The creation of a new 18th century style garden around the dovecote in the grounds of Moseley Hall Hospital, by The Moseley Society volunteer team has led to an exciting new discovery.
Ground works were stopped when the edge of a circular brick structure about 13 feet in diameter were revealed. This set in motion a programme of further archaeological investigation which was undertaken by members of the Birmingham branch of the Young Archaeologists Club (BYAC).
Over two days, around twenty budding archaeologists, aged between six and seventeen years, were called in to investigate the site with the aid of Kirsty Nichol from Birmingham Archaeology, Mike Hodder the City of Birmingham Archaeologist and Beth Osman, amongst others, organiser of BYAC. Turf and topsoil were removed by helpers whilst the Young Archaeologists set about revealing the buried brickwork.
Kirsty said ‘the day has been hugely popular with the youngsters. It is difficult to find excavations where volunteers have the opportunity to get involved, especially YACs. They are a very active and enthusiastic group in Birmingham and have covered a wide range of projects prior to this, but this is really the first opportunity that they have had to get their hands dirty’.
Besides digging, the Young Archaeologists were instructed in surveying, and helped undertake a geophysical survey to examine other areas nearby to see whether there are any further buried structures within the area of the gardens. Also, in order to put the buildings and the excavation into context, the youngsters visited the Dovecote where some of the background history was explained by Roy Cockel, from the Moseley Society, using the permanent exhibition of plans and pictures displayed within.
Mike Hodder, the City of Birmingham Archaeologist, explained that ‘Most archaeological excavations in Birmingham, and the rest of the country, take place as part of new development programmes. This was a rare opportunity to help a local society find out more about their site and contribute to their work in displaying the dovecote and its surroundings’.
The brick structure, when finally exposed, is thought to be a subterranean water cistern, and comparisons are being sought. The long-term future of the structure is undecided, as it is situated within an area previously intended as a formal garden. However, plans are now afoot to incorporate it within the garden design as a permanent feature revealing another element of the site’s historic past.
If you are interested in joining the Birmingham Young Archaeologists Club log on to www.byac.org.uk. Alternatively log on to the www.britach.ac.uk website and follow the links for information on the national network of the UK’s fastest growing youth organisation.