DETAILS of the 13 sites where archaeological digs will be taking place this weekend have been revealed as Malmesbury’s Big Athelstan Dig officially begins. 

The public digs as part of celebrations marking the 1100th anniversary of the accession of King Athelstan – the first King of England.

Each site will be open to the public from 10.30am to 4pm on Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7.

The sites with public digs taking place are: 

  • Latch Cottage, Holloway
  • St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
  • St Aldhelm’s Church
  • Roundmead House, off St John’s Street
  • 30 Roundmead, off St John’s Street
  • 2 Parliament Row
  • Memorial Gates at St Aldhelm’s Mead
  • 79 High Street 
  • *Tangled Garden, King’s Walk
  • Westgate Cottage, Gloucester Street
  • 33a Burnivale
  • West Lodge, Bristol Street
  • United Reformed Church, St Mary’s Street

Test pits will be around a metre square each.

Three other sites of archaeological interest will also be open to visit including St. Helen’s Chapel on Bristol Street; St. Mary’s Hall at The Triangle and Abbey House Manor.

Volunteer archaeologists will be on hand at Abbey House Manor to help explain a previously excavated profile and explain the development of the area around the Abbey.

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology will also be in Malmesbury preparing the various test pit sites for excavation with support of students from Malmesbury School 

Cllr Kim Power who heads up the Athelstan 1100 Big Dig Team, said: “This is going to be a fun event for all.  

“We hope to see lots of visitors to the ‘Big Athelstan Dig’ weekend as uncovering the past is always thrilling!  

“Visitors will be excited to see such a variety of sites, some of which are not usually open to the public. 

“We are hoping for some interesting finds and we know that the ‘Big Athelstan Dig’ is going to inspire more people to become interested in the history of the place where they live. 

“We could even find King Athelstan himself! 
“We have been working in partnership with Cotswold Archaeology to organise this weekend. Some of their archaeologists are local to Malmesbury and are very enthusiastic. 

“We have also had a huge number of volunteers come forward who want to experience digging a test pit or to clean and record finds, including young people and students from YAC and Malmesbury School.”
There will be a ‘Finds Centre’ at Malmesbury Town Hall, where finds will be cleaned and recorded by volunteers supervised by an expert from Cotswold Archaeology.
Cotswold Archaeology are also bringing along some Anglo Saxon ‘handling finds’ from other sites, which visitors can see and hold. 
There will also be interesting activities for children including at St Mary’s Hall, the 1st Malmesbury King Athelstan Scouting group are organising a seeded tray event.

The Chippenham and District Metal Detecting Club, are also creating seeded trays for children to try their hand at metal detecting finds at Cuckingstool Mead.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School will be showcasing some Anglo Saxon related activities. 
On Sunday, Time Team presenter and archaeologist Phil Harding will be visiting the dig sites and the Finds Centre at the Town Hall, talking to volunteers about their finds and their experiences over the weekend. 
Chair of Malmesbury Town Team Campbell Ritchie said: “Digging back to the time of Athelstan and our Anglo-Saxon past is exciting but whatever may be discovered this weekend, we will be helping tell more of Malmesbury's rich history. 

“We would really like to thank all the property owners, volunteers, the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Cotswold Archaeology and local businesses and supporters for making Malmesbury’s Big Athelstan Dig possible.”

Trail maps of the dig sites are available from the Town Hall and at each location on the trail and can also be downloaded from the Athelstan 1100 website here.