Wye's heritage is a rich, but finite and irreplaceable resource. Wye Digs is an enabling project to help identify gaps in our knowledge, understand and preserve Wye's complex archaeology and palaeontology for future generations.
Finds of stone tools excavated at the Conningbrook Manor Pit show that our Stone Age ancestors were active along the fertile Stour Valley around thirty five thousand years ago. The association of their hand axes with finds of animal bones show that these early humans shared the landscape with arctic lemmings and mega fauna (lions, bears, mammoths, wooly rhinocerous and giant irish elk). Wye also has Bronze Age and Iron Age barrows and much evidence of human settlement, notably during the Roman, Anglo Saxon and Medieval periods.
In reality, large scale professional digs are expensive projects, and typically they are development-led and developer funded. In areas of known archaeological interest a standard pre-start condition attached to the planning permission will ensure that archaeology is identified and recorded before development work starts. Consequently field archaeologists often have to work under time pressure from developers, and against the weather.
What happens after the excavation stage? Archaeologists will analyse, catalogue, and store the finds and archive the records discovered during the fieldwork stage. Eventually the public will see a published report and an interpretation whatever insight the fieldwork stage revealed.
The Havillands development 2006 - 2013 triggered the largest dig in Wye. This revealed extensive early Roman industrial archaeology and some human remains. The report summary concluded that 'the Romano-British activity on site appeared to be largely industrial in nature' and that 'artefactual evidence indicated a date range of AD 50-140/160, with a complete cessation of Romano-British activity by the 3rd century.' None of the finds were of any monetary value.
Wye Digs is a rolling project that encourages public involvement and interest in Wye's past. Wye Digs can also support small scale investigation work with geophysical surveys and trial pits when opportunities arise, on sites where the land owners are willing to provide access.