South Gloucestershire set to delve into its past

Looking for signs of Roman development, Paul Driscoll and Martin Davis using Geophysics

Looking for signs of Roman development, Paul Driscoll and Martin Davis using Geophysics

First published in News by

THOSE who have always fancied themselves as an Indiana Jones are being given the chance to try their hand at uncovering South Gloucestershire’s past.

Thanks to a recent lottery grant, worth £21,000, South Gloucestershire Council has just launched a new community archaeology project.

The aim of the scheme, called South Gloucestershire Community Archaeology Research Project (SCARP), is to set up, and train, volunteer groups across the district to investigate historic environments local to them.

Paul Driscoll, community archaeology officer at the council is heading up the scheme, he said: "We want to have a network of people going out across the district doing this work."

However, anyone thinking of grabbing their bullwhips, and preparing for adventures chasing around the globe are going to be disappointed.

Mr Driscoll said: "What the groups will do is non-obtrusive, there is no digging. The volunteers are trained in geophysics, which allows us to survey below the soil without digging anything up.

"Geophysics sends electric pulses into the ground which enables us to see what is down there. A stone wall doesn’t conduct electricity but a ditch that used to hold water does."

Mr Driscoll’s main responsibility at South Gloucestershire Council is responding to planning applications received by the local authority.

His department also maintains the district’s historic environment record, which lists all of the 6,000 archaeological sites the council knows about, from an artefact found in a garden to whole buildings.

It is hoped SCARP will help record the district’s history for future generations, and protect it from future development.

A pilot scheme for SCARP has already been launched involving the Southern Brooks Archaeology near Filton, Stoke Gifford and Patchway.

Martin Davis, an author and member of the group, said: "No matter where you go there is going to be something interesting under your feet and it’s about the questions we find ourselves asking, and then trying to uncover the answers."

As part of the scheme the council is hoping to launch heritage wardens who will keep an eye on historic sites in South Gloucestershire.

An information day on SCARP is being held at the South Gloucestershire Council offices in Thornbury on Friday, October 8 (10am-12pm).

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