DIG! - The Gallery, The Guildhall, Winchester

Press Release: 24/11/2003

5 Dec 2003 – 4 Jan 2004

Put the winter behind you! Visit DIG! and see images taken on one of the hottest days of the year as a group of volunteers dig the dirt in a Hampshire field!

August 2003 saw Winchester Museums Service, with over 90 volunteers, take its Community Archaeology Project, designed to enable local communities to participate in an archaeological excavation, to a site just outside Owslebury.

A new aspect to the project this year was the involvement of a local artist to provide a different perspective on the process of archaeological excavation. The work generated is intended to broaden the appeal of the gallery exhibition to people interested in archaeology and history, as well as catering to the usual art gallery visitor.

The artist chosen for the project was a young local photographer, Steve Bliss. Steve completed a four-year course in photography, media, design and communications at Plymouth in June 2003 and is now working freelance. He specialises in portraiture and depictions of youth and popular culture, so an archaeological excavation presented something of a challenge!

He spent several days on site familiarising himself with the archaeological process, the landscape and the people participating in the excavation. His visit coincided with one of the hottest days on record and the images he has produced vividly evoke the experience of digging under such extreme conditions.

The exhibition will also include a small display about the archaeology of the site with a selection of hands-on activities for young visitors such as quizzes, object handling and puzzles.

The archaeological project that inspired Steve’s work involved the examination part of a large Iron Age and Romano-British farmstead site, about 6km southeast of Winchester. The site was extensively excavated in the 1960s, revealing almost continuous occupation from the Middle Iron Age (about 400BC) through to the end of the Roman period (about 400AD).

This summer’s work followed up new geophysical surveys, revealing new features and allowing two trenches to be located accurately over them. The main target was a large "banjo" enclosure, (so-called because of its shape) a sub-circular ditched enclosure dating from the Middle Iron Age, probably used for the corralling of stock. Two sections of the ditch were uncovered enabling the true size of the enclosure to be established.

The exhibition will provide a brief glimpse, in the depths of winter, of what it was like to dig on an excavation, on chalk, in an open field during the hottest summer on record! Taste the dust! Feel the heat! And don’t forget the bottled water!

Opening Times – Tuesday to Saturday 10 - 4; Sunday 12 – 4; Closed - Christmas Eve to New Years Day inclusive.

email:museums@winchester.gov.uk Tel 01962 848269