A Managing a Masterpiece dig has taken place over the last few weeks at the scheduled ancient monument of Mt. Bures in Essex (August 2011). The excavation was run by Carenza Lewis and her team of archaeologists from Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA). The excavation involved upwards of 70 volunteers during the dig itself and had over 160 visitors during the two weeks of excavations.
The project started on the 8th of August 2011 with over thirty super keen volunteers ready to inject some real enthusiasm into the day by getting to grips with the tasks at hand. First order of the day was to split into three teams and get de-turfing the three primary trenches of the excavation.
The first trench, trench one, was located at the top of the mount and was eventually opened out to some 40 square metres. A further two trenches were located just just down hill (east) of the mount, trench two and trench three.
Interestingly enough a real 'esprit de trench' became par for the course for the rest of the dig. There was almost constant banter on which trench was progressing fastest, which was the hardest to dig and obviously which was the best...
We had lots of visitors coming down to the site everyday and it seemed there was always someone giving a tour of the excavations. We also had a number of repeat visits, as well as friends from previous projects such as the community excavations in Clare. It was particularly nice to see the same people making the effort to come along to the sum up session at the end of each day and staying in touch with what was going on across the site.
We opened up a number of one metre test pits across the village as well as some in close proximity to the scheduled monument. A few of our volunteers were particularly keen to carry out test pitting and were sent all over the place to excavate in peoples gardens and open fields alike. We were really impressed with how many offers of places to site test pits we got, so many in fact we couldn't get round to them all.
It was really nice to see local radio stations and film companies interviewing people about the excavations and their involvement in the project. It is always a bonus to get more advertising for the Managing a Masterpiece community projects, allowing more people to get involved and encouraging more people to visit the website to find out more about what we do.
A really big bonus for all of us involved in the organisation of the project was the help the army team from Colchester gave in getting Ida McMaster to the top of the mound just in time to see the final recording of the excavation there. Ida and her daughter Pam Hailes who own the site have been so supportive of the whole project it was really great to be able to give something back.
On the last night we had BBQ and were able to give everyone our preliminary feedback on the excavations findings. If you would like to know more about the results of the excavations at Mount Bures, everything is available from the ACA website.
A huge thank you goes out to 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 to Ida and Pam who worked so hard to support and encourage the project from start to finish. Without their support this project would never have got off the ground in the first place.
A big thank you to the Alexander family for the use of their facilities, without which we would certainly have found it harder to carry out the excavation.
Also thank you to everyone who took part in the excavation in an official capacity, particularly Debbie Priddy of English Heritage and Adrian Gascoigne of Essex County Council. And finally thank you to Carenza Lewis and her team (Clemency Cooper, Catherine Ranson, Jessica Rippengal and Matt Collins) from ACA.