Dig the Abbey is a community archaeology project, running over two consecutive summers, where volunteers (many of them local people) are excavating the site of Polesworth Abbey alongside professional archaeologists.
I went along to a Dig the Abbey 2011 tour last summer, not knowing what to expect. I found it so interesting that I was really looking forward to going again this year & took some friends, to see what kind of new discoveries had been made. We weren’t disappointed. Despite the rain, community archaeologist Tim Upson-Smith gave us a great tour of the site and answered all of our many, many questions (they weren’t just about just about the dig at Polesworth but they did all relate to archaeology!).
Amongst other things, we saw in situ medieval floor tiles, a medieval toilet (and learned what a useful find this is!) and a vessel (on which you could see the thumbprints of the potter that crafted it) lifted from the earth just that day. We learned a little about the procedure for the discovery of human remains and how they are dated. We heard about how the discovery of some structures in the trenches has answered questions about how the Abbey would have once looked, but how the discovery of others has created yet more questions. We were made really nice cups of tea while we waited for the rain to give over a little! We were so enthralled we forgot to take any photos! Luckily, the dig has its own regularly updated website, with photographs of the finds, maps of the trenches and news reports.
We’re definitely going back again towards the end of the dig. It hardly needs to be said but, if you have an interest in history or archaeology, I highly recommend going and taking a tour yourself. It took us around 30 minutes to get there from Lichfield (but that included unintentionally taking the scenic route through Tamworth town centre!).
Tours run every day of the dig at 2.15pm (1) The final tours will be on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th of September, to coincide with the Open Heritage weekend (2). For more information, visit www.digtheabbey.co.uk
(1) Monday to Friday (until 7th September) Saturday (25th August and 1st September)
(2) Please note that the heritage weekend here in Lichfield takes place on 22nd -23rd September, to coincide with the Johnson Birthday celebrations. I don’t want to confuse anyone!