Hole lot of history dug up – Your Valley News
Not many people would choose to spend their May Bank Holiday watching a hole being dug, unless of course the person wielding the spade was world-famous archaeologist Dr Phil Harding, assisted by Lorraine Mepham. At Salisbury Museum the crowds went to see Phil and Lorraine digging an exploratory test pit in the grounds of the museum.
The dig was part of an annual project in which Phil and Lorraine have been investigating the history of The King’s House, home to Salisbury Museum. For the past three years, the dig was on the Festival of Archaeology’s weekend in July but, due to Phil’s commitments elsewhere, the dig was moved to early May.
As part of the 40th birthday celebrations for Wessex Archaeology, the whole dig was filmed to be premiered at the Festival of Archaeology, July 13 and 14.
The specific question the digging duo were set to answer this year was: ‘how old is the wing of the museum, now the café?’ Previous surveys have suggested that it was built in the 15th century, replacing an earlier building and perhaps 200 years after the cathedral.
Digging down against the café wall, just a lot of wet mud was produced, and by lunchtime, it felt as though the dig might not provide answers. Late afternoon, a small fragment of pottery was found and instantly recognised by the expert eye of Lorraine to be early medieval, contemporary with the foundation of the cathedral itself.
Having lain undiscovered for hundreds of years the humble shard of cooking pot was cheered as it was cleaned and shown to an appreciative audience, providing a link to someone who may have witnessed construction of the iconic building. Sadly nothing was found to confirm the date of the café- a challenge for another day.
Phil and Lorraine returned to the pit on Tuesday to meet nearly 300 children from local schools keen to see archaeology in action – and meet the man in the hat from Time Team.
Having been seen by just under 900 people in two days, and many more viewers online, the dig was recorded for the archive and finally backfilled when the last school group left. To see the film, and hear how the project went, go to the Festival of Archaeology, July 13 and 14, at Salisbury Museum.
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