Pupils step back in time with archeological talk

Foster Property Maintenance visit to Alderman Payne Primary School. ANL-140404-142757001
Foster Property Maintenance visit to Alderman Payne Primary School. ANL-140404-142757001
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Children at Alderman Payne Primary School in Parson Drove learned all how the village they live in has developed through the ages, following some revealing archaeological finds on a local site.

Youngsters from years three and four listened attentively to Jemima Woolverton from Oxford Archaeology about artefacts and structural remains that a team of archaeologists have discovered at a local development site.

They found that a site of 12 houses in the village being developed by local business Foster Property Maintenance Ltd for Circle Housing Roddons had some interesting remains.

The seven to nine year olds learnt that during the first stage of the archaeological project, commissioned as part of the planning process, excavators Oxford Archeaology East discovered quite a slice of history.

The school invited Jemima Woolverton (Oxford Archaeology) to explain to the students the different periods in the archaeological time line and how the village evolved during this, tying in with the archaeological investigation on the new build development.

The earliest sign of occupation on the site comprises a probable 12th or 13th century fen circle (corn or hay stack) within the centre of the excavation area, with a small gully around it for drainage.

They discovered how a second phase later in the 13th century and possibly continuing into the 14th century revealed beam slots and post-holes relating to a Medieval timber-framed building. The site was abandoned around the 14th century and the area probably reverted to pastoral farming until fairly recent times.

Students had the chance to try on some of the clothes that were worn by their ancestors, including some dyed blue with woad, which was grown locally until the early 20th century. The students played archaeologist with dig boxes; tables exhibited boxes filled with shredded rubber and buried artefacts from different periods.

Matt Drew, Project Manager at FPM Ltd, who organised the talk, alongside James Ellis, also from FPM Ltd, said: “We are delighted the school took up our offer of the archaeological talk. It is very fulfilling knowing that not only are we helping the local community by providing much needed new homes but that we can also bring something new to the local children to show how their village evolved.”

Circle Housing Regional Operations Director Christopher Smith said: “When Circle Housing Roddons formed in 2007, we promised to invest in new homes. The new homes at Parsons Drove are part of our commitment to building new and affordable homes in Fenland.”

Jo Mills (Y3/4 teacher) said: “It was wonderful for the children to have a visitor who has been involved in such exciting discovery work in their village. The lively and informative session gave the children a flavour of what it is like to find out about history through archaeological excavation.”