What we’ll do…

Gardens for digging

Places to dig
We are eagerly hoping for properties and gardens in the heart of Farnham in which to excavate. If you would like to offer up yours, you tell us what section(s) you would like us to dig (or not dig!).

What we’ll do
The excavation team, whether yourself or others (if you would rather just watch), will then excavate a 1×1 metre test pit (or more) in the specified area of your garden. Test-pits will be completed within one day (unless we find something really interesting and you want us to continue!), at which point the area will be returned to its previous state (returfed, etc).

Your involvement
You are more than welcome to participate in excavating your own test pit, or you can simply learn about what is found and allow other interested community members to have the chance. We’ll particularly need a couple pits for school groups to dig in!

Our intention is to analyze and write-up the results as quickly as possible, at which point you will be able to learn more about the results and finds from your (and others’) gardens. Be sure to come to our wrap-up day at the Museum on Saturday September 13th, at which we will display what was found!





Quick, minimal, unbiased sampling
The CORS method (based on the Currently Occupied Rural Settlement (CORS) project at the University of Cambridge) focuses on currently inhabited settlement sites and employs 1×1 metre test-pits around targeted sites as widely as possible, in order for quick excavation with minimal disturbance. This is due to the often limited amount of land devoid of buildings which is divided into relatively small plots, held in private ownership and subject to intensive domestic and social use, eg gardens, drives, playgrounds, etc. Thus, the choice of sites for sampling is limited by practicalities of access and consent, making it essential to select an unbiased range of locations which represent the target area.

How we dig
All test pits are the same size (1×1 metre) and follow the same excavation and recording procedures. The location of the plot is measured and recorded, deturfed, and excavated in a series of 10cm spits. The surface is drawn at a 1:10 scale, and features, if they are encountered, are excavated and recorded in a context-by-context manner. Spoil is sieved for finds using a 10mm mesh, which are then kept separate and identified by project experts. When the pit is completed, sections are drawn, and then it is backfilled, with the turf replaced and restored. Although most test pits are completed when they reach natural geology or the maximum safe depth of 1.2 metres, a few may be stopped due to encountering a feature (whether ancient or modern) which cannot be removed at that particular time.

test-pit layers image

Therefore, excavation involves quite a lot of individual tasks and processes, requiring volunteers to dig, to sieve and to wash the finds which are found!

More methodology details