In our May edition, we reported on a planned ‘Big Dig’ in Stamford Bridge, where over the bank holiday weekend there would be a number of test pits dug in resident’s gardens. It was hoped that interesting finds would be discovered in order to learn more about the history of the village.
Chris Rock, Chairman of the Battle of Stamford Bridge Heritage Society tells us how the weekend went, what was found and their plans for the future:
ʽOver the bank holiday weekend of May the very first Stamford Bridge ‘Big Dig’ event took place. The primary aim of the ‘Big Dig’ project is to try and understand the landscape and the human development and occupation of the village; and also a chance to find evidence of the battle in 1066. No previous large scale excavation of this type has ever been attempted, and of course it was also a chance for the village community to become involved and explore their heritage.
Day One and around 20 keen diggers got started on 8 test pits with another 6 in reserve. We erected a large marquee as a project headquarters near to the road bridge and longboat planter. We needed a place to gather and report back to, but also to act as a public information point for residents and passing visitors. It proved a great success with many people coming over to ask questions, pick up leaflets and find out what we were doing over the long weekend. We even had tourists from the United States actually getting involved and dirty with a trowel!
Day Two saw the completion of the previous day’s pits and the recording of all the archaeological data, the finds were all tagged and bagged and the gardens returned to ‘normal’. We decided to open another 2 pits on the last day of the dig which left us with another four pits to be done at a later date.
Day three saw the completion of the first phase of the project with ten test pits excavated, cleaned up, recorded, and the finds all stored ready for cleaning and investigation. A tired but very satisfied group can be proud of their achievement.
We know more about the geography of the village than we did at 10am on the Saturday morning, and we had plenty of finds to hopefully build a better picture of life in and around the village. Ok, I know you are dying to know if we found any evidence of the battle in 1066… well the optimistic answer is, ‘not yet’. We will not know that for sure until all the finds have been cleaned up. But, even if we don’t this time, we will try again next year and open another 15 pits, and so on until we do. We see this as an ongoing long term project, it may take 5 years, or even 10 years, but I am sure we will find proof one day.
What we did find were plenty of ceramics from Roman, Medieval and more modern times, but probably our star find was a Neolithic flint blade about 2cm long with its end snapped off; this pushes the human occupation back over 10,000 years ago, not bad for a first attempt from a new Society. We displayed the finds from the Big Dig at our Stamford Bridge Heritage Weekend on 27/28th June, along with photos and maps.
So, we are pretty well pleased with the excellent start to this project. The Society proved it can plan and run a serious archaeological dig, we expanded the data base on the history of the village, our members had a good time and learned new skills, the public interacted with us and gave us positive support, but most importantly, we were blessed with great weather on a bank holiday, ….what more can you ask for!ʼ
For more information on the society contact: email@example.com. www.thebattleofstamfordbridge.blogspot.com.