Students dig deep to uncover past

BITS of bone, pottery and an old coin were among the items found by pupils hoping to uncover the past of a North Tyneside village.

Pupils from John Spence High School in North Shields and Wellfield Middle School in Whitley Bay spent two days digging at seven sites in Earsdon Village to learn more about its history.

The two-day project was part of a Higher Education Field Academy project supported by Newcastle University.

Speaking during the dig, university research assistant Andrew Agate said: “We are looking at the history of the village through archaeology – things like building materials and things that have been thrown away – to try and work out when the village started.

“We think it is medieval – 1300s onwards, and we are trying to confirm that.

“We haven’t found anything of special interest so far. I would expect that to come later on.

“In archaeology, the interesting things are always at the bottom.

“One of the more interesting finds was a 1936 shilling silver coin along with lots of building materials.”

Jill Armstrong, head of technology at John Spence High, said: “There are seven test pits which the students have marked out themselves.

“We have four students on each, two from each school. They dig 10cm at a time and analyse what they find.

“There are three sites in the grounds of the Eccles Hall, one in a back garden at West View and two in the grassy area in Woodland Close. We are hoping to find most of the things there.

“When we finish, we will be handing out awards for the deepest pit and most finds.”

Once the dig is complete, the students taking part will spend a day at the university, where they will get help dating and analysing their finds.

John Spence High student Victoria McAlpine said she had not previously considered a career in archaeology but that the experience had made her think again.

The 14-year-old, currently taking a history GCSE, said: “It’s been quite good, not really what I was expecting.

“Archaeology is something that I might consider now.

“We’ve found a clay pipe, pottery and some glass and bits of a wall. It’s really exciting.

“Actually doing it makes it easier to learn and pick up things.”