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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Budding young archaeologists at Black Cat Quarry

Young archaeologists

Children from Roxton Lower School take part in a ‘dig’ at their local sand and gravel quarry

MORE than 40 children from Roxton Lower School recently enjoyed a unique and unusual day trip, digging into the past at Hope Construction Materials’ nearby Black Cat Quarry.

With curiosity sparked by recent Roman discoveries at the site, the pupils from years 1 to 4 were invited to spend a day at the quarry, learning about archaeology, digging for their own ‘finds’, and getting a closer look at the operations at the sand and gravel site.

Explaining how the school visit came about, quarry manager Simon Bryant said: ‘Through our partner Archaeological Research Services (ARS), we have unearthed a wide range of very interesting finds including whole skeletons, pots and beakers. The experts have established that these are from Roman times. With the school so close by, we approached them to see if they might be interested to come to the quarry and find out more.’

The school brought two groups of children to the quarry over two days. First, they were given a talk about the quarry itself and the how gravel is extracted in phases. Then they were introduced to the world of archaeology and even got to see one of the recently discovered skeletons, together with a decorated Roman pot that was buried with the body. Finally, the children had a go themselves, digging test pits, sieving the soil and recording their finds of flints and pottery fragments.

Ben Dyson, who is leading the excavations for Archaeological Research Services Ltd, said: ‘Black Cat Quarry has revealed some fascinating remains including a multi-phase Roman-period farming settlement that was flooded and rebuilt on at least two occasions, together with the cemetery for these farming folk that includes at least 15 individuals.’

Roxton Lower School head teacher Jane Trott said: ‘It was an amazing opportunity for the children to experience archaeology first hand. They thoroughly enjoyed seeing the finds and then looking for their own. We were most grateful to Hope Construction Materials and ARS for all the preparation and for helping to make it fun.’

Mr Bryant added: ‘These visits were a great success – for us we were able to open our doors and show the children and staff what we do at Black Cat Quarry, helping us build a partnership with the school; for the school, it was great for the children to see history come to life in such a practical, hands-on way.’

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