Digging Test Pits

We were very lucky to be invited to the Histon and Impington ‘Big Dig’ on May 12th. Cambridge YACs were allocated three pits to dig around the village.

It was part of a bigger project and you can read more about the Histon and Impington Archaeology Group  here

We split into three groups and found our pits which had already been started the day before so luckily we didn’t have to de- turf (the YAC leaders were very pleased about that- it is hard work!)

We started by measuring how far down it was to the top of the layer we were going to dig and drawing what we could see. We then took it in turns to carefully dig into the layers using trowels and hand shovels.

Two of the YAC members digging a test pit

 

Every bit of soil that was dug out had to be sieved carefully so all of the tiny pieces of evidence could be found.

Careful sieving took a long time

Everything we found was washed and put into a tray to dry along with a label so that the Archaeology Groups would know where it had been found.

We found animal bones, potsherds (quite a lot of blue and white willow pattern) charcoal, burnt patches and clay. Hopefully, our work will help to tell the story of Histon and Impington!

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Bartlow Hills

Today we visited Bartlow Hills- these are Roman burial mounds and are the largest Roman burial mounds in Western Europe.  Sarah and Helen were leading the meeting today and told us about them.

Sarah showing the group what some of the finds would have looked like

The mounds were excavated between 1815 and 1840 and some very impressive Roman finds were removed including large wooden chests, decorated vessels made of glass and bronze and beautiful pottery. These were all stored in a Country House which burnt down so the finds were all lost!

One of the mounds has steps up allowing us to climb up to the top

YAC members on top of one of the Roman burial mounds

After looking at Roman burial mounds we carried on thinking about memorials by visiting the church which is very close. Helen talked to us about the church and mentioned that lots of churches were built near to older sacred sites and we wondered whether the church builders chose the spot because it was close to the Roman mounds. We looked at the outside and talked about the different shaped windows and their dates.

Looking at one of the windows

Then we went inside and worked out how old different parts of the church were using some information Helen gave us.

Helen helping YAC members to date different parts of the church

There are some amazing wall paintings inside!

One of the wall paintings

To finish a great visit one of the people who looks after the church came and asked if YAC members would like to ring the bells- we all had a go and I hope the villagers weren’t too worried.

Waiting to ring one of the church bells

If you would like to visit Bartlow Hills there is a great day coming up on May 6th where you can go on walks of different lengths and find out lots more about the area. https://www.bartlow3countieswalk.co.uk/

Thanks to Finn who was the photographer today

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Egyptians

For the last few meetings, we have been learning about Ancient Egypt-some of the members know more about this than some leaders so it’s been interesting for everyone finding out more!

In January, David showed us some slides from his visit to Egypt and we were amazed to work out how big the temple at Karnak was. We went outside and measured the size of some of the columns.

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We then mummified some oranges by scooping out the insides and packing them with salt and baking power- members took these home to keep in a warm, dry place. We also had a go at writing using hieroglyphics.

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In February we went to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and visited their Egyptian galleries to look at the artefacts there.

This month (March) we made Shabtis, collars and canopic jars and wrote curses in hieroglyphics for anyone daring to disturb a mummy! We also unwrapped the oranges we mummified in January to see what they looked like now.

 

One member brought along a tomato he’d mummified three years ago!

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At the end of the meeting, we laid out all of our shabtis, jars, amulets, jewellery and curses around the mummified oranges

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The Festival of Archaeology

Wandlebury Country Park and the Cambridge Young Archaeologists’ Club are inviting visitors to discover Iron Age Wandlebury. Part of the Festival of Archaeology, the largest celebration of archaeology in the world with hundreds of events nationwide this event gives everyone the chance to try their hand at Iron Age activities and discover the evidence of one of Cambridgeshire’s largest Iron Age Hillforts.

The Cambridge Branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club is very lucky as CambridgePPF let us meet at Wandlebury Hillfort. Over the last few months, we have been thinking about what life was like in the Iron Age and have tried lots of different Iron Age activities. We have investigated, measured and drawn one of the ditches and the older members researched and planned an Iron Age Trail.  We have thought about how museums and heritage sites interpret the history of the site for different visitors and have put all of this together to plan an event to help people find out more about Wandlebury Hillfort and life in the Iron Age.

On July 15th Young Archaeologists will help visitors to make pots, weave cords, throw slingshots, create model Iron Age walls and try their hand at a sandpit excavation. A trail will take people around the Iron Age Hillfort and we hope to have a gallery of reconstruction pictures created by the Cambridge Young Archaeologists showing what Wandlebury might have looked like 2400 years ago.

The Festival of Archaeology runs between 15 and 30 July and promises something for everyone on the theme of archaeology, to find out about other local events, go to https://www.festivalofarchaeology.org/

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Planning for the Festival of Archaeology

Next month on July 15th Cambridge YAC will be running an event at Wandlebury to help visitors learn about the Iron Age there.  At our meeting on Saturday Pippa, one of the YAC leaders, talked a bit about heritage interpretation. We then split into two groups and the older members thought about what key message they wanted to get across to visitors while the younger group though about all of the different sorts of audiences for the event.

The older group then went for a walk to plan a guided tour while the other group thought about activities for children and started some reconstruction pictures for a gallery that will be on display at the event.

Planning a pot making activity

This group planned a prehistoric pot making activity, wrote a risk assessment for it and thought about materials that would be needed.

Looking at different ways to decorate pots

They also thought about collecting natural materials to decorate the pots.

Another group listened to a talk about reconstruction pictures and then created some of their own.

Painting some pictures of Wandlebury in the Iron Age

 

Come along to the event between 11 and 3 on July 15th at Wandlebury Country Park!

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