Throughout September and October 2015 Big Heritage's team of archaeologists undertook a community archaeology project around Blacon, just outside Chester. This involved all sorts of activities, such as digging trenches, processing and identifying finds, geophysical survey (a bit like an x-ray of the ground) and much, much more. This project is funded by Cheshire West and Chester's Public Health Team, who recognise that archaeological projects are a good source of gentle exercise and a means of tackling issues of social isolation amongst members of the community. As part of the project we monitored the health and wellbeing benefits of our participants, whilst undertaking a number of activities the results of which you can find in here: Dig Blacon Health Evaluation 2016
We focused our work around St Theresa’s School and the surrounding area, as this spot is one of the oldest parts of Blacon that we know of. It used to be home to Blacon Hall built in the 18th century and could possibly be the location of earlier settlement. We do know that the area known as Blacon was inhabited at the time of Domesday (AD 1086), as it is mentioned in this famous historical document. It notes that the inhabitants were involved in farming and fishing and that it had risen in value since the Norman Conquest in 1066 from 14 shillings to 40 shillings.
Download: Dig Blacon Test Pitting Report
The first element of Dig Blacon was a geophysical survey across playing fields in the heart of the settlement, in close proximity to Blacon Hall (for more info about the site see below). We invited the community to join us for the day, alongside geophysical specialists Magnitude Surveys. We now have the results of the survey, which you can download by following the link below and we have also produced a short film about the day.
Download Blacon Geophys Report
The project was a great success with 20 test pits excavated across the north east of Blacon. We excavated in schools and resident's back gardens amongst many other locations.
We worked with over 500 residents, members of local organisations and school pupils. Below you can see pupils for the Arches Community Primary School and St Theresa's Catholic School. We are currently compiling all the information we have gathered and turning them into a report which will be freely available here.
We had over a thousand finds from many different time periods, which have been washed and sorted by BH staff and our fab volunteers. We also organised a number of training sessions, exploring the different types of finds from the dig and what they can tell us about life in Blacon in the past.
As Big Heritage excavated with the Blacon community, we had a videographer join us for a number of dig days, finds washing and volunteer training sessions. He has put all the footage together to create a short video that gives a real sense of the project.
The practical element of the project has now been completed and we would really appreciate anyone who was involved in any way undertaking a short anonymous survey about your experience. Please click the link to be taken to the feedback survey: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/8gDXd7
If you have any questions do get in touch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the BH office on 01244 515568 and ask for Joanne.