Currently, the news is completely dominated by coronavirus during this, a national emergency. Messages on how to avoid infection, who can work and not, likely rates of infection and so on are repeatedly delivered via TV and other media outlets such that hardly anyone in the country can be unaware of the details of the dreadful coronavirus pandemic we are all of us having to face up to and cope with. Wherever you are we hope you stay safe and come through this period of uncertainty unscathed.
The thing is, though, with no possibility of physical meetings outside of the home, what to do whilst we’re staying safe by self-isolating or in lockdown? Well, to alleviate your boredom and to feed and stimulate your mind, the archaeological community has come up trumps with an assortment of ad-hoc activities, exhibitions, literature and so on that you can tap into online for free during the coronavirus emergency. As of April we’ll be putting details of these on the Events page for you. For ourselves, here at GamArch we’ll be able to catch up with writing reports on several of our practical activities, some of which are long overdue. So, although it’s pretty grim out there, there’s a few ways archaeology and the many small kindnesses of its community and the wider community beyond can help take your mind off dwelling on the darker side of the coronavirus outbreak. Wishing you well folks.
Into the New Year we go with our first meeting of 2020 taking place tomorrow night at Blythe Way Community Room (off Stocks Lane), Gamlingay. Postcode is SG19 3EH if you need a SatNav thingy. We meet at 7.30pm, all welcome.
While we’re here, let’s talk about lidar. More and more sites are being discovered and known sites better understood as a result of careful scrutiny of lidar derived imagery. It’s a game-changer for archaeology generally and landscape archaeology in particular as we can prospect for sites, find new ones, add to the understanding of known sites and model the terrain the sites are situated within. We have a growing source of freely available lidar data courtesy of the government ‘Open Data’ initiative and it has certainly been a help to us here at GamArch.
However, survey coverage is patchy. This is because the national lidar data survey itself originated out of a need for understanding of flood risks so as to be able to better prepare for and avert flooding: surveys therefore focused on waterways and water catchments, minor streams and watery places – areas away from watery places were therefore left off the lidar survey.
Currently the survey has covered and released lidar data for about half of England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will have their own data and ways of releasing it. We are fortunate in Gamlingay in having quite a lot of the parish covered but not all of it and for our neighbours in Hatley there’s nothing as yet.
Until recently it wasn’t at all easy finding out when and where the ‘blanks’ on the lidar map might be filled in. Now, the Environment Agency (they are in charge of the surveys) have released an online interactive flat map of their planned and past surveys. By default the map will open on planned survey areas for the coming year – the lidar survey year starts round about now and ends when the trees come into leaf, the leaves muzz up the data collection and so it’s not possible to survey beyond Spring.
If you zoom in on the EA map you’ll see poor old Hatleys will remain marooned, isolated from their friends in lidar surveyed England – a little like Gamlingay is isolated from the wider public footpaths outside the parish. Some of the blanks for Gamlingay may disappear though and there should be better coverage of Everton, Potton and Tempsford. So, we can look forward to a more homogenous lidar map as and when the new data is released later in the ‘lidar year’. Which reminds us, have a very good human year for 2020, all the best to you.
Quite some time ago now we came across this photo lying on a roadside verge by Waresley Wood.
It was found by the track leading in to the wood – not the official entrance where the car park is, the one further up the road from there, toward the Gransden end of things. It was amongst a very small number of other items which looked for all the world as if they’d been chucked out from a car window as it traveled along. It struck us as odd, not the sort of usual fly-tipping or littering you’d normally come across there or anywhere else really.
One scenario that worried us was that these small items might have come from a burglary and that the thief or thieves, having looked at their swag, were getting rid of the evidence. If that was the case then this photo might well be somebody’s treasured memento and they’d be pleased to see it back. So we’ve been asking around to see if anyone knows anything about it. No-one in GamArch could help, David Allen of the History society doesn’t recognise it nor do any of his contacts.
Our best shot now is simple publicity. So, if you know anything at all about this photo please do get in touch. Any and every scrap of info might help us to get the photo back to where it belongs. Contact us on Facebook, Twitter or email us via julialmanley at yahoo.com Alternatively, please show this pic to your friends and circulate it on your social media.
If anybody would like a lift for the forthcoming talk this coming Thursday evening 21st November at Wrestlingworth we’ve 2 spaces in a car travelling from Gamlingay for it – please contact Julia on julialmanley at yahoo.com if you’re interested. You don’t have to be a GamArch member for the lift!
The talk is titled ‘Anglo Saxons – Invasion or Merger?’ , a meaty topic if ever there was one and the speaker (Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews) is deeply knowledgeable about this subject and our area generally so do come along if you wish, it should be a really good gig.
Organised by their local History Society, the venue is at the Memorial Hall, Church Lane, Wrestlingworth and there’s a £3.00 entrance fee. Doors open at 7-30 for an 8.00pm start and there’s tea and biscuits beforehand.
Some great news! Thanks to a donation of £1550 from the Gamlingay Community Turbine Tithe Fund, GamArch has now ordered a display board for the Meadows, to finish the Saxon re-interment project. Funding and placement of a boulder and plaque memorialising the Saxon forebears of Gamlingay has already been undertaken and the Turbine grant will provide a handy info display board standing close by the Saxon memorial stone. The boulder marks the spot where Saxon remains were re-intered earlier in the year, the remains having come from some of those excavated nearby ahead of the Poppyfields housing development. So, a big thank you Turbine people for granting us this money.
Together with the History Society, our efforts to memorialise the village’s ancestors will finally reach fruition. We couldn’t have gotten this far without the help and generosity of many others and we’ll acknowledge all of those who have helped when the info board is put in place. For now, though, one person in particular deserves some credit at this stage – Chris Toomsett, the chair of the GamArch group. It is largely thanks to his sustained effort, determination and diplomatic skills that the Saxon Heritage Project was a success – well done Chris!
Meanwhile, academic research into the rest of the Saxon skeletal remains continues and we’ll keep you up to date on the findings.
About a month ago now we decided it was time to reach a wider audience by using social media and so we have lately started up Facebook and Twitter accounts. One thing leads to another doesn’t it and we’ve also given the website a new lick of paint, reorganised the menu structure and done a few other things under the hood to make the website a bit more welcoming and easier to navigate. We’re still tidying up and tinkering with the layout and this may disrupt your viewing for the next week or so but the major changes have all now been implemented. Please let us know if anything is blatantly wrong so we can sort problems out.
One of the new things here at the website is what you’re reading now, the GamArch blog, and this post is the first of what will be many more to come. Posts will touch on a miscellany of topics – including archaeological news of things beyond our area – and sometimes the posts will add to stuff we’ve covered in the fieldwork and articles pages of the website. For a more straightforward listing of events (and some local news), see the News & Events website pages.
Contributions are always welcome so do make use of us if you want to publicise an event or would like to write about anything of an archaeological nature, preferably having a local slant. Contact details are over on the Welcome page.