The site was alive with experimental reconstructions, including roman ceramic production and medieval salt making, trench tours and even a BBQ. The excavation site is in the stunning Purbeck landscape and has yielded many interesting discoveries including a medieval salt working complex, a roman pottery kiln and numerous workshops.
Visitor Steve Town, said: “I really enjoyed the open day at the Wytch Farm site, it was very informative, educational and enjoyable. I especially liked how the discoveries and artefacts were used through the experimental archaeology to help inform the what, how, and why of the discoveries made by the students."
Staff and students from Bournemouth University (BU) have been excavating the site, located on the fringes of Poole harbour, for the past six weeks. The site, dating to the Medieval period, features a range of clay built structures alongside industrial activity. One of the structures, a terraced workshop, has has evidence of multiple phases of industrial activity and craft production. The small industrial community would have likely witnessed the construction of the nearby Corfe Castle and was possibly part of a network of small industrial groups that inhabited the harbour edges. Seemingly centred on the production of salt, the industrial community identified during the project, is pivotal in understanding the wider medieval economy in the region.
Project Director and BU Archaeology lecturer, Dr Derek Pitman, said: “Welcoming people from around Dorset and beyond to our site was so exciting and we’ve enjoyed sharing our passion for archaeology with all of our visitors. It’s incredible to imagine that this peaceful part of Dorset’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was home to a bustling industrial community. Much of the stunning landscape in this area bears the legacy of millennia of industrial activity and human habituation. It’s a real privilege to dig such a site from a time period we know very little about in this area, beyond the focal point of Corfe Castle.”
The excavation is part of Bournemouth University’s Productive Landscapes, Archaeological Communities and their Environs (PLACE) Project that seeks to understand the relationship between ancient communities and their surrounding landscape of resources. The wider 2018 programme includes a range of trial trenches and surveys aimed at understanding the interface between terrestrial and maritime areas.
Poole harbour has been a port of trade for hundreds of years. It was significant in later prehistory, evidenced by the green island causeway, and developed into a major port in the Medieval Period. The harbour was used extensively by the romans and witnessed invasions by the Vikings. Throughout later prehistory and early historic periods, the harbour-side areas were host to a variety of industrial communities producing ceramic, salt and metalwork. The project will continue post-excavation and fieldwork throughout the year and can find out more on their Facebook page: PLACE Facebook page.