Digging for Erlestoke – a community dig with a difference

Careful turf clearance of a test pit, trowelling in the earth ©Wessex Archaeology

The men have been involved in all the different phases including researching the site history, learning how to do risk assessments, and taking part in the ground penetrating radar surveys with our geophysicists.  
Ecological habitat sessions run by FiveRivers and Dipper Ecology enabled the men to find out more about the local flora and fauna and the men made bird and bat boxes to go up around the prison site.  

In September 2023 a group of 8 men, supported by archaeologists Lee, Steve and Eva, conducted test pitting over four weeks. The keen eyed excavators worked together and independently and impressed our team of archaeologists with their determination and ability to quickly assimilate new skills.  By the end of the test pitting phase the men were confident marking out and carefully digging test pits, able to select and use appropriate tools, recognised changes in stratigraphy, recorded plans of the test-pits and carried out initial identification of finds and processing. 

Commenting on what it has meant to be involved one of the men said, ‘It has been really interesting learning about the different artefacts and the processes around finding them. When I was taking part in the actual dig it really felt like a treasure hunt and the more items we uncovered the more we wanted to dig for more. I also enjoyed working with a variety of different people who treated me like just another work colleague rather than a prisoner and for that I am really grateful.” 

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