STEP (Slaughterbridge Training Excavation Project)

Project Design

This is a shortened version of the full project design. It has been drawn up following MoRPHE, the new project management standard used by English Heritage. The project began it the summer of 2003, since then numerous members of the public have been involved with the excavations. Most of the students so far involved have come from the University of Bristol, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and from the United Arab Emirates. An interim report is due for publication in 2008.

Summary Description: The site at Slaughterbridge is part of the visitor attraction of The Arthurian Centre, which provides interpretation for visitors of the 6th century Arthur Stone, which is inscribed with latin and ogham, and which lies in one of the sites reputed to be of King Arthur’s last battle. Slaughterbridge is a site who’s situation and archaeology are highly suitable for providing training opportunities for university archaeology students, and experience for a more general public. Short periods of excavation can be carried out through out the year, whenever they are needed by the students, for their courses, or as part of National Archaeology Week, for the public. The excavation is put in context with practicals and lectures on surveying, using maps, digital resources, aerial photographs, planning, finds identification and recording, All of these make use of features of the site.

Background: The sites suitability for training excavation experience is mostly due to the geology. The stability of the soil is such that no backfilling is required (metre high sections have remained exposed and stable for 5 years). Also Cornwall’s lack of frosts mean that the features exposed through excavation remain on show to the public, which adds to the visitor experience of the site. The site is easily accessible, with on site training rooms, parking, loos, and camping. The site is not under threat of development, and the landowner is the main instigator of the project. The archaeology of the site is varied. It consists of buried remains of a medieval village with a mill (Old Melorn), an 18th century garden with water features and mosaics, and even a 19th century ticket office. The structural features exposed during excavation are clearly defined, and the stratigraphy is not complicated, making it easy for first time excavators. The project will also contribute data to the Tintagel Environs Survey Project (TESP, a separate project), which also has a strong element of training.

Aims and Objectives:
  • To provide training opportunity for novice students.
  • To provide “have a go” opportunity for the public, and schools.
  • To understand the context of the Arthur Stone in its 18th century garden setting.
  • To understand the site of the village of Old Melorn.
  • To consolidate appropriate remains for public display.

Project Scope: The scope of STEP is restricted to the features on land belonging to The Arthurian Centre. However, there is no time restriction; excavation can continue for as long as there are features to dig, and students or volunteers willing to carry out the work.

Interfaces: The Tintagel Environs Survey Project (TESP) results will provide a wider context for the work on STEP as it will look at the ten parishes surrounding the Slaughterbridge. STEP will provide data as one of the sites studied in depth as part of the TESP survey. The training experience given by TESP fieldwork will contribute to that provided by STEP.

Project Team Structure:
Project Executive – Joe Parsons (Manager of The Arthurian Centre).
Project Manager – Nick Hanks. Additional specialisms/responsibilities:- lecturing/training, project & excavation records manager, documentary research.
(Core Team Members – Joe Parsons, Nick Hanks, Dr. Niall Finneran.)
Expert – Dr. Niall Finneran. Excavation Supervisor. Additional specialisms/responsibilities:- lecturing/training, lithics, liaising with academics/academic departments.
Expert – Joe Parsons. Site Manager. Additional specialisms/responsibilities:- finds storage, publicity, exhibition, documentary research.
Expert – Sam Parsons. Local Education Liaison.
Expert – Rachel Foster. Experimental / Reconstruction Archaeologist.
Expert – Vacant. Cornish Pottery Analyst.

Budget (Resources): This is nearly a zero budget project (though the site and the team do incur some significant expenses), sources of funding for parts of the project costs or expansions of the project will be looked into. Mostly the project will rely upon the resources that the core project team members can possibly call upon. Any contribution from participating academic institutions in the form of time, loan of equipment, or fees for lecturing, would be most welcome.