On Sunday 24th July, Matt from our Wessex Cymru office dusted off his trowel and headed off to help out two Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC) groups as they investigated the garden at the National Trust property at Dudmaston Hall, Shropshire. The National Trust wants to reinstate one of the old landscaped paths around the lake but had no idea of its alignment or how it was made, so they asked YAC to come and help out!
With just a faded early 19th-century photograph to go on, the Marches and Ironbridge YAC groups chose two areas to dig and set about removing the turf. They soon found a compacted gravel surface littered with pieces of 19th and early 20th century pottery. It looked like the path had gradually been swallowed up by the surrounding grassland, probably around the time of WWI when the family fortunes fell and they could no longer afford to maintain the extensive landscaped gardens.
The trenches were in the open grounds of the house, and lots of interested visitors came over to see what we were doing – including a few potential new YAC members! As well as the dig, there were loads of Festival of Archaeology activities going on at the house, including making pots on a wheel, medieval food tasting, and medieval calligraphy with real quills and oak gall ink.
We all had great fun and the National Trust were very pleased with our results. Thanks to all the YAC members and helpers who came along, and special thanks to the National Trust for inviting YAC to help uncover the secrets of Dudmaston!