Tea at the Temple – with an archaeological theme

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On 28 July the third and last in a series of a series of informal drop-in sessions will be held at The Temple in Wanstead Park. Taking the theme "Back Garden Finds", it is timed to coincide with the 2013 Festival of British Archaeology. The object is to give people the opportunity to bring along interesting finds from their gardens and look at artefacts which have been found in the park.

The "Tea at the Temple" events aim to engage local residents and visitors with aspects of the park's history, and are organised jointly by Epping Forest staff and local conservation group the Friends of Wanstead Parklands. The May and June events were modestly successful, with 20-30 people coming over the course of an hour to chat over tea and biscuits, look at images of the park and ask questions.

Although “Back Garden Finds” is designed as an informal and fun event, the degree of interest it arouses may lead to a much bigger project.

Wanstead is best known as the site of two successive great houses, which were surrounded by elaborate landscaped gardens, some areas of which are now built over. The park has also produced evidence of occupation dating from the Late Bronze Age, and extending through the Roman and Mediaeval periods. A selection of these finds will be on display at the event.

The Friends, and their former sponsoring group the Wanstead Parklands Community Project, have been investigating the archaeology of Wanstead Park since 2005 using geophysical surveying, LiDAR, a survey of historic aerial photography, and some small scale evaluation trenching.

One of the things the Friends would now like to do is to look at the park’s wider context, while raising Wanstead residents' awareness of their local heritage and encouraging community participation.

An option they are considering for the future is to carry out a garden survey of casual archaeological finds throughout Wanstead, Aldersbrook and the vicinity, initially by leaflet, and then follow up any apparent finds hot-spots via door-to-door canvassing and trial trenching. Particular objectives are to obtain clues to the nature and extent of Roman, mediaeval and early modern activity in Wanstead village, Mob's Hole hamlet (around the Nightingale pub), Aldersbrook, Snaresbrook and the vicinity, as these areas have never been archaeologically investigated.

Have you ever found any interesting or unusual objects in your garden? Ever wondered about any odd coins, bits of pottery, pieces of glass and metal or worked stone? “Back Garden Finds” may help you find out what they are.

Bring your finds along on Sunday, 28 July, at The Temple in Wanstead Park, between 1:30-2:30pm. There is no charge, and refreshments will be provided. If an object is too large or awkward to carry, bring a photograph instead.

FBA 2013 logoThe Festival of British Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of the past through objects and the traces people have left on the landscape. It tries to discover what people did, what they ate, what tools they used, where they moved around and how they earned a living.

Between 13-28 July, the Festival of British Archaeology is showcasing the very best of British archaeology, by presenting hundreds of special events organised and hosted by museums, heritage organisations, national and countryside parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists across the United Kingdom.