It started with a leaflet through the letterbox. Now I don’t know about you, but in this household leaflets through the letterbox tend to get fast-tracked to recycling. But this leaflet caught my eye – possibly because it arrived on its own rather than as the usual mixture of offers from pizza parlours, Indian/ Bangladeshi/ Nepali takeaways or pathologically optimistic estate agents. Hand delivered flyers from Polish cleaners or jobbing gardeners merit a brief glance and a moment of longing. But this was different.
This was really different. This was an offer to have archaeologists dig a test pit in your garden and investigate the findings. And if that isn’t a “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-not-to-be-missed-under-any-circumstances”, then I don’t know what is. I volunteered. A herd of mastodons charging at full pelt from the majestically forested heights of Shotover Hill towards the unforgiving mud of the Thames Valley flood plain couldn’t stop me. Of course I volunteered. I was first in the queue.
So on Thursday a member of the archaeology team popped round to explain the procedure and make sure that they wouldn’t be at risk of puncturing a gas main or slicing through a power cable. This prompted some emergency tidying up and, yes, I did stick the Hoover in the middle of the living room floor to create the impression that I don’t normally live like this.
Now, I had assumed that digging a small test pit would be the work of a couple of hours over the designated weekend. Au contraire.
They plan to start at around 9:30 on the Saturday (apparently there is such a time) and dig all day Saturday and all day Sunday. They are digging in a total of six gardens, so this turns out to be quite a big exercise.
What will they find?
To be continued …Links: East Oxford Archaeology website Photo credit: Oscar Montelius, 1874, Swedish National Heritage Board, via Flikr Commons