Understanding Landscapes project awarded HLF grant

Professor Stephen Rippon of the University of Exeter’s Archaeology Department has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £222,500 for a project that enables people in Devon and Cornwall to work with archaeologists to explore the incredible ancient history of the South West.

Focussing on the Tamar Valley, in eastern Cornwall and western Devon, and Ipplepen in South Devon, the ‘Understanding Landscapes’ project will train amateur archaeologists how to excavate, examine finds, survey, and use aerial photographs and ancient documents. The training is designed to give people who would not usually see historical research in action, such as refugees, the opportunity to work with experts and help piece together the history of their local area. The project team will be delivering a programme of workshops to local primary schools and giving children an opportunity to visit the excavations.

In Ipplepen, teams will help excavate a remarkably long-lived settlement that was occupied from the pre-Roman Iron Age (c.400BC), throughout the Roman period (AD43-410), and well into the early medieval period when Devon was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex (AD410-800). In the Tamar Valley, volunteers will be excavating on the site of Roman fort and early medieval settlement at Calstock, discovered by University archaeologists in 2007, exploring the medieval mining landscape of the Bere Peninsula, and researching buried archaeology on the National Trust’s Cotehele estate.

The project, which runs for three years, will start with an archaeological dig at Ipplepen during August and September. The public can see the work in action during an open day on Saturday 8 September.

Professor Rippon said: “We’re delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Through this project we hope to help local communities in Devon and Cornwall to appreciate the remarkably rich and varied history that is in the landscape all around them.”

‘Understanding Landscapes’ is a partnership between the University of Exeter, British Museum, Portable Antiquities Scheme, Devon County Council, National Trust, Tamar Valley AONB, Calstock Parish Council, refugee support groups in Plymouth and Calstock, Devon Recovery Learning Community, and St Sidwell's Centre in Exeter.

For details of upcoming events and how to get involved, follow the project on the Understanding Landscapes: Empowering Communities to Preserve their Heritage webpage.