A storage jar- known as an 'amphora'- used for holding food and drink such as wine and olives.

Residents invited to join Exeter archaeologists in unearthing Devon's past

Budding archaeologists will have the opportunity to help unearth Devon's Roman past on a University of Exeter excavation this summer.

Members of the local community are invited to apply for one of 20 places available at the dig in Ipplepen, which takes places from Monday 6th June to Friday 1st July.

The site was originally discovered by metal detectorists Jim Wills and Dennis Hewings, who reported their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Since then, the project has gone from strength to strength and excavations have unearthed many important archaeological features, including a Roman road and an important Early Medieval cemetery. The Exeter team have also uncovered evidence of an Iron Age enclosure and indications of even earlier Bronze Age and Neolithic activity.

Professor Stephen Rippon, academic lead for the project and Early Medieval expert, said: "It’s great that we are able to return to Ipplepen again this year. We have a large number of students who are coming, and we hope that members of the local community will want to come and join us too."

Last year's excavations of the road revealed a large fragment of a huge storage jar - known as an 'amphora' - used for holding food and drink such as wine and olives. This type of amphora was made between AD 43 to AD 70 in Southern France, and may have been deliberately buried in the foundations of the road - perhaps as an offering when it was being built.

Earlier this year, archaeologists were further surprised at the radiocarbon dates from four of the excavated skeletons, which date from 6th to 8th centuries AD. The team now think the site continued in use into the Early Medieval period.

The team will host an Open Day on Saturday 25th June at the site from 10.30am to 3.30pm, for visitors to see finds and tour the excavation. Further details about the open day will be announced in June.

Devon Finds Liaison Officer, Danielle Wootton said: "We've had lots of support from the community and it's great to see that people are so interested in Devon's archaeology. Last year's open day was a huge success with around a thousand visitors coming to see the excavation. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors again on June 25th.

"We also hope that people will follow our Ipplepen Archaeological Project blog which we will be regularly updating. We'll also have an information point at the Hub in Ipplepen Methodist church during the excavation, where people will be able to drop in to find out daily information about the dig as it happens."

A donation by the late Mick Aston, of Channel 4’s Time Team, is helping to fund community work connected with the project. To donate and support the project visit the Fieldwork at Ipplepen webpages

The excavation is a partnership project between the University of Exeter, Portable Antiquities Scheme, Cotswold Archaeology, Devon County Council, and the British Museum.

Participants must enjoy working outdoors in all weathers and must commit to spending one week at the site between 6th June and 1st July. To apply, email danielle.c.wootton@exeter.ac.uk by 9am on Monday 16 May with a covering letter of no more than 200 words explaining why you would like to be considered and stating a preference for weeks 1, 2 or 3. Participants with previous experience are encouraged to apply for week 4.

The places are free but it is hoped that participants will donate towards the cost of their training and supervision, and other costs such as post-excavation analysis including radiocarbon dating.

Date: 5 May 2016

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