Examples of community based archaeological projects
St Rumbold's Well
St Rumbold’s Well project is a good example of the use of an archaeological monument to contribute towards the community placing greater value on the historic environment of a town, in this case Buckingham. The current scheduled well structure dates to 1623 but there are suggestions that there were earlier structures, as a well is recorded in Speed’s map of 1611 and there are references back to the fifteenth century regarding the local veneration of St Rumbold.
Recent archaeological investigation concluded that the medieval field pattern was developed after the well had become established. Work to preserve what remained of the seventeenth century conduit house was undertaken in 2000 after a working party called the St Rumbold’s Well Group was formed by The Buckingham Society in advance of a proposed housing development.
This group undertook the survey of the remaining structure and surrounding area and also made recommendations on preservation of the structure, fencing around it to protect it, better footpaths to it and an information board. The actions undertaken by this group have resulted in the production of a leaflet of a walk from the town to the well by Aylesbury Vale District Council, as well as the leaflet the St Rumbold's Well Group did themselves, to make the significance of the site more widely known to residents and visitors.
Stewkely Moat is not a scheduled monument, though it is a very well preserved medieval moated site. Recently the new owner contacted the County Archaeology Service for advice on what could be done to improve the condition of the monument, which was overgrown.To afford it some more protection Aylesbury Vale District Council included it in the Conservation Area for Stewkley in 2001.
As a significant historic feature it could be reintegrated into the village to provide a positive benefit to the conservation area. There are plans to thin out and establish a gap in the privet hedge between the moat and an adjacent footpath for better views of the monument as well as clear the trees and undergrowth from the moat itself, with funding from the English Heritage Monument Management Programme.
Common Ground started a parish map scheme in the 1980s. The parish map is compiled by locals who record their locality and what they value about it, which sometimes includes archaeology. They record what is special and distinctive about the area and are a starting point for action. Several parishes in Buckinghamshire have undertaken these parish maps. You can find out which and find links to any existing websites at www.commonground.org.uk.
The Local Heritage Initiative, run by the Countryside Agency and the Heritage Lottery Fund, has a number of examples of community archaeology projects on its website. Unfortunately, the Local Heritage Initiative scheme has now ended but there are other sources of funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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