Dig in Process.Photos by Phil Evans, Volunteer Photographer
We held our second ever Archaeology Day at Ilam in July and had a really successful event.The purpose of the day is twofold: firstly to let our visitors and members know how and why the Trust is involved in archaeology and just how exciting it is, and secondly to find out a little more about the archaeology of Ilam itself.
Volunteer Steve Maynard with a young Archaeologist
We had around 600 visitors come on what was a lovely sunny Sunday (apart from 20 minutes monsoon style rain in the afternoon!) and were able to put on a wide range of activities and displays of interest to all ages.The highlight for most children was the “sandpit dig”, a huge sandpit with many buried finds to dig up and find out about.They also enjoyed making their very own original cave paintings below the Italian Gardens.A short distance away we had a real dig going on with support from our Regional Archaeologist Rachael Hall, where we dug a trench across some “parch marks” in the grass and found what might be the boundary wall of the original Ilam Hall.Elsewhere volunteers were excavating the Victorian ram pump that pumped river water up to the hall for the stables and gardens.One of the most dramatic activities was iron-age style iron smelting, where using a clay stove, iron ore, charcoal and an enormous set of bellows, several kilograms of iron was produced at the end of the day.
Many thanks go to the staff and particularly the volunteers who gave up their Sunday and threw themselves with great enthusiasm into this event – their excitement and passion was infectious and really helped make the day a success.
Next year we want to make it even bigger and better!I will be trying to get funding to pay for some more specialist archaeologists like our flint knapper and medieval cook to build on our success and make this event one that even more people want to come to.