Diss archaeology dig to shed light on townspeople ‘not in the history books’

The site behind the Diss Town Council offices, which will be the location of a community archaeological dig ANL-150225-150954009
The site behind the Diss Town Council offices, which will be the location of a community archaeological dig ANL-150225-150954009

What could everyday rubbish buried under the ground in Diss tell us about the history of the town and the residents who once lived in it?

This is the question behind a Time Team-style community archaeological dig taking place in the town next month, organised by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Run by the Centre of East Anglian Studies (CEAS) and involving numerous organisations, Diss High School pupils and members of the public, the project will see the excavation of a plot of land behind the council offices on Market Hill, running down to the Mere from the medieval street front.

Tom Licence, director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies, told the Diss Express: “I think it’s an opportunity to learn about people who aren’t otherwise very well represented in the history books.

“Before modern waste disposal, people always used to bury all their crockery, bottles and so on in the ground. By looking through their rubbish, we can actually get quite intimate details of their lives.”

Groups taking part include the Young Archaeologists’ Clubs of Norwich and the Waveney Valley, Norvic Archaeology, the Diss Heritage Triangle committee, and the Suffolk Archaeological Field Group, who will be conducting a magnetometry survey prior to the dig to map the site for buried artefacts.

Experts will be on hand for impromptu talks throughout the day as finds emerge, and students from UEA Make Media will also be filming the project to be made into a documentary, for showing at venues like the Diss Corn Hall.

Mr Licence, who is also the author of the historical text What The Victorians Threw Away, said the recent formation of local clubs showed there was still an “appetite” for archaeology amongst young people.

“I think the main thing is getting people to own the archaeology of their town, by helping to put together the stories so they feel like they have made a positive contribution,” he added.

The project is set to take place across the weekend of Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15, with the dig going on from 10am until 5pm on both days.

In addition, CEAS is also collaborating with town traders for an activity trail geared at children, in which a series of historical objects found on previous digs in Norfolk will be hidden in various shop windows.