The HLF funded “People of the Heath” project is looking for volunteers to take part in its various activities. Below is a brief description of each available opportunity, together with a form where you can indicate your interest in one or more of the activities if you’d like to volunteer.
Currently a number of the barrows are either completely or partially hidden by undergrowth and before they can be properly studied we need to clear them. For some of the monuments this will be the first opportunity we will have to determine exactly what type of barrow they are.
We will be undertaking two programmes of geophysical survey each year. The first this year took place from 26th – 29th June 2014. All our excavations will be preceded by such surveys so that we can obtain a preview of what lies below the ground. Some of the things we hope to find out will include evidence for lost ditches surrounding the barrows, signs of previous diggings into the barrows and new archaeological features or monuments. No experience is required to take part in these surveys and training will be provided.
None of the barrows on the Heath has been accurately surveyed before and so we will be undertaking a detailed survey of each one, together with an overall survey of the whole Heath. There will be opportunities as part of this to attend some demonstration sessions given by our professional surveyor of how this is done, particularly when it comes to the detailed study of the barrows, together with what new information it has yielded.
Over the course of the project six seasons of excavations will be undertaken, each three weeks long. The bulk of this excavation will be carried out by volunteers, with 16 places available each day. No previous experience is required, in fact we are keen for complete novices to come and see what it archaeology is actually like. Training in excavation techniques will be provided along with all the tools necessary. The intention is put trenches into a representative sample of the barrows on the Heath, targeting one of each type of barrow present.
In the first season, which took place from 9th – 27th September 2014, we looked at our first barrow, together with a nearby Mesolithic site.
As a vital companion to the various forms of fieldwork described above a team of documentary researchers will be getting together as complete an archive as possible of all the types of information relating to the history of the Heath from the present day to the distant past. This will include historic maps, old photos, pictures and postcards, aerial photographs, artefacts, newspaper stories and other relevant historic documents. Anyone is welcome to apply to join the team, particularly if you have an aptitude for tracking down lost or hard to find objects.
One of the key aspects of this project is to take all the information produced by the activities described above and pass it on to others. There will be lots of ways in which we do this, but for some of them we will need the help of volunteers who are willing to be trained up to help with our outreach activities to school-children and adults. Such activities will take place while the project is running, but also we hope that with your help they can continue long after the digging has stopped.