North Duffield Conservation and Local History Society
BIG SCHOOL DIG 2011
The Big School Dig was commenced in 2011 as a test-
On 23rd June 2011, three test pits were dug by the children in the school playing field under the supervision of archaeologists Jon Kenny and Hannah Baxter of York Archaeological Trust, Tony Stevens and Brian Elsey from AND.
Local charity, the Ash Duggan Committee, kindly loaned the group two gazebos and we used another one we have purchased to protect the children from the rain. Without these, the dig would have had to be cancelled.
Three classes of children from Years 4,5 and 6 took turns at alternatively digging and washing the things that they found. The classes were split so that we had one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each group was again split with half digging and half washing. Halfway through both the morning and the afternoon, the groups changed over so that those digging had a chance to wash the finds and vice versa.
The event was a great success with the children thoroughly engaged, as well as the teachers. In addition, it aroused considerable interest amongst the pupils in the younger age groups at playtime.
Following a request from the Reception Class teacher, we returned to the school the following week to allow the five year-
Both these events were really successful and the Ofsted History Inspector was suitably impressed when the Society was able to compliment what he had found for himself in his visit to the school by a short presentation for him of what the Society is doing and have planned with the School for the future.
We have since returned to the school in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and on each occasion, the children have dug 3 test pits. That is a total of 15 test pits. I have recorded the position of each pit so that we do not duplicate it in different years.
Following an approach from staff at Chapel Haddlesey Primary School, Jon, Tony and myself visited the school in 2013. They had heard of the work we were doing with North Duffield and were keen to be involved. As the school is quite a small one, we only let the children dig two test pits, but, once again, the children really enjoyed the experience although we did not find very much of interest. Despite several attempts since then, I have been unable to set up a return visit.
Nevertheless, our visit to Chapel Haddlesey prompted the Head Teacher from Camblesforth Primary School to get in touch to invite us to their school. Firstly, two bus-
Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Big School Dig did not place in 2016 but, for 2017, has been reinstated.
On Thursday 15th June 2017, the children dug the usual three test pits in their playing field overseen by Bob Wells and myself and joined later by Dr Jon Kenny. It is becoming increasingly difficult to select the area for excavation as these three bring the total over the years from 2011 to 18 test pits. (Please see plan mentioned below for position of the pits)
The children were wonderfully engaged and enthusiastic throughout the day-
Once again they found Roman pottery, Norman pottery and pottery from the mid to later Medieval periods as well as more modern potsherds. These ‘finds’ confirm our understanding that the continuous occupation of our village settlement, on this evidence, extends from approximately the later 4thC AD to the present time-
The children should be proud of their contribution to the archaeological investigation that the Society is currently conducting.
One of my greatest wishes is that at least one local school child will become an archaeologist: one such child has emerged this year so we wish her the best of luck and look forward to hearing of her qualification in the future.
The children washing the items they found in the Dig