Schoolchildren find bricks, tiles and pottery in archaeological dig

Children from Newick Primary School have been taking part in an archaeological dig.

Experts have taught them to dig, measure, sieve, wash, sort, process and photograph their finds.

Next the professionals will produce a report about discoveries made and put them into historical context.

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Archaeologists from Newick Primary School pose for a photograph after a break from work.

The idea for the dig came from archaeologist Simon Stevens, a parent at the school.

A field was offered for excavation by governor Mrs Sclater and her husband, and sponsorship and donations from parents, Newick Parish Council, the Newick School Association and local businesses made the idea viable.

Mr Stevens bought trowels to help with more delicate excavations, established a ‘finds’ base, brought in toilets and most importantly recruited archaeologists and technical people to help.

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Chris, Gemima, and Nancy show off some of the finds from the archaeological dig.

The field selected was Stiances on the outskirts of the village where there was known to be a cottage, thought to date back to medieval times, on the site as late as 1902 but which probably disappeared the following year.

The children explored the landscape and dug and investigated trial pits along the route of what was thought to be a road leading to the cottage.

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Aaron and Percy have spotted a tile in one of the trial pits during the archaeological dig and will add it to their bucket of finds.

Mr Stevens said it was previously thought that the cottage was destroyed by fire but the children’s investigations disproved that and it looked as if the isolated farm cottage had simply been demolished with people reclaiming anything useful afterwards, such as doors and windows.

The young archaeologists unearthed bricks and tiles, mortar, and evidence of coal fires. They even found pieces of a hand-painted plate or bowl.

All seven classes had the chance to take part in the dig and it was the turn of Year 6 and their reception class buddies on Friday when Uckfield News visited.

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Nathan sifts soil from one of the trial pits hoping for an interesting find.

On Saturday there was an open day at the site so parents and friends could see what had been happening.

Year 6 teacher Hazel Clark said it wasn’t just the dig that was important but what it represented … the strength of the school’s community links.

“It is a testament to the school parent relationships, community relationships and church involvement,” she said.

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Children gather around to look at old maps to see what they can learn about the field they are investigating.

“We’re really trying to encourage children to have values in school and you can’t teach that in a prescriptive way.

“Experience and example are important, and here they are learning about teamwork, about respect for the local environment, history and an understanding of community support.”

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Archaeologist Gemma Ward walks children around the field and points out where an old road would have crossed it.

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Surveyor John Cook is using a constellation of satellites to accurately map the sites of trial pits dug by children from Newick Primary School during their archaeological dig.

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