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Archaelogical Test Digs in Manuden

On the 4th and 5th April 2011 Manuden was visited by 28 secondary school students, aged between 12 and 16, from all over Essex and as far afield as Canvey Island. Under the direction of Carenza Lewis from Cambridge University Department of Archaeology, previously a member of Channel 4's Time Team, the students dug test pits in seven gardens in village. Teachers from the students' schools as well as Carenza's expert assistants supervised the operation.

The object of the exercise was not only to find out the origins of the village through unearthed artifacts but also to give the pupils a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in the event. It challenged their ability to work in teams of three or four with strangers, as the students from the various schools were mixed up. It also required them to persevere as sometimes the work was demanding and the weather inclement.

The kind householders who allowed the students to dig test pits in their garden were rewarded with a window into the history of what lay below their lawns. After the turf had been carefully removed and set upon a tarpaulin, a one metre square pit was dug and excavated, 10 cm at a time, to a depth of approximately 1m 10 or as deep as was feasible in the time allowed. The soil was sieved and the artifacts washed and removed for collection.

Some test pits were more productive than others and a lively competition arose between the students at each test pit to see who could find the most artefacts or dig the deepest pit.

At the end of the day, to the householder's relief, the soil was all returned to test pit and the turf put neatly back on the top.

The artefacts are now with Cambridge University click here to see their pottery report.

The test pits were in the following gardens: Trent House, Hill House, The Old Wall House (46 & 48 The Street), Cedar House, Manuden House and 24 The Street.

The photographs above were taken over the 2 days and more may be seen at the Access Cambridge Archaeology website.

For more information check out http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/aca/excavationreports.html.

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