In 2017 an interesting archaeological feature was identified at Harthill with Woodall by a local resident. After discussions with archaeologists and the land owners it is believed that the features may be those of a previously unknown and unrecorded Iron Age/Romano British camp. It is hoped that in 2018 a Community Dig of the site will take place.’ Harthill Community Dig blog, October 2017.

Following the discovery on satellite images of interesting looking features at Harthill, local resident Paul Rowland and Wessex Archaeology Project Manager, Mili Rajic put their heads together and came up with an idea! A year in the making, the Harthill Community Dig came to fruition in June 2018.

This week, 12 Wessex Archaeology North archaeologists made the journey out to Harthill to meet volunteers from the local community. The dig will last three weeks and will provide an opportunity for members of the community to learn about the archaeological processes involved in excavating a site and expand the knowledge of the local area. It is hoped that this exchange is something Wessex Archaeology North can build on in the future, with more opportunities for local communities to really get involved in their heritage.

The Harthill site is situated in beautiful privately-owned woodland, used for conservation. The landowners have kindly granted their permission for us to excavate. Due to the nature of the site, we have been unable to use machines to open trenches, so everything is being dug by hand. The plan is to open up areas targeted on various anomalies in the landscape.

On day one, Paul and Alison turned up to volunteer, and following a morning briefing, the job of opening the trenches began. Area 1 was targeted on the potential linear feature/ ditch identified by the satellite images in the field adjacent to the wood. Targeted Areas 2 and 3 are looking for possible occupation or other features associated with the linear feature. Whilst stripping back the topsoil by hand, Area 2 turned up the site’s first finds: an iron nail, a fragment of pottery, and a small lump of slag.

On day two, six local volunteers came to site and following on-site observations a fourth area was opened. After the discovery of some interesting ‘lumps and bumps’ in the woodland, Area 4 was targeted on three small, rectangular pits. During the removal of the topsoil from this area a well-preserved bowl of a clay pipe was found.

Mili and Ted getting stuck in Clay pipe bowl found in Area 4

Mili and Ted getting stuck in, and a clay pipe bowl found in Area 4 (photography by Paul Rowland and Stuart Pierson)


So far, the project has provided teaching opportunities in skills such as metal detecting and sieving, and following the opening of the areas, the volunteers are learning the correct methods of archaeological excavation and recording.

This is only the beginning for Harthill, so be sure to stay tuned for updates on what we might find!

To read more about the site from Paul Rowland’s point of view, please follow this link.

By Emily Eastwood, Fieldwork Supervisor