Community archaeology- behind the scenes. #YourArchaeology with @landbonestone

Today I am office bound. My day has started by writing up records for a project I have been conducting for the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership (Dorset AONB). Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, its objective is to engage with the local community about the archaeology of the landscape in which they live, whilst also conducting important research. We’ve called it #YourArchaeology because we want to ensure that the Historic Environment Record is relevant to those who live and work in the landscape.

Assessing the condition of strip lynchets and a quarry

I am working with local people to ‘ground-truth’ these records. Not only have we been condition assessing but also re-evaluating interpretations and discovering new sites. This has included adding types of sites that were not originally included, for example agricultural farm buildings. These are seen by local people as important landscape features but they are slowly disappearing and have not previously been recorded.

North Farm Barn; Not previously recorded in the Historic Environment Record

The team has also added rich detail to many records; for example, some sites have been dated because local participants can identify bricks made in the local brick factory. On other sites we have included folklore about their usage, and have even included some interpretations based upon dowsing results.

We had walked half way along this footpath before realising it was actually one in a series of terraces or lynchets which have become woodland. These were unknown to the historic environment record or to local people.

I also had the pleasure of speaking to a landowner this morning who is willing to allow a group of volunteers onto his land to record the details of a water meadow. Although the presence of a water meadow had been previously noted in the historic environment record, more detailed documentation will really enhance understanding of the site.

A sluice that feeds the water meadows. We are going to return to conduct a detailed survey of this feature and any others we can find.

My final job for the day has been to create a celebratory and thank you event for all the participants as #YourArchaeology comes to the end of this particular phase.