Devizes residents dig deep to uncover hidden past

This Is Wiltshire: Above, John Girvan, Rhys Jackson, Kiera Riordan, Amber Jackson and Taniya Wright dig in Above, John Girvan, Rhys Jackson, Kiera Riordan, Amber Jackson and Taniya Wright dig in

More than 600 people rolled up their sleeves – if they had sleeves in the glorious sunshine – and got digging on Devizes Green on Saturday and Sunday as archaeologists tried to discover more about the town’s history.

Dig Devizes was organised by the Wiltshire Archaeological Group in association with Wiltshire Museum to find out what lay beneath the surface of the park.

Last week sixth formers from Devizes School excavated the site of the former Donut Dugout Nissen huts near Estcourt Street, but the weekend’s activities concentrated on an area near Nursteed Road.

David Dawson, director of Wiltshire Museum, said: “From a geophysical survey of the Green there is the possible outline of a building, which could date from the 17th century or earlier.

“Unfortunately, because the ground is so dry at the moment, we were unable to get very deep but some of the finds were very encouraging.”

Jon Sanigar, site director for the Wiltshire Archaeological Group, said some of the objects found dated back 800 years.

He said: “We found a piece of medieval pottery very close to the surface but most of the finds were from the Victorian period. The Green has never been built on so there is a chance of finding artefacts from before the first castle was built in 1080.”

Over the two days, people of all ages turned up to help with the excavation. Children as young as five wielded their trowels like veterans and dug up such treasures as the leg of an 18th century porcelain doll.

Mr Dawson said: “The response from the public was far beyond what we were expecting. The dryness of the ground slowed down the digging but showed us a tantalising glimpse of what lies beneath.”

It is hoped that the event will be repeated next year.

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