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Alton Big Dig

East Hampshire's community archaeology group with 160 volunteer members working under professional archaeologist supervision, exploring sites at Alton, Colemore and Stroud near Petersfield.

Email: altonbigdig@gmail.com

East Hampshire Community Archaeology

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  • David Quick

Day 13 - Interesting garden and church

Updated: Jul 27, 2019

Before I forget, thanks Carl for your lovely home-baked cake!


We found a child's or baby's chain bracelet while digging a few days ago. I think it is made of 18-carat gold and it has a name engraved on its name plate (hidden in the photo below). It was buried several inches below the surface so in theory could have been lost in the gardens as much as 50 years ago, although I suspect it was more recently. If you or someone you know thinks it might belong to them, please contact me via this website or by email to lissarchaeology@gmail.com, letting me know when and roughly where it was lost. I want to return it to its rightful owner so I would also need to know the name that is engraved on the name plate. I am hoping that Moira at the Herald might publish a letter or article to publicise this find further.


It was nice to see at Moira has kindly done an initial article with photo about the Big Dig. I have given her loads more photos to look through so am hoping she might do a bigger piece about us after the Dig, but here are Andy, Davy and Caroline pretending they are working hard:

Article about he Big Dig in the Herald.

Today we needed to clear up some loose ends. Carl went back to one of the houses in Lenten Street and just made sure that the turf had been re-laid properly and that the resident was happy. He also emailed the geophys results to another owner who had kindly allowed us to geophys their garden, albeit without finding anything. After that he went to yet another Lenten Street property to mark out two test pits, based on what had been found on their geophys plot several days ago.


Once he had done this Chris and Tina led two teams digging in that garden and they quite quickly came upon the material that was showing on the resistivity plot.

Chris' team uncovering building material.

Tina's team uncovering evidence of what we believe might be metal making.

Back in the Gardens Juliet had asked Andy if he would help to uncover the rest of the Victorian garden feature - the plinth in the centre of the lawn that we found on Day 1. Because the Town Clerk hopes to leave this feature uncovered we needed to uncover all of it and make it symmetrical.

Andy removing more of the turf on and around the plinth of a sundial or statue.

Meanwhile Jane, Davy and Carol were continuing excavation of their three test pits towards the north of the gardens, near the 1988 dig area.

Jane bravely wearing white in her test pit.

Carol in her TP5 which is almost finished and also has a Roman floor surface. My apologies for disturbing her while deep in thought.

i spent most of the rest of the morning showing visitors around and talking to children about finds. After lunch I suggested to Juliet and Carl that we do a recce of St Lawrence Church, where it has been suggested that we might be allowed to do geophys of the grounds this winter. Apparently a crypt collapsed some years ago but there is also said to be a deep Iron Age ditch running through the churchyard. The church was of course the site of the 2nd Battle of Alton, of which there is evidence by way of these bullets, some of which were embedded in the church door.

A display of old items in the Church, including what are said to be bullets from the 2nd Battle of Alton in the Civil War.

The earliest parts of the Church are Norman and it has some wall paintings on one of the columns.

Paintings on a column of St Lawrence Church.

We then headed quickly back to Lenten Street to see how the test pits there were coming along. This garden is proving really interesting because Chris' test pit had large amounts of building material, probably 20th Century, including lots of engineering brick and modern glass almost 1cm thick! The house itself dates from about 1890 and the owner had no idea there were the remains of a building under his garden.

Lots of engineering brick and very thick glass in the first test pit.

These are some of their finds.

The finds from the first test pit in the garden.

This is a piece of the glass that is puzzling us. What would glass as thick as this be used for?

A piece of very thick and fairly modern glass, 12 x 6 x 1cm

Tina's team had also made progress as seen here.

The second test pit in the garden in Lenten Street.

The finds from this test pit, of which there appeared to be many, seemed probably to be of an earlier date and suggested metal making - perhaps a blacksmith?


When we got back to the Public Gardens i saw that Andu had almost finished cleaning uncovering the rest of the garden feature.


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