Residents back archaeological project for town

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A plan to stage an extensive community archaeology dig in Sudbury has been backed by residents.

A talk by Cambridge University archaeologist Carenza Lewis at St Peter’s on Wednesday led to 40 people volunteering their back gardens as sites for test pits.

The main aim will be to unearth pieces of broken pottery discarded over the centuries. These can reveal successive occupations of the site, Dr Lewis explained.

She will supervise Sudbury’s Dig for History project planned for October 4 and 5 next year.

The archaeologist has already led community digs around the area, and rates Sudbury as being particularly interesting.

Previous projects have enabled Dr Lewis’ team to suggest that Clare was badly affected by the black death.

“It is staggering what turns up in these pits – even in the newest housing area they can produce most interesting finds,” said Dr Lewis, who is well known for her appearances in TV programmes such as Time Team and Michael Woods’ History of England series.

The emphasis in community digs is on involving all ages, including families and young children.

Metre-square pits are dug in 10 cm layers, the spoil sieved and finds recorded. The maximum depth for a pit is set at just over one metre.

“A community dig on this scale will be expensive but there will not be any financial liability for those who provide sites,” said David Burnett who will be co-ordinating the scheme.

As vice-chairman of the Sudbury Society, Mr Burnett is looking for offers of support to meet the costs.

These include using professionals to supervise excavations, plus an extensive range of backroom experts to identify and date finds.