The community of Bere Alston, on the Devon bank of the Tamar Valley, united over the weekend to find out what has been buried deep within their village.
30 people from Bere Alston village joined forces to dig gardens, and the school field as part of an archaeology project through Cordiale* (part of the Tamar Valley AONB’s work). The event was planned to coincide with the Festival of British Archaeology.
Under the watchful eye of archaeologists and experts, including Dr Chris Smart, University of Exeter, the volunteers dug 1 metre square test pits in their gardens, while a dozen others set to work in other areas of the village to see what they could find.
It was hoped that we would find evidence of the medieval history of Bere Alston, thought to be the earliest planned mining settlement in the country, but mainly volunteers happily unearthed evidence of Victorian life in the village. An early 19th century cobbled courtyard, the remains of the wall of a donkey shed and, most excitingly, a piece of early Bronze Age pottery were the highlights of the weekend.
The weekend was a massive success, thanks to the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the expertise of the archaeologist. One of the volunteers described their experience as ‘a dream come true, please do some more!’
Sam Barnes, Project Officer for the Tamar Valley AONB team, explains why this weekend has been so important; “Knowing what makes this area special will help to inform management decisions to protect our assets, and sustainably encourage the landscape and settlement to develop into the future”.
She continues; “I am delighted with the support, involvement & enthusiasm from the local community this weekend. Chris will be returning soon to deliver the results of the test pits once they have been analysed; keep an eye on our website and ‘like’ us on Facebook to find out when this will happen”.
*This work is part of the EU-funded project ‘Cordiale’ – selected under the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England, and co-funded by the ERDF.