In 2019, a total of 61 test pits were excavated in eight rural communities in the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland and UK as part of the CARE participative community archaeology project intended to advance knowledge of the archaeological potential and historic development of the settlements and the social impact of the activity.
Overall, the results for the first year have been immensely promising. The test pit excavations have shown archaeological layers to be more extensive and better preserved than expected in many places, and a substantial number of artefacts are being recovered including a good complement of pre-modern material. At this stage it is too early to offer firm conclusions about the development of any individual settlements, and it is certainly too early to begin to re-valuate current models for settlement development, but we are hopeful that we will able to do both these by the end of the CARE project.
The excavations have also already shown that participative community test pit excavation is feasible in the Czech Republic, Netherlands and Poland, and furthermore that it stimulates interest in and positive befits to local people. In the Czech Republic, nine test pits in two villages in Moravia involved 20-30 participants whose interest was keen and cumulative, with enthusiasm for in the idea of archaeology writing new stories stimulated by involvement in the excavation process. In the Netherlands, 31 test pits were excavated by more than 100 volunteers in four villages in the Het Groenewud area of Brabant, close to the border with Belgium. Again, the project aroused considerable and cumulative interest, with soaring volunteer numbers and shortlisting for national and regional heritage awards. In Poland, the excavation of 12 test pits in Chycina remarkably involved 25% of all the village’s inhabitants. In the UK, nine test pits were excavated in Old Dalby, Leicestershire by c. 50 volunteers who are keen to carry out further archaeological excavations. Volunteers in the Netherlands and UK participated in a psychological surveys that have produced important new evidence for the positive impact of participation in local archaeological excavations (in prep).