Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dig - Time team dig up the dirt: experts push back origins of farming in city’s history (Sheffield)

ARCHAEOLOGISTS working at a Sheffield farm have dug up a mystery – the remains of a settlement which could date back 8,000 years to the Iron Age.

The dig, aided by volunteers at Whirlow Hall Farm, has found a rectangular-shaped enclosure formed by a ditch.

It was revealed during a geophysical survey undertaken by a team as part of an ongoing Heritage Lottery funded project at the farm.

Karl Taylor, of Archaeological Research Services who carried out the survey, said: “The results of the survey show just how valuable geophysics can be as a tool for discovering archaeology that would have otherwise lain undetected.

“This discovery pushes back farming at Whirlow by at least 2,000 years and will provide new information on the early history of Sheffield.”

Excavations on the enclosure are now under way with volunteers and members of the public taking part alongside trained archaeologists.

The discovery could be hugely significant for Sheffield, as no farming settlements of this date have yet been found within the city.

The project is open to the public and volunteers have been involved since April.

They have so far been carrying out field walks, geophysical examinations of the terrain and a photographic survey of the historic farm buildings at Whirlow including the medieval cruck barn.

Volunteer Dorne Coggins said: “The project has given me a wonderful chance to experience a wide range of archaeological activities.

“It has really opened my eyes to what you can discover on your doorstep.”

The field walking resulted in the collection of over 1,000 finds, including flint tools from the Mesolithic and Early Bronze Age.

Archeologist Jessika Sheppy said: “The really exciting aspect of this project is that it is revealing the presence of human activity at Whirlow for over 8,000 years.

“This emerging story will enable visitors and school groups to appreciate the history and importance of the site for many years to come.”

On completion of the project, the findings will be used to produce a heritage trail and a programme of talks and walks detailing the history of the area, which will be made available to visitors to the farm.

The dig continues until August 5 and anyone interested in taking part should contact Jessika Sheppy at or 01629 814540 to book a place.

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