Saffron Walden schoolchildren to take part in historic Common dig

Saffron Walden Common

Saffron Walden Common - Credit: Archant

SCHOOLCHILDREN from Uttlesford are joining forces with archaeologists from the University of Cambridge to take part in an archaeological dig on Saffron Walden Common.

A geophysics image of the proposed dig site on Saffron Walden Common

A geophysics image of the proposed dig site on Saffron Walden Common - Credit: Archant

The week-long dig will commence on Monday July 22 under the direction of Dr Carenza Lewis from Access Cambridge Archaeology at the university.

It will be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s All Our Stories programme and Access Cambridge Archaeology, which is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The dig is being co-ordinated by Saffron Walden Museum with the support of Saffron Walden Town Council.

Archaeologists and their student assistants are looking for part of the outer bailey ditch from the town’s Norman castle, which is thought to run under the Common’s north-west corner.

A geophysical survey of the site was carried out in May and June using ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry by Dr Tim Dennis, Ralph Potter and museum volunteers.

The archaeologists are keen to investigate some of the mysterious buried features detected by the survey, but until they start digging they cannot be sure what they will uncover.

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Saffron Walden mayor Keith Eden said he was “delighted” to give permission for the dig to take place.

He said: “Residents have huge interest in their wonderful town’s past and we look forward to the dig team making some exciting finds.”

Students from Saffron Walden County High School and Newport Free Grammar School are taking part in the dig.

Newport’s head of History, Colin Almond, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students. We are thoroughly looking forward to the week and appreciate the chance to discover more about our fascinating local history.”

The project fulfils a long-held ambition for museum curator Carolyn Wingfield, who said: “The museum wanted to provide more practical opportunities for students to get involved in archaeology and to further our knowledge of the Castle and the town’s history.

“The combination of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the professional expertise of Access Cambridge Archaeology will enable us to do just that.”

Members of the public will be able to watch the dig from July 22 and follow its progress on the project’s blog at

There will be a daily update at around 3.30pm at the dig site on the common.

Archaeologists will take any finds away for further analysis and on Saturday September 14 there will be a public event in the museum and castle grounds to share the results of the dig and celebrate the castle’s history.