What an excellent dig season! Thanks to the support from the hotel owners and their staff, we had a lot of ‘happy smiling people’ both in our membership as well as from the public who visited us. The archaeology was good too, prompting our hope that we can negotiate a return next year.
We owe our success to many factors- the behind-the=scenes work by trustees, the support from many others who made the dig possible and our friendly and hard-working students who were a pleasure to work with- there were so many people who supported and helped throughout the dig and they know who they are.
We are very lucky to have the support and guidance of Giles as our dig director and Will was there in the background working the links and giving us perspective in terms of what we found.
What really made turning up and taking a round trip of 50 miles a day worthwhile for me was a feeling that we were an organisation working for each other in mutual support. I enjoyed the way in which members were teaching and supporting each other and the way in which problems were solved quickly, usually by someone putting themselves out for others. It’s always a good time for me to listen to the views of those on site and how they see what we so. There’s always room for improvement, of course, but the feedback I had was overwhelmingly positive.
Maybe we were always like that but I had the feeling that we matured as an organisation this year. Just ask those who have been on other digs and you’ll find out that what we have all created together shouldn’t be taken as the norm on digs. There is a uniqueness to what we have created together and we should hang on to it.
Although I thought I’d made an error in putting in so many public visits, it became clear that our efforts were hugely appreciated and that many people who didn’t know of CRP’s existence now understand who we are and will spread the word. As well as that, the donations that they made have added a considerable boost to our coffers.
The visit of Lord Dannett was a huge success and has forged a link for the future, as did a visit from CBA East who have become interested parties in our work; CBA have been leaders in promoting community archaeology. And then, of course, there were the usual visits from our supportive professionals who were able to offer immediate advice on what we were finding. The press did us proud and the editor of Current Archaeology travelled from the south coast through bank holiday traffic- and back- to visit and report. She comes every year and told me that she likes to come because we are ‘such nice people’. Her report should come in the November issue.
So what next? Andy will be keeping you informed of the usual post- excavation activity at the barn as we clean and evaluate our finds. Judging by the state of the stuff that I saw in the trays, don’t wear your best clothes! We shall be arranging meetings in the spring for you to hear more about our deliberations as well as seeing the finds once they have been researched and cleaned. I have already rough-drafted our initial enquiry form regarding a large application for future funding which is with several people for development. Following advice from that, we shall be drafting a detailed bid over the winter months. We’d already intended to do that but I feel hugely optimistic after this summer’s dig concerning what we are able to offer to both the community and our members- and, of course. The research story.
The digging may have finished- for now- but CRP never rests. We shall continue to strengthen and develop both our own procedures and our links with the public and a range of other supportive organisations- more background work that should lead to even greater success.
Thanks to all- and let’s look optimistically to the future!