What’s in your back garden? heads to Cornwall

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Following the success of the Bere Alston Community Dig three years ago, the Tamar Valley AONB team is heading to the Cornish side of the Valley this autumn, seeking enthusiastic volunteers who live in the village of Calstock, to get involved in an exciting community archaeology project.

Under the watchful eye of archaeologists and experts, residents are being asked to dig shallow, 1-metre-square pits in their gardens over the weekend of 7th and 8th November.

The AONB team is hoping that as many members of the local community as possible will take part and get inspired – and there will be the opportunity for people from throughout the Tamar Valley to get involved over the weekend.

Calstock’s mining, market gardening and river heritage is well known, and the discovery of a Roman Fort and evidence of even earlier settlement near St Andrew’s Church in 2007, has firmly placed Calstock on the archaeological map. The growth of the village is linked to the growth of industry and trade, and therefore most of the built heritage dates to the 19th-century, but what’s below the ground could provide evidence for settlement and movement from further back in the past.

community dig_groupIn Bere Alston, July 2012, the community unearthed a range of finds, including 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.

Sam Barnes, Project Officer for the Tamar Valley AONB, and leading the Heritage lottery supported ‘Helping Hands for Heritage’ project, says, “This event will help us learn more about the historic development of Calstock, and its place within the evolution of the distinctive landscape of the Tamar Valley, promoting its importance, special qualities and local cherished values.

Sam continues, “We can then ensure that management decisions protect what makes it special, and sustainably encourage the landscape and settlement to develop into the future”.

Dr Chris Smart, archaeologist at the University of Exeter, will be leading the event, supported by the AONB team. In 2007, Chris and his team were responsible for the discovery of the Roman Fort at Calstock and have been researching the silver mining history of the Valley for many years.

Anything that is found can be brought to the Village Hall for identification, where there will also be exhibitions from local organisations and societies throughout the weekend (Saturday 9am-3pm, Sunday 9am-5pm).

Don’t miss Chris’ introductory talk about some of his work and the reason behind the weekend’s activities, on Friday 6th November at Calstock Arts, from 7pm. Booking is essential, through the AONB office.

If you’d like to take part in the dig, but don’t have a garden, please get in touch. Or, if you don’t fancy digging but would still like to get involved in some way, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Samantha Barnes, Project Officer, Tamar Valley AONB, tel: 01822 835032, email:  sbarnes@tamarvalley.org.uk

The Tamar Valley AONB

Working with people to celebrate and support the special landscape of the Tamar Valley and its rural way of life.

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