Archaeology – first hand experience

The plan was a foot we were going to dig up the front garden. With permission from the chair of the Memorial Hall the school set out to plan our archaeological dig, but before we even started we got the most wonderful piece of information, we were informed that someone from the Heritage centre would be able to give us more information on what could be under out feet, information in hand we gathered our equipment and set to work carefully marking out our dig sites, metal detecting the ground surrounding the two spruce trees in front of the building marking every buzz, we assessed that our first trench would go in directly on top of our two closest buzzes, within mere minutes of clearing the few top mm of soil we would find our first piece of history a modern ½ penny dated 1971, to people reading this this may not seem that long ago but when you factor in that 1971 was 52 years ago to a child that is a long time ago.

Spurred on by our recent find the children and myself began to dig more marking each individual small find on a quadrat grid to see if we could identify a pattern of where we found most finds to see If our trench was worth extending wider or where to dig the next, by the time we had dug the hole dry of finds we had found a large amount of rusted metal, several bits of broken glass old and new, lots of bricks and stone work, some of which much older than others, lode stone slabs similar material to some of the older buildings in Henley in Arden, a Lego man’s foot, Victorian farthing in surprisingly good condition and a mysterious metal disk that looked like no coin we could identify in all the books and as many google searches as we could.

With each of our finds the children would carefully clean them with soft brushes and cloths clearing away the mud to reveal their patterns and finding out more about our ‘buried treasures’
we catalogued all the unique finds we could writing down where they were found what they were made of and what they could have been used for.

Over the next two weeks we continued to dig up the Memorial Hall garden with 3 trenches dug in total all approximately 1x1m, after digging for some time in our final trench and almost losing hope we had discovered small deposits of charcoal in the soil. This was good news! Charcoal is often a sign of human activity and Oh boy it was! Within seconds we found the remains of a huge bottle and soon after that bone after bone after bone and larger and more colourful bits of pot, we had done it we had found the remains of a historic landfill big or small we didn’t mind we had found what had been here in the past from old buildings to peoples rubbish!

Upon finishing our dig we sieved all the soil back into the trenches and sowed wildflower seeds into the loose soil, we hope to see them emerge over then next few springs brightening up the area in front of the building.

We invited the Chair of the hall Mr Duncan Bainbridge, Marijana Bainbridge and Mr Jonathan Dovey from the Heritage Centre to view our finds.
The year 6 pupils put together a  presentation, afterwards our guests viewed our finds with intrigue answering many of our questions and leaving themselves and us with many more.

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