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‘How to be an Archaeologist’ Dig

More than 400 years of history unearthed in archaeological dig

A selection of pupils from years 4 and 5 took part in an exciting archaeological dig within the school grounds as part of a History curriculum enrichment initiative, kindly supported by Emily Wapshott, a professional archaeologist, who lives in Great Torrington.

Emily introduced the children to techniques involved in a professional dig and guided them to make accurate recordings and observations of finds across the week. Three test pits, each one metre square were dug in the Forest School site, which sits just within the boundary of what was once Torrington Castle’s famous gardens, each of which was carefully explored by pupils keen to unearth lost treasures!

Despite heavy rain and lots of sticky clay soil, the children were enthusiastic in their efforts, working well together to unearth a selection of finds which have provided a story of life in Torrington across more than a 400 year period. The earliest finds of pottery included a jug handle and also a base of a cup or shallow bowl from the later 16th century, some smoke-blackened kitchenwares of the 17th century and typical 18th and 19th century North Devon ware. The children also uncovered some some Victorian porcelain, cream-glazed ware and various glass bottle fragments. These finds have really helped to illustrate the range of domestic activity taking place in the town. The children also discovered an interesting range of evidence to illustrate a range of more industrial activities, including an interesting shard of glazed decorative roof tile, a fragment of lead window glass, chunks of lime mortar, metal tacks, handmade nails and some iron slag.

Wayne Bennett, Teacher and History Coordinator at Bluecoat Primary School explained:

“It’s proved a tremendous opportunity for the children to get some hands on experience under the skilful guidance of Emily. She has enthused everyone about the history of our town and shown how we can all get involved in bringing our history to life. What a great week!”

Emily kindly donated her time to the project as part of her work for non-profit organisation, ‘Archaeologists Engage’, which aims to promote greater engagement between professionals and local communities.