Pupils take part in archaeological digs

PUPILS from a host of Essex schools were getting their hands dirty yesterday as they took part in a series of archaeology digs with some experts.Year 10 students from five schools across north Essex were uncovering all sorts of ancient items as they carried out a series of digs in the gardens of residents who had opened them up to the visitors.

PUPILS from a host of Essex schools were getting their hands dirty yesterday as they took part in a series of archaeology digs with some experts.

Year 10 students from five schools across north Essex were uncovering all sorts of ancient items as they carried out a series of digs in the gardens of residents who had opened them up to the visitors.

Clacton County high School, Manningtree High School, Sir Thomas Lord Audley School, from Colchester, The Plume School, from Maldon, and Passmores School, from Harlow, all sent youngsters to West Mersea yesterday as part of the project.

Carenza Lewis, a familiar face from Channel 4's Time Team, has linked up with Aimhigher, an organisation based at the University of Essex, to run the Higher Education field academies.


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She said: “Archaeology is a great vehicle for making pupils aware of the opportunities offered by studying at university level.

“It captures people's imagination, covers many academic subject areas and can make learning about history and the environment truly exciting.”

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On hand to examine the finds was medieval pottery expert Paul Blinkhorn, a fellow archaeologist and occasional Time Team member, who said the work had been turning up some rather interesting discoveries.

He said: “They (the pupils) seem to really enjoy it - the more they find the more into it they get.

“We've got a real mixture of stuff, from late bronze-age/early iron-age bits to a few Roman tiles. We know there's a Roman villa on the island.”

Aimhigher is a Government-funded initiative aimed at drawing a more diverse range of young people into Higher Education, and assistant co-ordinator for Essex, Rachel Brown, said these digs were a great example of their work.

She said: “It's hands-on and gets them out of the classroom and do higher-level work and realise it's within their grasp.

“They've been absolutely fantastic - they've all worked very hard. The students are working in teams of four, two from each school, so they're mixing with other children they don't know.”

She also had thanks for the members of the public who welcomed the youngsters into their gardens.

She added: “Basically, all of the test areas are in residents' gardens who have kindly allowed us in. They are people who want to find out more about their gardens too, so it's a good opportunity for them.”

The pupils will now spend a follow-up day at the University of Cambridge where they will learn more about the results of their findings.

elliot.furniss@eadt.co.uk

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