Outreach on a Commercial Project
Great Glen, Leicestershire
When construction work is underway, opportunities for communities to engage with archaeological investigations are often difficult to arrange. Although not a requirement of the archaeological brief produced on behalf of the planning authority, we were fortunate that our client (Miller Homes East Midlands Ltd) and their archaeological consultant (Simon Mortimer, CgMs Consulting Ltd) were supportive of enabling engagement with the local community. It was also opportune that, once the priority area in terms of construction had been investigated and handed back to the developer, archaeological work continued in a discrete part of the development area, shielded from construction activities by a mature hedge - thus making the site safe to visit for the general public.
As community engagement is still not the ‘norm’ for developer-funded archaeological investigations, it seems appropriate to briefly record what happened at Great Glen. There were four main strands, all of which took place in what effectively became the final ‘open’ week of fieldwork: production and circulation of a preliminary report; visits to the site by local school children; visits to the site by ‘young archaeologists’; and site tours for the residents of Great Glen. Risk assessments and considerable liaison with stakeholders were necessary in advance of the site visits and tours.
A flyer was produced to coincide with the open week. It was circulated by e-mail for wider distribution to all known interested parties, including the Parish Archaeological Warden, the Community Archaeologist of Leicestershire County Council, and local schools. It was also delivered by hand to the residents of Garfield Park, who were our neighbours during the investigations.
School Visits and Young Archaeologists
Several groups of pupils from St Cuthbert’s C of E Primary School in Great Glen and from Leicester Grammar School visited the site. Not only did they have a tour of the site, handle some of the finds and talk to archaeologists doing their work, they also got to wear yellow hi-vis vests and hard hats supplied by Miller Homes East Midlands Ltd. Over fifty school children visited the site in total.
Members of the Leicestershire Young Archaeologists’ Club and the Bedford Museum Saturday Archaeology Workshops (YAC) attended the site for a day with their parents. They were given an opportunity to excavate archaeological deposits and clean archaeological finds.
Over twenty-five ‘young archaeologists’ were given practical experience on a real archaeological site.
For several days (within working hours) the site was open for visits by members of the public. They were given a tour of the site by a professional archaeologist, who explained how the work was being done and what had been found on site. There was also a display of finds and photographs.
There were over 200 visitors — a considerable number, given that the visits had only been advertised within Great Glen and were only on weekdays. As expected, most of the visitors were from Great Glen itself, but some came from Leicester and even as far away as Peterborough. At times, due to the visitor numbers, multiple tours were undertaken at once.
Other projects where we have engaged with the local community, either through site tours, evening talks, school visits (both to the site and the classroom) include Burton Latimer, Marston Park (Marston Moretaine), Fenstanton and Fairfield (Stotfold).