Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Post dig 2 - Up Wrap? Up Sum? Uphill Struggle? Something like that...

This is my last entry on the blog for the time being so I suppose it is time to do the up sum as they say on Time Team.

I will start with the archaeology which has been, in its way, spectacular. This is true of even the smallest items, such as the delightful and thought provoking piece of Trench Art which Roger reported on last night.

I won't pre-empt the interim and full report [which would offer too many hostages to fortune and be a bit of a breach of archaeological etiquette], but I can say that we have some fascinating material to report on and we have been able to hit the nail as far as a number of the research questions go.

In particular we have located a well preserved, probably multi phase WW1 AA Gun Position which is situated in a publicly accessible location and which could be presented to the public if Greenwich Council chooses to do it. If they do it would be a first.

We also have an assemblage of material [OK 1940's rubbish] from the latter half of WW2 which sheds light on the life of the Barrage Balloon site.

We have also built up a much more detailed picture of the nature of the occupation and exploitation of the landscape on the Eaglesfield site than hitherto existed. This will all go the the London Borough of Greenwich to assist them in promoting and preserving the Park for people to enjoy in the future.

Finally, we have show that by using Geophysics in conjunction with a little military know how and some technically skilled archaeology, it is possible to recover ephemeral military features such as trenches, which slipped through the Defence of Britain Project net and offers huge promise as we research 20th Century Military and Civilian sites in future.

Away from the Field Archaeology, I think we have also shown the efficacy and importance of involving the local community in such research. Just one example among many...Even after we finished work back filling and were unwinding in The Bull on Sunday evening, we were introduced to one of the local people who, not only was the son of a Captain in the local Home Guard, but was a relative of the former editor of The Daily Worker, William Rust, who wrote the first major book about the experiences of the British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. A subject which forms another strand of the Digging Dad's Army Project.

That thought just re-enforces what the Digging Dad's Army Project is all about. It is a Peoples Project about the People's War and whatever we do is on trust for the community who care about it, lived it, remember it or heard about it from those no longer with us. A particularly poignant thought as this weekend the Normandy Veterans Association held its last march past in Whitehall.

Credit where it is due...

I like to show the complexity of a modern archaeological project by crediting the people who have been facilitating the project, advising on finds and doing the sheer hard work on site. At Eaglesfield 2009 they were, in no particular order and with my grateful thanks and abject apologies to anyone I have left out...[let me know and we will add your name to the list]...

Neil Faulkner, David Thorpe, Odette Nelson, Roger Ward, Lisa Corti and family, Alison Baldry, Guy Taylor, Fiz Altinaluk, Catherine Edwards, Anna Gow, Richard Buchanan, Martin and Anne Roseveare and the team from ArchaeoPhysica [particularly Thomas], Rod Scott, Bev Bailey and Martin Brown of No Mans Land, Richard Finch, Richard Emmett, Theresa Emmett, David Gill (for coming on the last day only and helping with backfilling!), Keith Martin, Stewart Dickson, Tim Lynch, Brian M Powell, Neil [Rock] Webb, Tim Lynch, Graham Dixon, Chris Clarke, Dave Holden, Dr Richard Burt, Steve Maguire and the 10th Essex Living History Group, Chris Gosling, Kirstie Shedden and the A/S Level Archaeology Group from the Negus Sixth Form Center Plumstead Manor School [including James who came back for the rest of the week], James from Barnes, the staff and children of Plumcroft Primary School, Jeremy Shearmur, Locksley Douglas and Jonathan Bangs at the London Borough of Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces Department, Kathy Bagnall at Shrewsbury House, Martin Baker, Pip Pulfer and members of the Bexley Archaeology Group and Nick Saunders of Bristol University and Robert Whytehead and the team at the English Heritage Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service, including Mark Stevenson, the Archaeological Advisor for Greenwich.

What's Next?

As to the future, next on the DDA agenda is a Standing Buildings Course which will be held over a weekend, most likely in the Autumn, when we will be conducting a survey of surviving Air Raid Shelters in the Shooters Hill area [two previously un-recorded examples turned up while we were at Eaglesfield] and we will also be reporting on the excavations. Watch out on the Blog and The Digging Dad's Army Website, which should go live in the next month or so, with more background material and information about the excavations and the DDA Project in general. We also hope to publish versions of thse excavation reports on line.

We will also continue to Recce other sites with a view to recording them, either with the existing team, or, where appropriate as part of a Course.

From November 2nd to November 6th we will be back at Eaglesfield with ArchaeoPhysica, to carry out another Geophysics Course on behalf of Birkbeck College, looking at the other half of the Park. If you want to take part details are available from the Archaeology Desk at Birkbeck. If the results are half as good as last year it will be fascinating.

Here is the link to the Course Details


Nearer home this Saturday, 27 June 2009, ArchaePhysica are working with me on another Community Project at Shrewsbury Park, Shooters Hill, just down the road from Eaglesfield. I will be leading tours and you will see the site of another of 901 Squadron's Barrage Balloon beds and a surviving Gas Decontamination Building, as well as having the chance to try your hand at Archaeological Geophysics. It is all in the aid of The School In the Park Party, which aims to locate and celebrate the site of London's first permanent Open Air School which opened 101 years ago this July. This was a landmark in progressive, child centred education for children with special health needs and still informs education and paediatric care today.

Digging Dad's Army was a twinkle in our eye in the Museum Tavern just before Christmas, it was born in that seminar at Shrewsbury House at the beginning of March and now in June it has become a robust toddler charging off in all directions. It is certainly growing up and going places.

Thanks again to everyone who has helped along the way.

See you soon.

Andy B

Click on images for larger versions. All pictures today C Andy Brockman.

Archaeology without recording is vandalism - Richard Emmett recording the Gun Emplacement

Dr Faulkner sections the cake but will he over cut it

The Revolutionary Cardre of Back Fillers

Dr Faulkner applies the traditional Solstice Libation

The Gun Emplacement in its final excavated state

You would never know we had been there!

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