Day one of Lustleigh’s Parishscapes-funded community archaeology dig got off to a flying start. Members of Lustleigh Parish worked alongside Mark and Johnnie from Oakford Archaeology, members of the East Dartmoor NNR History Hunters team, National Park archaeologist Andy Crabb and MTMTE Community Heritage Officer Emma Stockley.
The trench one team!
The excavation site, an abandoned post-medieval farmstead, is located in the beautiful Bovey Valley, set amongst ancient woodland alongside the Becka Brook. Before any digging began, the walk to the site revealed a host of natural treasures, as pointed out by East Dartmoor NNR Reserve Manager Albert Knott. These included a sanicle and a stunning yellow archangel, which are indicators of ancient woodland and a resting brimstone butterfly.
Natural treasures – these plants are associated with ancient woodland
Once all the equipment had arrived on-site, and after setting up the all-important tea-station (camping stove, kettle and vast quantities of biscuits and doughnuts), digging commenced in earnest with trenches being opened. Despite some tricky excavating in some very rooty and stony soil, finds soon started to emerge. Marc Steinmetzer, archaeologist from Oakford Archaeology was pleased with progress. “It’s going really well. We’ve opened three of our five trenches and some exciting finds have already come out of trench three, including two pieces of late 18th century pottery and part of an early 18th century clay pipe.”
Despite some tricky excavating, finds soon started to emerge in trench three.
Eight volunteers took part in the excavation today and others will be joining the project throughout the week, which culminates in an Open Day on Saturday. Community Heritage Officer Emma Stockley outlines what the rest of the week entails. “We’ve got a really exciting five days ahead of us including a number of school visits, an organised walk and an open day. Each day of digging will shed more light on the nature and use of this intriguing site. It’s brilliant that we have so many volunteers involved as we really couldn’t do this without their time, energy and support”.
A well earned tea break and a chance to reflect on the first day of excavation
With talk of soaking sore muscles in hot baths and gin & tonics in the evening sun, the team departed through the woods to the waiting Land Rovers, keen to return the next morning for another day of excavation.
Emma Stockley, Moor than meets the eye – Community Heritage Officer