A large audience gathered tonight, 28th March 2011, to hear Judy Dewey presenting “Wallingford: Burgh to Borough Project.” Judy started with a little background about the town itself, noting that Wallingford, apart from originally being part of Berkshire, is an Anglo-Saxon settlement and has, or rather had, a Castle with a motte and bailey.
Most towns build up on the site of existing structures, however in Wallingford there are several large areas that have not been built on and the main town is to the south of the castle. Hence there is a fantastic opportunity for discovery. Hence in 2002 Leicester University, together with The Wallingford Historical & Archaeological Society (TWHAS) and Wallingford Museum formed a project to look at the history of Wallingford. The project pulls together all of the historical documentation as well as conducting surveys and excavations. Dr Neil Christie from Leicester University was in charge of the project, however, the project has been a truly joint venture with all ages and levels of expertise working side by side.
Judy noted some of the finds that have been made such as 200 Medieval and 20 Anglo-Saxon burials under the Waitrose store which would have been from one of eleven churches. Wallingford also contains some of the best 13th Century documents in the country.
The project also involved what Judy termed “Garden Archaeology.” This is where a small team enter peoples gardens, with permission, and excavate a test pit. The test pits typically measure 1m x 1.5m and takes around 3 days. To date 41 pits have been excavated and over 6000 pieces of pottery extracted.
Other work included geophysical surveys, some of which showed previously unknown structures, others showed nothing new although something was found when excavations were carried out. New excavations were carried out in various locations including at the castle, The Bullcroft and The Kinecroft.
The project has held many open days which have allowed members of the public not only to see what is happening but also to get involved. Judy noted that the project is continuing to this day, the project has showed the history to the public, allowed documents to be collated and transcribed and provided new materials via excavations.
A vote of thanks was given by committee member Dr Nick Young.