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Ipplepen 2017

National Lottery players help people become archaeologists and explore the history of the South West

National Lottery players help people become archaeologists and explore the history of the South West

People in Devon and Cornwall will work with archaeologists to explore the incredible ancient history of the South West thanks to National Lottery players.

Communities will be able to take part in excavations, geophysical surveys, field-walking and landscape research - analysing historic documents and maps, as part of the new project, which focuses on the Tamar Valley, in eastern Cornwall and western Devon, and Ipplepen in South Devon, and is run by the University of Exeter.

In Ipplepen teams will help excavate a remarkably long-lived settlement that was occupied from the pre-Roman Iron Age (c.400BC), throughout the Roman period (AD43-410), and well into the early medieval period (AD410-800) when Devon was to eventually become part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. In the Tamar Valley volunteers will be excavating on the site of Roman fort and early medieval settlement at Calstock, discovered by University archaeologists in 2007, exploring the medieval mining landscape of the Bere Peninsula, and researching buried archaeology on the National Trust’s Cotehele estate.

Amateur archaeologists will be trained how to excavate, examine finds, survey, and use aerial photographs and ancient documents. The training is designed to give people who would not usually see historical research in action, such as refugees, the opportunity to work with experts and help piece together the history of their local area. The project team will be delivering a programme of workshops to local primary schools and giving children an opportunity to visit the excavations.

The project will take place thanks to a National Lottery grant of £222,500 which has been awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Professor Stephen Rippon of the Archaeology Department at the University of Exeter, said: “We’re delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Through this project we hope to help local communities in Devon and Cornwall to appreciate the remarkably rich and varied history that is in the landscape all around them.”

The project, which runs for three years, will start with an archaeological dig at Ipplepen during August and September. The public can see the work in action during an open day on Saturday 8th September.

The project will be a partnership between the University of Exeter, British Museum, Portable Antiquities Scheme, Devon County Council, National Trust, Tamar Valley AONB, Calstock Parish Council, refugee support groups in Plymouth and Calstock, Devon Recovery Learning Community, and St Sidwell's Centre in Exeter.

Project Manager Dr Chris Smart, from the University of Exeter, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to engage new audiences with the past hidden within these historic landscapes. The generosity of the National Lottery will enable us to help communities explore some of the most important archaeological and historic sites within the region”.

Alistair Dewhirst, Devon County & Teignbridge District Councillor for Ipplepen, said: “I am delighted that the University of Exeter’s Archaeology Department have received this National Lottery grant for their project to understand the landscapes around my community.   We have all been enthused by the exciting archaeology that has taken place in Ipplepen and this project will now help academics from the University to put that work into a local context understandable by lay people. The Ipplepen area is also a popular holiday destination and this will enable tourists to understand and enjoy their surroundings as well.”

Corinna Woodall, Tamar Valley AONB Manager, said: “The Tamar Valley AONB is really pleased that the Understanding Landscapes project has received its funding from the National Lottery and will in particular be working in two key but very distinct parishes in the heart of our area, Bere Ferrers and Calstock.  It is brilliant that these communities will have a very special opportunity to explore, learn about and help us discover more about the extraordinarily rich and varied archaeology and heritage of the valley”.

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Understanding Landscapes project is set to equip communities and schools with the skills and passion needed to play an active role in uncovering the hidden heritage of some of the historic landscapes on their doorstep.”

For details of upcoming events and how to get involved follow the project on the Understanding Landscapes: Empowering Communities to Preserve their Heritage webpage:

Date: 20 July 2018

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