Pupils take part in dig to find buried artefacts

Newick Primary School pupils during the archaeological dig
Newick Primary School pupils during the archaeological dig

Thanks to generous backing from the Parish Council, the Newick Village Society, and from several private individuals (and with the kind permission of John Sclater) pupils from Newick Primary School will have the opportunity to take part in an archaeological dig again this year.

Two previous seasons of work at the site in a field off Sharpsbridge Lane have revealed a wealth of material, the remains of activity in the field over thousands of years.

During the 2010 season finds included a range of pottery dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries, large quantities of brick and tile from a demolished cottage and an assortment of other artefacts, including a group of datable clay pipes and a scatter of prehistoric flintwork.

Finds of particular interest to the children included a half penny of George III (dated 1770-5), a Victorian clay marble and a heavily corroded padlock, although all finds were greeted with an infectious enthusiasm (especially pottery ‘with patterns AND writing on it’ to quote one pupil!).

In terms of academic significance, the recovery of Mesolithic flintwork dating to around 10 000 BC was of particular importance, and was entirely unexpected.

Work on the site in 2013 was hampered by poor weather, resulting in several complaints of problems with ‘hair frizz’ from a number of the adult helpers (no, I have absolutely no idea either....).

However, we were able to expand the area under investigation by test-pitting to include another area of the field.

The ‘Cottage Site’ continued to produce a range of finds reflecting the occupation of buildings in that part of the field, again dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

Finds ranged from pottery, glass and clay pipes to the bricks and tiles from demolished building(s), to more ‘personal’ artefacts such as the remains of a knife, a fork and a number of decorated buttons.

Some of the character of the interior of the building(s) was indicated by the survival of door fittings, and part of a decorative metal plate, probably from the cooking range.

Elsewhere in the field, investigation of a strangely flat area adjacent to a sunken lane (rapidly nicknamed ‘The Other Holes’ by the kids) uncovered evidence of medieval activity represented by a small assemblage of 13th to 15th century pottery.

This strongly suggests the presence of a medieval structure of some kind fronting onto the former lane.

The continued recovery of Mesolithic flintwork from across the site highlights the use of the general area by hunter/gatherers in the more remote past.

During the 2016 season of archaeological work at the site, it is hoped to investigate another possible ‘house platform’ by hand-dug test-pits as well as to continue to use this technique to investigate the cottage site.

As in 2010 and 2013, the project culminated in a public open day on Saturday May 21 between 10am and 4pm.

There were displays of the artefacts from the dig, as well as a chance to wander around the field and follow in the footsteps of prehistoric hunters and medieval farmers, and learn about a soldier killed during the First World War who lived at there as a child.