Founder member Roger reminisces

“Warboys Archaeology Project started in October 2012. It is one of the Cambridgeshire community archaeology groups formed from a five year lottery funded project which started in 2011, JIGSAW Cambridgeshire. The JIGSAW project, sponsored by HLF and run by Oxford Archaeology East, Bar Hill and linked with Cambridgeshire County Council was a brilliant opportunity for heritage lovers.

Over the years we have undertaken training and gained experience working on sites dating from the Middle Iron Age through to late Medieval.

The most exciting, which was our first excavation, took place in Warboys when we opened an 8m x 6m hand dug trench to reveal a 16th Century brick floor with one metre high walls. From then on it was all down-hill, literally, as we moved from the relatively high ground of Warboys to the fen edge, working on Middle Iron Age and Roman field systems.

Back on the highland one of the team had noticed some crop marks and, having obtained permission from the farmer, took us to investigate what turned out to be a Banjo Enclosure, Iron Age to Roman.

In Chatteris we were asked to look at a mound that could possibly be a Saxon burial; unfortunately it turned out to be a spoil heap!

More recently we’ve been involved as volunteers on a professionally led evaluation excavation in Warboys and learnt a lot about how a professional excavation works.

The Ramsey Abbey Community Project came from an after dinner talk I was giving to the Ramsey Rotary Club and in discussion with my host for the evening I was asked about Ramsey Abbey and how it could be located. Ground Penetrating Radar was my answer and my host happened to have contacts in the technical and academic world and the project was born. We had supported the Ramsey Rural Museum during a Ramsey Heritage Day a few years earlier and a few phone calls later we put a display at the spring 2017 Ramsey Heritage Day with the aim of recruiting local people to the Ramsey Abbey project. That day’s display brought 15 new names forward and, with a team to carry out the work and permissions given, the project started.

We try to recruit regularly for this project and try not to get too far behind with the paperwork, contacting new members and planning the future, but it’s a lot of work and as they say – “There are only so many hours in any one day”. As a community group we are mainly retired people with a love of history and enjoy the fun of getting cold, wet, hot, muddy, disappointed and elated – sometimes all in one day. The enthusiasm for the subject, the fun of meeting new people and learning new skills, keeping fit both mentally and physically, and being out in the fresh air, are our drivers and personally I couldn’t have found a better hobby had I tried.”