Garden Archaeology 16/4/20

 
Good morning everyone, I hope you had a good Easter.  I bet you didn't eat any chocolate!
 
This week I've been digging in my garden again (because I thought I'd plant some strawberry plants) and I've been finding lots of things from long ago. 
 
My garden has been used by people to keep animals and grow vegetables for about four hundred years, and before that it was part of the Forest of Arden.  While the people were growing the vegetables and looking after animals things got lost or broken; bottles and pots, tools and occasionally precious things; I've been finding them as I dig.   
 
You can see them in the video below.
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It was only a couple of life-times ago (in the Victorian era) that people realised that some of the things people from long ago had lost, thrown away, scattered about, were still hidden in the ground. 
And then they realised that each of the broken things (a lost shoe, a broken sword) told a story. 
It was only about fifty years ago that people realised that even the smallest bits of rubbish told a story!   And that they told an even better story if they thought carefully about exactly where each thing was found! 
 
One of the things I found tells a really interesting story:
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When people realised that even the rubbish told stories they got very interested in digging to find out about the past:  They stopped being treasure hunters and started the science of Archaeology which has told us so much about how people used to live.  
 
If you were to dig in your gardens (if you live on Woodloes or your house was built in the last 70 years) you will find things that have been lost in the last fifty years since the houses were built. 
 
Perhaps you'll find a crisp packet from the 1980s that tells you that the family living in the house then used to eat their lunch in the garden.
 
But you might do better than that!
 
Because your gardens were farmland for hundreds of years before your houses were built (before that they were part of the Forest of Arden like mine) people used to bring the 'nightsoil' out from the town and spread it on the ground to help the crops grow.  The nightsoil was the contents of the rubbish heaps and middens that the people in town had in their back yards, the food scraps, the potato peelings, even the contents of the toilets (before there were flushing toilets and sewers).  In that night soil were also bits of broken things that people had thrown away, so, if you dig in you garden, you might find something interesting from long ago.
 
Of course, if you live close to the town centre, where people have lived for hundreds of years, you could find some very special things.
 
So maybe you could dig in your garden to see if you can find any traces of people who were there before you!
 
Or, if you can't do that, perhaps you could look in local parks and woods while you are out for your daily excercise and see if you can see old and broken things that people today have left and might one day tell people of the future about us.  Perhaps a bicycle wheel, a big lump of concrete or a broken toy.
Don't pick them up or take them home though! 
What do you think the people of the future will think about the things we are leaving behind?
Don't forget to tell me if you find anything interesting!
 
Happy Hunting!
 
Keir Mitchell
 
In case you missed it left the video about how to keep everyone safe while you are out and about in the street or in the park is below:
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