FAMILIES will have the chance to see archaeology in action as a major expansion of learning facilities gets underway near Didcot.

Earth Trust is working with archaeologists, DigVentures, for the next five months to help uncover more of the history buried beneath its centre in Little Wittenham, and they are inviting people to come see the discoveries as they are made.

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It coincides with the environmental group preparing to build a new laboratory for school pupils and upgrade its education centre at the site. The trust looks after 500 hectares of farmland, woodland and wetland, including the Wittenham Clumps – one of the hills an Iron Age hill fort and scheduled ancient monument.

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A series of investigations across the Earth Trust visitor centre location are hoping to add fresh evidence to the stories and lives of these who made the land their home thousands of years ago.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins, co-founder of DigVentures, said: “Earth Trust’s land is rich in fascinating archaeology.

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"These new excavations will give us a chance to find out much more about the people who built the impressive Iron Age hill fort at Wittenham Clumps, by investigating other areas of occupation nearby."

Previous investigations uncovered evidence that people lived on the land during the Bronze Age and through the Iron Age.

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Some of the finds from last year's dig

During last years’ excavations, archaeologists from DigVentures unearthed several large, ancient pits, one of which contained several almost complete pots, thought to have been placed there by their owners over 2,000 years ago.

According to Chris Casswell, DigVentures’ head of fieldwork, the pits had been used during the Middle Iron Age, between 400 and 100 BC. He said: "Some of the pits were probably used as underground storage areas, and may have originally been up to two metres deep.

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"They would have been naturally cool inside, and would have been place to keep food fresher for longer – a bit like an Iron Age pantry.”

"It’s such a simple, but clever, technique and shows us more about everyday life in the Iron Age."

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Work gets underway by DigVentures

From November 2019 to February 2020, Earth Trust will be hosting a series of events for visitors to get involved, from regular site tours to sessions in the ‘Finds Lab’ handling artefacts freshly recovered from the excavation. The events will conclude in March with a massive community dig.

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Trust chief Jayne Manley said: “We are delighted to team up with DigVentures again this year and together we are planning a range of opportunities for people and school children to see the archaeological discoveries live as they are being made, and to understand more about the people who shaped the much-loved green spaces that we enjoy today."

More details about the archaeology events taking place are available at earthtrust.org.uk/dig.