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Fenland archaeologists hope to solve mystery behind Wisbech moat

Members of Fenarch in action in West Drove
Members of Fenarch in action in West Drove

Archaeologists hope they are close to solving a centuries old mystery.

Members of Fenland Archaeology Society (Fenarch) are investigating a moated site in West Drove, Wisbech.

But it is unclear what the site was used for after digs have brought up rubble and rare games but no foundations of a homestead.

Members are hoping that the answer may lie in geophysical surveys which are being conducted on the site over the next week.

Treasurer Chris Green says one theory is that wooden homes were built on the site.

She said: “Hopefully the geophys will solve the mystery. It is something we may never get to the bottom of but hopefully it will take us further and explain why we have brick work there but no foundations for a substantial building.

“Every time we dig, we get brick coming up but we can’t figure it out.”

The moat may have been used to keep animals within the site or bring water for brick building.

There is also evidence of a drove.

While the site has not given up all of its secrets, the four digs have yielded some results with animal bones, which show the residents were eating well.

Pottery and metal items have been found, along with a rare game called Nine Men’s Morris.

Mrs Green said: “It was exciting to find that.

“I think they had some kind of building there and I think people were living there, eating there and using it.”

The society has also uncovered a Roman settlement in Wisbech St Mary after a farmer had begun to dig up pottery.

A recent dig has uncovered coins, pin brooches and other items.

Mrs Green said: “Roman activity in the Fens is not really known as a lot of the area would have been under water. If they had not been farming sometimes they were making salt.

“We are still working through the report.”

The society, which was founded in the late 1990s after a dig at the Castle, is also looking at an Iron Age site in March and hopes to investigate a 17th century colony in Manea.

Fenarch is hoping to attract another 15 to 20 new people to join its ranks.

It meets on the second Tuesday of each month in Mendis, Market Place, Wisbech, for interesting talks but also holds a number of digs during the year. Training is given.

The group is also looking for fresh land in the Fenland area to hold digs on.

Fenarch receives support from the Jigsaw Cambridgeshire project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery.

This five-year project assists history and archaeological societies in research, excavation, artefact identification and recording

For more information contact Mrs Green by emailing christinegreen53@yahoo.co.uk

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