This Autumn, Earth Trust is embarking on five months of excavations ahead of its Gateway project to develop visitor facilities. It will be working with archaeologists, DigVentures, throughout November 2019 to March 2020.
Earth Trust looks after and cares for 500 hectares of farmland, woodland and wetland. Standing proud above this farmed landscape is one of Oxfordshire’s most visited places – the Wittenham Clumps. One of these hills is an ancient Iron Age Hillfort which is a scheduled ancient monument. A series of investigations across the Earth Trust visitor centre location hopes to add fresh evidence to the stories and lives of our ancestors who settled, lived and worked there.
“Earth Trust’s land is rich in fascinating archaeology. These new excavations will give us a chance to find out much more about the people who built the impressive Iron Age hillfort at Wittenham Clumps, by investigating other areas of occupation nearby,” says Lisa Westcott Wilkins, co-founder of DigVentures.
Previous investigations uncovered evidence that people lived on this land during the Bronze Age and through the Iron Age. During last years’ excavations, archaeologists from DigVentures unearthed several large, ancient pits, one of which contained several almost complete pots, thought to have been placed there by their owners over 2000 years ago.
According to Chris Casswell, DigVentures’ Head of Fieldwork, the pits had been used during the Middle Iron Age, between 400 and 100 BC.
”Some of the pits were probably used as underground storage areas, and may have originally been up to two metres deep. They would have been naturally cool inside, and would have been used to keep food fresher for longer – a bit like an Iron Age pantry” he said.
Jayne Manley, CEO of Earth Trust said “We are delighted to team up with DigVentures again this year and together we are planning a range of opportunities for people and school children to see the archaeological discoveries live as they are being made, and to understand more about the people who shaped the much-loved green spaces that we enjoy today. I’m excited at the prospect of learning more about the hillfort: who built it and where did they live? Was this hill fort for defence, was it a settlement or was it simply showing off? Join us on-line or in person for our biggest Archaeology Live dig!”
From November 2019 to February 2020, Earth Trust will be hosting a series of events for visitors to get involved, from regular site tours to sessions in the ‘finds labs’ handling artefacts freshly recovered from the excavation. The events will conclude in March with a community dig. All will enable visitors to see the archaeologists in action and perhaps even witness finds being uncovered. School children will also be able to experience this via our Ancient Britain workshops which will be running at dedicated times throughout the dig.
More details about the archaeology events taking place at Earth Trust this winter are available at www.earthtrust.org.uk/dig.