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Bulmer: Inaugural dig in memory of archaeologist

17:10 26 May 2014

Amateur archaeologist Mick Matthews, who passed away last year.

Amateur archaeologist Mick Matthews, who passed away last year.

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A recently formed community archaeology group has dedicated its first excavation to a local archaeologist who died last year.

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Stour Valley Community Archaeology (SVCA) has just started the dig at Goldingham Hall in Bulmer, thanks to a grant of £2,500 from Dedham Vale & Stour Valley Environmental Fund via the Essex Community Foundation.

The inaugural day’s digging on Friday was dedicated to the memory of keen amateur archaeologist Mick Matthews, from Great Cornard, who took part in many excavations in the Stour Valley and particularly enjoyed metal-detecting.

In 2005, he discovered a Late Bronze Age hoard of socketed axes in Little Cornard.

After hearing about Stour Valley Community Archaeology, Mr Matthews’ widow Marilyn decided to donate her late husband’s surveying and metal-detecting tools and equipment to the group so it could be put to good use. His finds and records were given to Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service to be housed in their archive.

Mrs Matthews attended the inaugural dig on Friday. SVCA committee member Nick Moore said the donated equipment, worth thousands of pounds, meant that the heritage of Mr Matthews’ beloved Stour Valley would continue to be explored and recorded.

He added: “The thoughtfulness and generosity of Marilyn is very much appreciated by everyone involved in SVCA. The first day was dedicated to Mick and it is a joy to be able to continue his archaeological legacy. I am sure that he would have approved.”

The initial dig, which continued throughout the weekend, unearthed a ditch containing burnt ash and charcoal as well as the jaw bone of an unidentified animal, while a second ditch curving around a cobbled area contained burnt ash and clay.

Also of interest were a linear feature containing bone and pottery, a pit containing oyster shells and charcoal, and an oven which had been partially excavated before.

The community excavations will continue at the site next weekend, from May 30 to June 1, under the watchful eye of generous landowner and keen historian Ashley Cooper.

TV’s Time Team expert Dr Carenza Lewis will oversea the digs alongside Access Cambridge Archaeology, which will be lending its support.

One June 1, an “Open Day” at the site will give visitors a chance to see what the group has discovered. This will include guided tours of the site with Mr Cooper, a display of finds and an opportunity for would-be archaeologists to try their hand at the painstaking skill.

SVCA committee members will also be on hand to give information and answer any queries.

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