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Author Topic: The Cookham Test-Pit Project  (Read 387 times)
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« on: August 26, 2018, 02:03:52 PM »

The Cookham Test-Pit Project
(A Community Archaeology Event)
 
Cookham has a rich and varied history, from its prehistoric ‘Ancient Britons’ in the Stone-Age, Bronze and Iron Ages, to the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, and latterly the medieval population with which we are more familiar.
 
Some of these early inhabitants have left their mark. The Bronze-Age Britons left the Barrows (burial mounds) on Cock Marsh, The Romans left traces of a settlement near Strande Water, and their roads have been found towards Bray.
 
However there are still some glaring gaps in our knowledge:
 
The reputed Roman road, joining Silchester and St Albans, known as the Camlet Way is said to have come through the village, but where?
 
Cookham was on the river boundary between the territories of Wessex and Mercia, and there was a monastery documented here in the 8th century – but its location has not been discovered.
 
Around the year 886, to defend against the Vikings, Alfred the Great ordered a fortification to be built at Sashes (then known as Sceaftesege) – but was Sashes just the island that we know now, or was it a larger area that perhaps encompassed a greater part of Cookham? Where was this defence located?
 
In 997 - The Witan (Saxon parliament) held by Ethelred the Unready met at Cookham. Where did they meet?
 
The Marlow Archaeology (MAS) team are keen to try to find answers to these questions, to advance our knowledge and understanding of the origins and development of Cookham, and are hoping that local residents would like to be involved.
 
Other archaeological organisations around the UK have embarked on widespread ‘mini-excavations’ in localised areas, in the hope of revealing traces of the earlier settlements, and there have been some very encouraging results. These exercises have depended on the participation of many local residents to allow small excavations, usually about one metre square to be dug in their gardens. If any artefacts or traces of buildings are uncovered they are carefully recorded, until after many pits have been excavated, an overall picture of the area’s history might be revealed.
 
MAS are launching the Cookham Test-Pit Project: a community test-pit collaboration in the village at the Cookham Regatta on Saturday 1 September.
 
Digging a Test-Pit can be a really effective way of discovering clues to the history and former use of an area. It is not highly disruptive, being only about a metre square, it can be completed usually in a weekend, and is a quick way to obtain results. What’s more the whole family can get involved and the kids can become archaeologists for the weekend. It’s a real community project that can be to the benefit of the whole town.
 
Cookham residents, especially if they live in an older property, have dug up anything interesting in their garden, or have knowledge of a previous structure nearby are encouraged to contact MAS.
 
For more details email MAS on: marlowarch.mas@gmail.com or call our Chairman, Peter Borrows on 01628 483895.
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