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by janet on 11 July 2020

2017 Walkern Gallery test pit 01To someone with an interest in physical history there is nothing more exciting or rewarding than searching through the ground under our feet in order to find clues and evidence from our sometimes very distant past. Flakes of worked flint (debitage) where workers from thousands of years ago left evidence of the manufacture of their tools, tiles that have slipped from the roof of a Roman dwelling, or maybe a hairpin that fell from the hair of an ancient Briton.

In 2017 it was decided that the History Society would undertake archaeological test pit digs at various locations around the village to discover possible artefacts that would give more of an understanding about Walkern’s  past – its formation, occupation and activity. 2017 06 11 Walkern school test pit 05The digs were to be overseen by a professional Archaeologist, Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews (left) and undertaken by volunteers from our Society and wider community.

A test pit consists of a 1 metre square hole. The turf is carefully lifted and set aside. The soil is then scraped away using hand trowels to a depth of 10 cm, the soil is then sieved, and all finds lifted and cleaned. The 10 cm removed is known as a ‘spit’. The first spit is then recorded and photographed before moving on to dig the next 10 cm spit. The procedure is again repeated and more spits are removed to a maximum of 1 metre or when ‘natural’ geology is reached. At the conclusion the hole is back filled and the turf replaced. Within a short period of time the grass will recover.

Roman dove1The first dig was carried out in May of 2017 on land at the rear of the United Reformed Church and produced many interesting finds. Up to 2020, thirteen digs have been completed, mostly in gardens, and a huge number of materials have been recovered, cleaned, recorded and safely stored. The Society have artefacts and materials dating from the Paleolithic period (pre 1100 BC), right through to modern times, with a huge collection of brick and tile building materials. The society has all of the necessary equipment to undertake these digs in a safe and professional manner.

Right: A Romano-British copper alloy figure
of a dove, 100-300 AD. Found in Walkern

We will continue with the digs once a month throughout the spring and summer months and everybody is welcome to become involved with any aspect. This could be digging, sieving, washing or recording, all of which are undertaken in a friendly community spirit.

We are always looking for suitable sites, so if anyone would like a test pit dug on their property to discover what fascinating history might be lying under their feet we are more than happy to send someone along to make an assessment.

For more info please contact Dave by email cruiser191s@gmail.com or phone 01438 861641

Click below for photos of some of our test pit digs and finds

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