Caistor Roman Project (CRP) – a community archaeology group centred around the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at present-day Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk – received an unexpected morale-booster in August: an emergency grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which enabled them to follow up on geophysics carried out in 2019. Under strict COVID-19 procedures, they were able to dig some small exploratory trenches on a site close to the Roman town.
Commenting on the work they have been able to accomplish, Mike Pinner, Research Director of the Project, said: ‘We had resigned ourselves to a quiet year, with nothing for our members to look forward to after the major success of our temple excavation in 2019 (see CA 356). Getting the grant changed everything. It enabled us to buy PPE equipment, and hand and equipment sanitisers, and the owner of the hotel in whose grounds we were working allowed us the use of a wedding marquee to store and sanitise all our equipment. We did a detailed risk assessment, and established careful procedures that meant we were able to dig for two weeks using three pods of six people in each, socially distanced and masked. It was a valuable experiment in how to conduct a dig under COVID-19 conditions, and one that will stand us in good stead should the current conditions continue for any length of time. In addition to work associated with the grant, we carried out some important (and more easily socially distanced) geophysics and GPR work in the area later in the year, and are currently analysing the results.’
The emergency grant also included a generous sum for a thorough overhaul of the group’s website, which went live just before Christmas, keeping the original domain name: http://caistorromanproject.org/. After all this work, there was just enough money left to purchase a drone, which the group hopes to put to good use this year.
Mike continued: ‘So thank you NLHF, and all those millions who play the lottery every week. CRP has benefited in so many ways from being able to continue its vital work. Like everyone else, we’re hoping for better things in 2021.’