Young pupils enjoy uncovering history on Matford dig with local housebuilder

30 July 2019

Going digging in Devon for most youngsters usually means grabbing a bucket and spade and heading for the beach – but these Exminster pupils enjoyed a different experience altogether on a housebuilder’s land near their school.

Bovis Homes Exminster Primary School
Julian Nuttall, of Bovis Homes, with Year 5 pupils on the dig 
Exminster Primary School pupils took part in an archaeological excavation funded by Bovis Homes on their new South West Exeter development in Matford, searching for historical artefacts as part of a school careers week.

The nine and ten-year olds made a number of finds on the day, including some worked-stone and flint as they looked for pottery, tools and animal bones with the help of representatives from AC Archaeology and Bovis Homes.

Year 5 pupil, Charlotte, said: “It was great getting to see 2,000-year-old pottery fragments. We found some worked stone and flint and it was interesting to hear about how finds are scientifically dated and examined.”

Prehistoric pottery, a clay pipe, post-Medieval glass and oyster shell are among items that have been found on the site, where pre-Iron Age roundhouses once stood.

Pupils had a classroom presentation on archaeology and got to see ancient pottery before joining Bovis Homes landscape architect Chris Trollope and major projects manager Julian Nuttall, who is Charlotte’s father, on site.

Fiona Jones, Year 5 teacher, said: “The children really got stuck in and thoroughly enjoyed their day with Bovis Homes and AC Archaeology. They learnt a great deal about roundhouses and the importance of archaeological digs. It was very rewarding to experience local history.

“To see pottery from the pre-Iron Age was a wonderful learning tool and to get out there and do their own digging just topped it all off – they were so excited to get their hands dirty!”

This is the second stage of excavation at the site, which covers around 95 hectares. The aim is to identify, examine and date any finds made.

Bovis Homes will start building a range of new homes by the site, which will also be the location of a new primary, secondary school and nursery later this year.

Julian said: “Chris and I were delighted to take the kids out on site, to work with the archaeologists and see for themselves what an excavation involves. We would like to thank the landowners for allowing Bovis Homes to start excavations early in school time and allow events like this one to be possible.

“The pupils were so impressed with the pottery and loved getting stuck in with their own digging.

“This is a wonderful site and we are working closely with AC Archaeology on this phase. We look forward to starting the groundwork for our own homes later in the year.”