A Managing a Masterpiece dig has taken place over the last week (June 2012) in the village of Bures on a piece of land recently purchased by the local community to protect it from development. The excavation was run by Carenza Lewis and her team of archaeologists from Access Cambridge Archaeology. The excavation involved upwards of 45 volunteers a day during the dig itself and had over 400 visitors during the week of excavations.
The project started on the 25th of June 2012 with discussions between Leigh Alston (Buildings Historian and key local contact), our friends David and Eileen Black (from Colchester Archaeological Group Geophysics) and Carenza, regarding where the trenches should be located on the common. The de-turfing of the trenches was a breeze this time with the kind help of Dennis Ambrose from Bevills Estate and his excavator driver Ken Sycamore.
Using an excavator meant that by the time the first of the volunteers arrived at midday the trenchers were already open in need of a good clean up. Our first thirty super keen volunteers cracked on straight away and by the end of the day trenches one and two were cleaned up and going deeper.
On the second day we put in another trench, this time using the excavator to go deep as quickly as possible so we could get an idea of what was going on. This of course meant that the trench tended to be on the wet side and however that didn't daunt the volunteers in the slightest. We eventually had to step this trench out due to it getting very deep indeed, but it did give a good idea of how the site had changed over time and was therefore a very important piece of the excavation.
The first trench (supervised by Jess Rippengal), was located right next to the road and was always going to be awkward due to the proximity. However given that it was right next to the road it received almost constant visitors. People were driving past, pulling up down the road and wandering back for a better look. We also had all the foot traffic from Bures walking past each day and stopping for an update. We even had a passing police car stop and enquire as to what was going on...
We had so many visitors each day that the site became a hive of activity in Bures. The kids from Bures primary came down each day with their teachers and family members to have a go at doing some archaeology first hand. Everyone really enjoyed them selves and the tours, which were being managed by Clem Cooper, who worked so hard all week managing the school groups as well as everything else.
We opened up a number of one metre test pits across the village as well as some in close proximity to the main excavation. We were really impressed with how many offers of places to site test pits we got, one was even inside someone's house... Obviously, Leigh Alston was in charge of this side of the dig and had done a great job of sorting out locations for the students from Great Cornard Technology College to get to work on the test pitting. In all we had some 23 students and staff with us from Tuesday to Friday.
On the Thursday night before the last day we to the opportunity to get everyone together for sausages and roast potatoes at the Eight Bells across the road. I was nice to have a chance to get round and chat to people out of the trenches when we can all relax with a pint and a full stomach. It is also nice to have the chance to thank everyone for coming along and making it such a special week. A huge thank you goes out everyone who took the time to get involved with the excavations and those who came along to visit. Projects like this don't work without the support of the local people and the wider community.
A heart felt thank you goes out to the whole community in Bures who made this such a special event for us to run. Special thanks go to Leigh Alston, David and Eileen Black from CAG, Dennis Ambrose of Bevills Estate and Ken Sycamore, the Bures Village Deli which kept most of us fed, the Eight Bells for providing us with facilities, beer and a lovely final meal for everyone and the local church St. Mary's for letting us take pictures from the roof of the tower. A big thank you also goes out to Neil and CJ across the road from the excavation who gave us hot water three times a day for the teas and coffee, we would have been lost without you.
And of course Managing a Masterpiece are very grateful to Carenza Lewes and the team from Access Cambridge Archaeology (Clemency Cooper, Catherine Ranson, Jessica Rippengal) for organising a first rate community event. If you would like to know more about the results of the excavations at Bures, all the reports and data will be made available on the Access Cambridge Archaeology website, here.