using our recently purchased HLF-funded video camera. The photograph of Carenza (below below) is a still taken from his recording.
Melbourn U3A History Group have offered to do some research for us as part of their “shared learning” project. We’re really pleased with the response to our project and the opportunity to involve different sectors of the community.
21st March 2013
Our Chairman, Joan Gane was interviewed by Melbourn Village College students for BBC News Report Day. Joan’s interview can be seen around five minutes into the report, which is available on the Melbourn Village College website.
I also had the first of several telephone interviews today with David Scott of GHK Consulting (see entry from 6th March), when I was able to report a successful start to our project.
18th March 2013
We were very pleased to welcome Valory Hurst to our meeting this morning. Valory spoke to us about the research she has done into the Avenell Way, which she believes passed right through the centre of Meldreth. Afterwards, we went on an interesting walk around the village to look at the possible route of the ancient trackway.
13th March 2013
Three Group members visited Melbourn Village College to discuss the students’ involvement in our project.
12th March 2013
I attended the Connected Communities Showcase in London to help man the Cambridge Community Heritage stand. We had a lot of interest in the community projects CCH is involved in and our archaeological “filing cabinet” of finds. More information on the event is available on the CCH blog. There is a short film that was made after the event and which features the CCH stand.
11th March 2013
Several group members travelled to the nearby village of Haslingfield to meet Mike Coles, who organised a test pit event in the village last year. The visit was invaluable and the tips Mike gave us will really help as we take our project forward.
6th March 2013
We were contacted by GHK Consulting, who have been contracted to carry out some research into the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories projects on behalf of the HLF. We have agreed to take part, so a two-page write-up of our project will be prepared, presenting our activities and achievements. We will be able to use this case study for our own needs and it will feature in the evaluation report published by the HLF.
2nd March 2013
One of our members attended a course run by Jigsaw Cambridgeshire on Prehistoric and Roman pottery identification.
1st March 2013
We had an article published in the March issue of the Melbourn Magazine.
25th February 2013
Two local groups have expressed an interest in being involved in our project: Cam Valley Detector Group and Cambridge Archaeology Field Group. We’re very grateful for all of the support that these groups can give us.
18th February 2013
Following the approach we made last month, the local Arts Development Manager came along to our usual weekly meeting to discuss the possibility of involving Melbourn Village College students in our project. Early indications are very positive and the next step will be to meet with one of the teachers at the College.
In the afternoon, two members went to the University of Cambridge to look at maps of Meldreth. There were some twentieth century maps that we hadn’t seen before and will be useful to us for this project.
16th February 2013
Three group members attended an Archives Training day which was held at Huntingdon Library. This was a free event, organised by Cambridge Community Heritage. After a tour of the record office, we were given information about medieval and early modern records. The day ended with a practical workshop, transcribing some records. I can’t say we’re fans of the secretary script but what we learned will come in very useful as we undertake research connected with our project.
9th February 2013
One of our members attended a course run by Jigsaw Cambridgeshire on Flint, Pottery and Bone Identification. Jigsaw is a Heritage Lottery Funded project which provides training, equipment and professional advice to local history and archaeology groups.
8th February 2013
The HLF acknowledgement materials arrived in time for our first event on 23rd March.
5th February 2013
We responded to a request to fill in a short questionnaire from a university student, who is undertaking a placement task given by the Heritage Lottery Fund in Cambridge to find the aspirations for a selected group of the “All Our Stories” applications.
1st February 2013
Another article appeared in Meldreth Matters giving information on the project and advance notice of our launch event on 23rd March, when Carenza Lewis will give a talk in Meldreth Village Hall.
30th January 2013
Ordered some free acknowledgement materials from the Heritage Lottery Fund: signs, badges and stickers.
28th January 2013
I’ve been invited to help Cambridge Community Heritage at the Connected Communities Showcase in London in March.
