The Project: 2012

The curious herd of Soay sheep at Flag Fen will keep watchful eyes on the archaeologists! Soays are an ancient breed with their roots in the Bronze Age.

The 2012 fieldwork season can best be described as an evaluation – a chance to take stock of the site archive, and assess through targeted excavation precisely how much the site has deteriorated since its last investigation.

If we are successful in funding this season’s essential work, the results will be used to develop a major five-year project design, encompassing research and excavation. This season’s work is therefore the first phase in what we are hoping will be a four-phase programme, designed to ensure the site lives up to its future research potential.

Our research design for this season is being developed in consultation with Vivacity and a project management group, and is based on the three core principles underlying our ‘Flag Fen Lives’ project:

  • To bring the Flag Fen Archaeology Park to life by making live excavation the beating pulse of the visitor experience whilst building a new global online audience.
  • To provide detailed scientific information on the preservation environment at Flag Fen to assess the long-term sustainability and life of the monument in the face of drainage, farming and development impacts.
  • To understand the past lives of the people who inhabited the Flag Fen basin – how their social identity (aspects such as status, kinship, ethnicity or gender) may have been influenced by living and working in such a dynamic landscape, and how this in turn conditioned their response to long-term environmental change.

These principles have been refined into much more specific project aims and objectives for this season’s work. We will use a number of different archaeological techniques to fulfill these objectives, such as:

  • An auger survey, to define the edge of the Flag Fen timber platform
  • Test pits, to assess the condition of the waterlogged wood and the impact of de-watering
  • Evaluation trenches, to define the profile and location of the edge of Northey Island and establish a coherent deposit model
  • GPS survey, to map all previously excavated features and trenches into a new site plan
  • GIS archive digitisation, to digitally enhance the plans and drawings that were saved from the museum fire in January 2000
  • Palaeoenvironmental sampling and on-site processing, to assess the potential for a multi-disciplinary palaeoenvironmental research strategy.

If you are new to archaeology, don’t worry if you don’t immediately understand  the technical details of all this. Whether you’re digging with us for a day, a week or longer, we will do our best to explain the background reasoning to everything we do, as well as teach the basic archaeological skills you will need to work on site. You will be contributing both funds and hands-on support to archaeologists undertaking a genuine, internationally important  research project.

A huge thanks to Vivacity! Flag Fen is now managed by Vivacity, an independent, not-for-profit organisation with charitable status that manages many of Peterborough’s most popular culture and leisure facilities on behalf of Peterborough City Council (