Earth Trust is proud guardian to some of Oxfordshire’s most visited ancient monuments, the Wittenham Clumps.

The Earth Trust centre sits at the bottom of the Wittenham Clumps hillfort, which dates back to the Iron Age. The unique site is at the heart of the environmental charity’s working farm. Previous investigations here have revealed evidence of Bronze Age, Iron Age, and medieval settlement, as well as several unusual Roman discoveries, including a raven shrouded in silk. The site was also featured on Time Team (S11 – E09).

Now, a new investigation lead by archaeologists from DigVentures will take place downslope, as the first stage of an exciting new project to improve visitor facilities at Earth Trust.

“Earth Trust is looks after 500 hectares of natural green spaces, rich in fascinating archaeology. This excavation gives us a chance to find out much more about the people who built the impressive Iron Age hillfort at Wittenham Clumps, by investigating other areas of occupation nearby,” says Lisa Westcott Wilkins, co-founder of DigVentures.

“Although we don’t yet know exactly what we’ll find, a geophysical survey has already revealed what look like a number of Iron Age roundhouses and Roman buildings close to where we’ll be digging. The archaeological potential here is huge. We want to share any finds we do make with as many people as possible – it’s very exciting!” adds Westcott Wilkins.

From Tuesday 16th – Sunday 28th October 2018, free daily tours running at 12:00pm and 3:00pm will enable visitors to see the archaeology being uncovered at Earth Trust, and learn more about the ancient history of one of the region’s most unique natural landscapes.

People at home will also be able to follow the excavation online, or sign up to the waitlist for an opportunity to spend a day in the Archaeologists’ Finds Room learning about artefacts freshly recovered from the excavation. There is also the opportunity to attend an evening talk at the end of the dig where guests will hear first hand from the archaeologists about their discoveries at Earth Trust.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with DigVentures to offer this experience. It is a fantastic opportunity for school children and local people to see the archaeological discoveries as they are being made, and to understand more about the people who shaped the much-loved green spaces we care for today. We look forward to welcoming visitors to experience this unique opportunity and be part of the ongoing archaeological excavation first hand.” says Naomi Douglas. Head of Communications.

More details about the archaeology events taking place at Earth Trust this October are available at earthtrust.org.uk and digventures.com.

Notes to Editors

Available for further comment:

Lisa Westcott Wilkins

lisa@digventures.com

Naomi Douglas

Naomi.Douglas@earthtrust.org.uk

About DigVentures

DigVentures is a social business that designs and delivers collaborative archaeology projects and experiences in the UK and beyond, using crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and digital technology to increase opportunities for the public to participate in archaeological research.

People can get involved with crowdfunded digs, or take part in other community excavations lead by the team. Venturers and supporters from around the world can also follow the digs live online through DigVentures website. Every object and discovery is logged live from the trenches via iPads, tablets and smartphones, making it instantly accessible from anywhere in the world.

DigVentures is a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Registered Organisation.

About Earth Trust

Earth Trust is an Environmental Learning Charity and champion of accessible green spaces. We are the proud guardian of

500 hectares of farmland, woodland, and wetland on the bank of the River Thames. We champion accessible natural green spaces and our mission is to give you the opportunity to engage with your environment through the beautiful green spaces we look after. Our mission is to give people the opportunity to engage with their environment through the beautiful green spaces we look after.

The land Earth Trust cares for is steeped in history. We strive to manage our land in a way which balances conservation, farming and public access. The farm is managed in a financially and environmentally sustainable way and showcases how farming and biodiversity can work together whilst also ensuring that these green spaces are accessible as possible to the public!

About the archaeology and redevelopment works

The Earth Trust Centre, the heart of the Earth Trust working farm, is nestled at the foot the iconic Wittenham Clumps. The Clumps are steeped in history, with Roman, Bronze Age and Iron Age evidence being found on site. The curved ramparts of Castle Hill date from the Iron Age, though archaeological work has shown that it was also a Bronze Age settlement; it is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The name Wittenham Clumps come from the ‘clumps’ of beech trees which crown both hills; these are the oldest known planted hilltop beeches in England, dating back over 300 years.

Today, Earth Trust is embarking on an exciting new project to improve visitor facilities at the heart of their working farm. The first stage of this project will see the building of a purpose built education centre, Earth Lab, which will welcome children and adults for accredited courses, skills development, school trips, birthday parties and more!

To make way for the new building we have demolished our existing storage hut that wasn’t fit for purpose. This demolition has given us access to previously un-investigated land. Although we don’t know what will be uncovered by the dig, our site is so rich in history that we want to share the experience with as many people as possible. A community excavation gives us the opportunity to do just that, helping people to understand more about the unique natural landscape we care for.

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Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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