Longforth Farm - Community Engagement

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Project Brief

Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Bloor Homes to undertake a community outreach project at Longforth Farm, Wellington in relation to a programme of archaeological mitigation. The objective was to promote community interest in the medieval building complex uncovered at Longforth Farm and to add value to the Bloor Homes development by fostering a sense of place and community though shared heritage assets. 
 

Implementation

Wessex Archaeology, supported by Somerset County Council, delivered an extensive and inclusive week-long programme of activities that aimed to engage all age groups within the local community.
 
The media day at Longforth Farm was well attended by members of the television, radio and printed press. The interest generated by this event and the associated press release resulted in extensive media coverage on a local, national and international scale. 
 

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On-site school workshops took place over three days and over 250 children from four local schools participated. Workshops featured a tour of the archaeological site and the opportunity to design medieval floor tiles using clay. Feedback from all four schools was very positive and several of the students and teachers returned on the community open day. 
 
The local historical society tours, which were fully booked, provided an in-depth opportunity for this specialist audience to preview the archaeology and the artefacts ahead of the community open day. They also provided an opportunity for society members to share their knowledge of the site and the area with us. 
 

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The community open day offered local residents an opportunity to explore this exciting archaeological site and discover a previously unknown part of Wellington’s heritage. Over 1400 people attended this free event; an unprecedented number that reflected the high levels of local interest in the site and the success of our media strategy. Activities included guided tours of the excavation area led by the archaeologists, and several hands-on children’s activities. Phil Harding, from Channel 4’s Time Team, was also on hand to meet visitors. Feedback from this event was overwhelmingly positive and there was great interest in future events, lectures and museum displays. 
 
High quality promotional materials were produced by Wessex Archaeology’s specialist graphics team in support of the project, during the three-week preparation period. These materials included information panels, leaflets, activity sheets and a promotional flyer. In addition a set of project web pages was created on the Wessex Archaeology website and a successful social media strategy was implemented across several platforms. 
 

Outcomes

The Longforth Farm community engagement project was a great success and an excellent example of partnership working. Wessex Archaeology’s effective health and safety management and event-specific risk assessments ensured smooth running of the project at all stages. 
 

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Local schools, societies and residents came together and were inspired by the archaeological site. 
Over 1750 people engaged with the site throughout the week-long programme of events, and several thousands more accessed the information via the associated press coverage and online through our digital media. Feedback from all events was overwhelmingly positive. 
 
For more on this project visit the Longforth Project Pages.