Aylsham Roman dig scoops national archaeological award
- Credit: Archant
An archaeological dig in Norfolk which involved some 200 members of the community has won a national award.
The two-week summer dig in Aylsham unearthed a pair of Roman kilns which Historic England's science advisor believes may be the best-preserved examples in Britain.
Now the Roman Aylsham Project has scooped the Marsh Archaeology Award For Community Archaeology, with a welcome £1,000 prize which will be ploughed into next year's dig, according to landowner Peter Purdy, 52.
The award, a partnership between the Marsh Christian Trust and the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), recognises research results and/or fieldwork led by community groups which 'have made a substantial contribution to knowledge and wellbeing.'
The Aylsham site lies under a field at Mr Purdy's Woodgate Nursery site, on Cawston Road. For the past 40 years he has been picking up Roman artefacts from his land, indicating the presence of a villa.
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August saw the first of planned annual community digs to uncover the site's secrets and, as well as the kilns, the year has seen some 30,000 finds recovered from the site, including about 13,000 fragments of pottery.
The dig was run by professionals Britannia Archaeology and Mr Purdy praised them for the way in which they had welcomed and helped everybody who wanted to take part, including children who were given their own site to dig.
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'It's all been done for love, not money,' said Mr Purdy. 'All I have done is share something I am lucky enough to have on my land.
'I was totally overwhelmed to win such a wonderful award in our first year.'
He also praised John Davies, chief curator and keeper of archaeology with Norfolk Museums Service, for his support, and Claire Bradshaw, county council community archaeologist who nominated the project for the award.
Mike Heyworth, CBA director, said he hoped to visit the project next summer, when a three-week dig is planned.
'It exemplifies all that's good about community archaeology - the enthusiasm of the local people and the landowner coupled with really good quality archaeology,' said Dr Heyworth.
'This national badge of honour can only help the project's credibility when it looks for funding in future.'