On May 21st children, from St.Edmund's Primary School, Hoxne, excavated two test pits on the village green under the direction and supervision of Duncan Allan, outreach archaeologist from Suffolk County Council.
The event was funded by the Hoxne Heritage Group as part of the 'Story of Hoxne' project which was funded originally by the Heritage Lottery Fund's All Our Stories programme. The aims of the project are to research the origins, development and continuity of settlement in Hoxne and also to inspire our children to learn about, and take ownership of their heritage to safeguard it for future generations.
Prior to the test pit excavations Duncan Allan, the outreach archaeologist, talked to the children in the classroom.
He explained what an archaeologist is and does, which is different from a palaeontologist - the latter dealing with fossils.
He explained what would happen at the dig by giving an example of another excavation he had been involved with recently. On that occasion he was excavating a site adjacent to a monastery where an adjoining building had burnt down many years ago. At all times Duncan challenged the children to explain what they would expect to find and then, when shown what was found, he asked them to comment. They were fully engaged in the exercise and came up with some very intelligent and impressive answers. It transpired that the burnt-down building was built over the monastery cemetery and the excavation unearthed two skeletons.
The enthusiasm of the children was at bursting point by now and they were raring to go and dig - especially for skeletons! At this point Duncan stopped talking and the children piled into the minibus for their archaeology adventure.
Two sites were selected on the village green. A metre square was marked out for each test pit and the turf was removed.
The children carefully dug out the soil, checking for any artefacts. They then sieved the soil, checking what remained.
The children unearthed a rich variety of artefacts including C14th glass, glazed medieval pottery, animal bones and teeth, a Victorian button and much more yet to be identified. The village green was the site of a weekly market as long ago as 1066 and in C18th cattle fairs were held there, with cattle coming from as far away as Scotland. The evidence found today was in accordance with our expectations.
The test pits were then refilled with soil, the turf replaced on top, and the site left as if they had not been there at all - well almost!
The excitement and enthusiasm was almost tangible and many of the children are now pressing their parents to participate in the main community dig around the village which will take place between July 6th - 8th.
Photographs supplied by Liz Waugh McManus.