25th January 2013
We’ve begun spending our grant: the video camera and accessories we ordered earlier in the week arrived today. We’ll be using the video camera to create a digital record of our project.
24th January 2013
Two members visited the Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photography to select some aerial photographs of Meldreth for purchase. In our HLF grant application we claimed for a CD of ten digital photographs. We were able to find ten good images of the village, identifying possible sites of interest and placed our order for the CD.
23rd January 2013
We purchased a digital OS map of the village, using some of our HLF grant money. This will be really useful to us as we begin to look at specific test pit locations.
17th January 2013
Have confirmed that we will hold our first event on Saturday 23rd March at 4.00pm in Meldreth Village Hall. Dr Carenza Lewis will give a talk and officially launch the project for us.
7th January 2013
We approached the local Arts Development Manager to see if it would be possible to involve Melbourn Village College students in our project. We hope they will be able to help us create a digital record of our project by filming our activities.
1st January 2013
A review of our Tavern Gallery Exhibition appeared in the January issue of Meldreth Matters. The article also included a plug for this project.
17th December 2012
We booked places on a Historical Archives training day which has been organised by Cambridge Community Heritage.
3rd December 2012
Cambridge Community Heritage (CCH) launched an online forum for the successful All Our Stories groups. We’ve uploaded some information on our project and will be able to follow the progress made by other groups as well as downloading resources sheets provided by CCH.
1st December 2012
An article appeared in Meldreth Matters to inform villagers about the project.
29th November 2012
An article about our project appeared in the Royston Weekly News.
25th November 2012
Our Tavern Gallery exhibition finished today. We had approximately 100 visitors over the course of the four days. Already, a number of people have expressed an interest in helping with the project or in having a test pit in their garden.
23rd November 2012
Joan Gane, our Chairman was interviewed about our project on the Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast programme.
22nd November 2012
Our four-day exhibition in the Tavern Gallery in Meldreth starts today and news of the grant can finally be announced. We put up posters and information about the test pit project and had examples of metal detector finds that have been located in the village.
An article appeared in the Royston Crow with news of our grant.
Meldreth Primary School has expressed an interest in having a pit on school grounds. This would be a fantastic opportunity for us to involve the children in our project.
21st November 2012
Received our cheque from the HLF. Our Building Society account now has a very healthy balance!
17th November 2012
Two Group members attended another Cambridge Community Heritage workshop in Cambridge where we had the opportunity to chat at length with Dr Carenza Lewis about our project. We also heard from other Groups that had been successful in obtaining HLF funding. There are some interesting projects about to be launched …
16th November 2012
Found some free software online and used it to create a Gantt chart of our project. As we’re on a steep learning curve, a lot of the timings are approximate, but it will be useful to take it along to the workshop tomorrow and then we can use it throughout the project to ensure that we are completing all of the necessary tasks.
12th November 2012
Submitted our Permission to Start and Payment Request form to the HLF.
10th November 2012
Began working on our press release about the grant.
25th October 2012
Good news! Heard from the HLF that our application was successful. We’ve been awarded £7,100 to fund the digging of 20-30 test pits in Meldreth. Apparently, the fund was nine times oversubscribed, so we are very grateful to have been chosen.
31st July 2012
The support from Cambridge Community Heritage has proved invaluable over the last month or so, as we have worked on our HLF application form. We finally submitted our HLF All Our Stories grant application today, just hours before the final deadline. Decisions are due in October …
23rd June 2012
Two members of the Group attended an open day in Cambridge run by Cambridge Community Heritage. We returned very enthusiastic about doing an archaeology project in the village and decided to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for an All Our Stories grant. We were delighted to learn that Dr Carenza Lewis has agreed to work closely with us on the project should we obtain funding.
21st May 2012
Have been notified of the Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories grants and the opportunity to receive University of Cambridge support. We’ve signed up for one of two Open Days being run in Cambridge by the Cambridge Community Heritage team.