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Volunteers peel back Pan’s past

For the past 9 weeks, enthusiastic amateur archaeologists and metal detectorists have gathered at Pan, Newport to join in the investigation of two large fields on either side of Pan Lane. Each Saturday groups of between 10 and 25 volunteers have lent a hand, searching the fields for clues to Pan’s past. And there were plenty! Hundreds of objects have been washed, marked and sorted to see what they can tell us about the area.

It is clear that people have lived here for thousands of years. On the very first session sharp-eyed volunteer Dawn Russell picked up a flint tool which is at least 400,000 years old! Jane Roberts of Wessex Archaeology said “It’s difficult to spot a small piece of worked flint in the mud, amongst lots of other stones. The volunteers were really keen and we had to persuade them to take a break!”

Members of ‘History Hunters’, ‘Vectis Searchers’ and the ‘Isle of Wight Metal Detectorists’ Club’ joined the search too, uncovering, amongst other things, musket balls from the time of the Civil War, a Tudor buckle and a Georgian coin.

But there’s been even more to Pan Archaeology than field-walking and metal detecting - Phil Harding, of Time Team and Wessex Archaeology came along to the Isobel Centre for an evening to demonstrate flint knapping and there was an afternoon of children’s activities during half-term.

Volunteer Dawn Russell said: “It’s been a great project, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about archaeology in this practical way. I have come to every session and as well as finding pieces of flint, I found a piece of a Roman brick. In fact I’ve become so keen that I’ve joined a local archaeology group!”

The project is not over yet: Some of the objects will be sent to Newport Museum, but before they go there will be an exhibition at the Isobel centre to celebrate both the history of Pan, and the work of the keen volunteers who helped find out more about it.

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