Here at The Chester House Estate we are rich with history and archaeology and we will be running opportunities for the community to get hands on with history!
The Chester House Estate is a unique heritage site. There is evidence for 10,000 years of human activity in the landscape, from flint scatters dating the Mesolithic (c. 10,000 to 4,000 BC) to a complex of traditional farm buildings dating back to the 17th century. Within the Estate lies one of the best preserved walled Roman small towns in Britain, known as Irchester. At present, much of this heritage is buried; the challenge is to bring it to life and tell its stories.
The Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC) is a state-of-the-art facility located within the Chester House Estate, which is the new archaeological archive repository for the whole of Northants. The ARC will ultimately hold more than 20,000 boxes of archaeological finds from across Northamptonshire. This stretch of the Nene Valley is one of the richest parts of the country for archaeological investigation and archives.
The Irchester Field School
In June and July, the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History (SAAH) and University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) conduct archaeological excavations within the suburbs of the small Roman town. The Irchester Field School is in partnership with volunteers and staff from the Chester House Estate and the ARC.
Archaeological survey and excavations are revealing houses, workshops and cemeteries, allowing us to better understand the lives of the town’s inhabitants. The Irchester Field School is a long-term collaborative project that supports local community and school involvement in archaeological research. The collaboration is enhancing our understanding of this archaeologically rich landscape, and is helping to make archaeological research and archives accessible and engaging.
Who is involved?
The team includes staff and students from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History and University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) at the University of Leicester. The excavation provides fieldwork training opportunities for undergraduate students, many of whom are studying by distance learning. Many students fit their studies around jobs and caring responsibilities. They travel from all over the UK and further afield, including the US and Australia.
Students work alongside volunteers from the Chester House Estate and students from the Creating Tomorrow College, a further education college based at the Estate. Some of the volunteers have been involved with excavations here for many years, while for others this is their first experience of an archaeological excavation. Creating Tomorrow College prepares young adults for independent living and provides employment opportunities as they transition into adulthood.
The Irchester Field School is central to the partnership between the University of Leicester and the Chester House Estate https://chesterhouseestate.org/learning/uol-partnership/, which encompasses learning, research, and community engagement.
What is on offer during the Irchester Field School?
FREE tours of the excavation weekdays from Monday 19th June – Friday 7th July 2023, 10 am onwards - including an opportunity to interact with the archaeologists, handle finds, and discover what happens on an archaeological excavation.
You do not need to pre-book for tours during the excavation, entry to the site is FREE and parking is FREE (pre-booking not required).
We are hosting a Roman Festival at the Estate Saturday 25th / Sunday 26th June. We are offering free tours of the excavation throughout the weekend https://chesterhouseestate.org/roman-festival-2023/.
Past Archaeological Digs Photo Library
Scroll through to find out what our fantastic students, volunteers and, team got up to as they uncovered history.
Follow along throughout with our Archaeological Digs story, as our team uncovers 10,000 years of history. Throughout the two week dig we will release updates with latest finds, updates and interviews with real archaeologists.
Follow below for all updates:
School of Archaeology and Ancient History https://le.ac.uk/archaeology
University of Leicester Archaeological Services https://le.ac.uk/ulas