Dig Basing! 2017

Dig Basing! is a community archaeology project run by BAHS. The objective of the project is to find out more about the about the archaeology in the area surrounding Basing House by digging 1M x 1M test pits in gardens in the Basing area. In 2017, we shall be digging test pits in June and September.

Basing House and the Grange have been the focus of several archaeological investigations dating from the early 1900s. However, not much has been done in terms of investigating the surrounding area, much of which has been built over in the last 60 years or so. We know that there may be traces of the events surrounding the siege of Basing House, and we know of a Saxon site close by at Cowdrey’s Down. Given the history of Basing, arguably the precursor of Basingstoke, there is the potential to turn up some interesting information which will help to fill in some gaps in our knowledge of the area.

1st Edition OS map of Basing (1801)

A recent satellite image of Basing

In September 2014 we were able to get 9 test pits dug around Basing, these pits yielded some interesting finds and started to give us more insight into how Basing developed as a settlement. However, we need to get a bigger sample with more test pits, which is why we are continuing the project. In 2015 and 2016, we were able to dig a further 30 pits and we plan to dig more pits in June and September 2017.

Finds prove fascinating

Proudly presenting a test pit in a garden near you

Would You Like To Get Involved?

We are seeking volunteers who would be willing to dig a 1M x 1M test pit in their garden and record what they find. You would dig down 10 cm at a time, recording and bagging finds for each layer. You would stop digging down either when you hit the bed rock (likely to be chalk or clay) or until you reach a depth of around 1.2 M. This is a proven methodology that has been used in other projects elsewhere in the country. Digging a test pit usually takes about a day and a half, which is why we try to organise it over a weekend. You don’t have to be an expert archaeologist and you don’t have to be a member of anything, you simply need to be willing to take part.

If digging yourself sounds a bit daunting but would still like to have a test pit in your garden, then experienced BAHS archaeological volunteers would only be too happy to do the digging for you.

 We would help you by providing:

  • Some training and explaining what you need to do
  • A pack of recording sheets and some finds bags
  • Any tools that you don’t have (Archaeological trowels)
  • Help with identifying anything you might find
  • Practical support on the day – we usually assign a BAHS volunteer to work with you

Once the test pit is dug, we would like to collect your record sheets and finds bags so that we can pull everything together to get the ‘big picture’. This usually takes a few months, especially if we have something that is tricky to identify, after which we will return them to you. You would be invited to a celebration where we would present the outcomes from the project and you would have the chance to compare notes with other “test pitters”.

How to get involved

You can volunteer or find out more in several ways:

  • You can email the organisers at dig_basing@bahsoc.org.uk
  • Or you can contact our fieldwork director, Mark Peryer, on 07770 832397, who will be happy to explain more

 The 2017 project time table

The planned dates for the project are:

  • 24th/25th June – 1st test pitting weekend
  • 23rd/24th September – 2nd test pitting weekend
  • Early December – Celebration and presentation of results for 2017

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