We moved to the Forest a few years ago and being completely new to the area I set about joining clubs and getting out and about to meet people. One day at my Book Club I heard someone mentioning Foresters’ Forest and that there was an Archaeology Project. I thought, “Sounds interesting, I’ll do that!” This was during the development stage of Foresters’ Forest in 2015 and I’ve been involved ever since.
I’ve had some fantastic experiences through the project. I’ve worked on the LIDAR data survey, taken part in three archaeological digs and have recently got involved in a project researching Palmers Flat where I live. I’m enjoying this research working with a friend who lives nearby, and we are finding out some fascinating information about our locality. I’ve been able to use lots of different techniques such as computer research into ancestry and looking at archives and maps. Some of this research I was already familiar with but seeing it all come together into a picture of the past is interesting.
I have found learning to do the LIDAR surveying very rewarding. It can be a bit arduous, but it really changes the way you look at the landscape forever. I now see features everywhere that help me recognise the small quarries, mines and tramways that were once dotted everywhere. Finding a charcoal platform at Birchhill was exciting. There are actually very many of them in the Forest and I find myself spotting them wherever I go.
The digs have been such a pleasure to take part in. Working with other volunteers and experts has taught me so much. It is such a special feeling to be uncovering things that haven’t been seen by human eyes for such a long time. Another volunteer and I were lucky enough to find a piece of mediaeval pottery at the Yorkley Dig. The feeling as we spotted something different in amongst the earth was thrilling. Then scraping away and gradually revealing a piece of the past with people eagerly waiting to see what we’d found – it was such a great experience!
Volunteering on the project has been full of positives. I’ve made friends, such as Cathy who I’m working with on the research project and Elaine and David who I work with on the LIDAR project. It feels great to be involved in something that is all about looking after the Forest of Dean and keeping it special for future generations. More than anything, taking part in an archaeological dig has been something I have wanted to do since my university days, and finally through Foresters’ Forest I’m getting to realise that dream.