Help uncover secrets of Brede Woods

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VOLUNTEERS are needed for a groundbreaking three week archaeological dig at Brede High Woods

The Woodland Trust is offering the opportunity for more volunteers to take part in its ‘Big Dig’ archaeology project at Brede High Woods between May 15 and June 2.

Currently 75 volunteers are signed up, but the Trust hopes to have many more take part during the course of the three year project.

Since December the charity has been undertaking a programme of small-scale excavations and survey work on a medieval farmstead, an iron smelting site and the site of a hop-pickers camp, all found within the woods. The excavations and surveys are attempting to date these and other features as well as determine their use, their construction and how they relate to the Brede Furnace and other historic features in the landscape.

To date the excavations have uncovered much domestic ‘rubbish’ associated with Brede High Farm (which was demolished in 1930) and the hop-pickers camp as well as all parts of the iron-smelting process. So far no evidence has been found that positively dates these features but larger scale excavations this year and next will hopefully answer these questions.

David Bonsall, site manager for the Woodland Trust said: “We’ve already uncovered some interesting finds which are helping us learn more about the complex history of Brede and we hope that the Big Dig will unearth further forgotten relics.

“We’d really like to sign up more volunteers for the project, We have three weeks of digging planned for this summer and we’re going to be covering a lot of ground. The digs are led by professional archaeologists but you don’t need any experience at all, just plenty of enthusiasm! There will also be the opportunity to get involved in less strenuous activities following on from the excavations when we start to look at archive material to help uncover the full story of the woods and farms that once were part of a working landscape”

The project, which is part of a £50,000 funding package from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is looking for participants to take part in field work including archaeological excavation and surveying, washing and marking finds, as well as a host of support activities including archive research, photography and recording.

The project is being run for the Woodland Trust by Chris Butler Archaeological Services. For more information or to register visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/brede and click on ‘The Big Dig’. Alternatively email brede@cbasltd.co.uk or call 01323 811785.