Saffron Walden castle history project celebrates �10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant

STUDENTS will get the chance to roll up their sleeves, ‘dig deep’ and unearth the history of Saffron Walden thanks to a new �10,000 grant.

Saffron Walden was one of hundreds of towns to receive an All Our Stories grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The cash will go towards ‘Telling our story: Castle bailey dig’ – a project to investigate the outer bailey defences of Walden castle and shed some light on Saffron Walden’s origins as a Norman market town.

The focus of the project will be an archaeological dig in the summer of 2013 on the common, where part of the castle’s 12th century outer bailey ditch is believed to lie buried.

A team of students from Saffron Walden County High and Newport Free Grammar Schools will get hands-on experience of excavation, under the direction of Dr Carenza Lewis, of the Cambridge Community Heritage Project, University of Cambridge. The project is being co-ordinated by Saffron Walden Museum, with the collaboration of Saffron Walden Town Council which has given permission for the excavation on the common.

Members of the public will be able to see the dig in progress and the museum plans to hold a special open day in the castle grounds next September, to present the results of the project and celebrate Saffron Walden’s medieval history.

Commenting on the HLF award, town and district councillor Keith Eden said: “This support will be the catalyst for our young to start ‘digging hard’ next summer under the wise direction of Dr Carenza Lewis and the University of Cambridge.

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“You can confidently expect the crowds to gather in July as we learn what exactly is buried on the common, be it treasures from history or even more importantly, new knowledge about life in our town in the past.”

All Our Stories, a new small grant programme, launched earlier this year in support of BBC2’s The Great British Story, has been designed as an opportunity for people to get involved in their local heritage, and it will see community groups carrying out a range of activities.

TV presenter and historian Mr Wood said: “We British love our history, and no wonder; few nations in the world, if any, have such riches on their doorstep, and so much of it is accessible to all of us.

“It is really tremendous that the people of Saffron Walden have been inspired to get involved to tell their own story and to dig deeper into their past. It’s brilliant that so many people are being given the chance to get involved through the All Our Stories grants.”

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “Clearly the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us. This is exactly what the grant will do for Saffron Walden as they embark on a real journey of discovery.”