17th August 2018: A community excavation at the site of a former Benedictine Abbey at Ramsey in Cambridgeshire is underway and will be open to visitors this weekend.
In its heyday, Ramsey Abbey was one of the richest abbeys in England. Most of the Benedictine monastery was demolished following the dissolution but some remains were incorporated into Ramsey Abbey House which is now a secondary school, Abbey College. OA East conducted several archaeological investigations within the school grounds between 1998 and 2002 and in 2012, pupils from the school, together with members of the local community, took part in test pit excavations within the scheduled area as part of a Young Roots project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and with permission from Historic England.
The original layout of the monastic buildings is still not well understood and in 2017 a community archaeology group, Ramsey Abbey Community Project (RACP), formed to conduct the first comprehensive geophysical survey of the school grounds. RACP was begun by members of the Warboys Archaeology Project who were initially trained in the use of geophysical survey equipment by OA East as part of the Jigsaw Cambridgeshire network of community volunteer archaeologists. Earlier this year, RACP successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to excavate some of the potential archaeological anomalies identified by their survey and to run public events to raise the profile of this important heritage site.
The first of two two-week excavations commenced this week with the supervision of archaeologists from OA East and this weekend the site will be open to members of the public. Visitors are welcome to drop by between 10am - 4pm on Saturday 18th or Sunday 19th August 2018 to meet the project team, take a tour of the site and see the finds. On Sunday 19th August, there will be a ceramicist making replica medieval tiles similar to ones previously found at Abbey College.
You can hear a BBC Radio Cambridgeshire interview with Roger Mould of RACP on this morning’s Dotty McLeod Breakfast Show from 1:26:15 here, and the team will share updates from the excavation and open days on their new website in the coming week.