Willingham Mere Excavation

August 9th, 2011 by Richard Irvine

Earlier this summer, some members of the network were lucky enough to visit and lend a hand at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit’s excavation at Willingham Mere, a former Fenland lake. It was an interesting demonstration of how archaeology can explore the deep history of environmental change in a particular place, and how that environmental change informs what we know about the way people lived and used the resources in an area. Local community archaeology groups and other residents from the area were involved in peeling back the layers of climate history that lie underneath the landscape we see today. Hayley Roberts, the outreach officer with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, blogged about the process of the excavation, and posted various pictures of the dig as it was happening. Members of the network may be interested in seeing this account of the work the archaeologists and volunteers have done.

The blog posts tell a fascinating story:

Days One and Two – the dig begins

Days Three and Four – an ancient landscape is emerging

Days Five and Six – an extra dimension

Days Seven and Eight – ancient mallard

Days Nine and Ten – muddy mere

Days Eleven and Twelve – the end of the dig

The land that was excavated gives us an interesting insight into changing land use: not only do we see how innundation and drainage transformed the landscape of the past, but the excavation was being carried out ahead of gravel quarrying work by Hanson – and after Hanson have extracted gravel from the site, it is planned that it will become (once again) a wetland habitat and an RSPB nature reserve.

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