The Cooke e-learning Foundation has been successful in gaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a partnership with local residents to form the Castle Hill Archaeology Project (CHAP). The project involves the identification of buildings and sites of historical importance, which will be collated onto a map and website created for the Beaumont Leys community in order to share our heritage with others.
The Beaumont Leys neighbourhood in the north of Leicester has a rich history recorded in the Domesday Book and is closely linked to Simon De Montfort and the Knights Templars. The project's findings will be shared with schools and local community groups and we hope that more people will be inspired to visit the site and encourage children and young people to take more interest in their local heritage. Residents, acting as volunteers, will be able to record memories and stories of people who have lived and worked in the area, document information about significant buildings and sites of interest. They will also have the opportunity to develop new skills and undertake a short formal course leading to a qualification, whilst others, as experienced amateur archaeologists, will be able to support people on a one to one basis as mentors.
During the summer volunteers undertook the first excavation of, what is known locally as, the 'Roman Glade' on the Park.
This is just to the west of the scheduled monument of Castle Hill, and was known to yield some artefacts ,which had turned up on the surface over the years. Ten volunteers turned up to help excavate a couple of test pits; the site has never been excavated and little is known about it. The first test pit was excavated over the site of a slate drain that was found last year whilst putting in some seats. Once they had got through a couple of feet of very dense clay they found the slate drain and excavated further around it to uncover Roman pottery, animal bones, worked flint and a small metal stud.
Following on from this excavation, it has been decided that another dig will take place in the spring, which will hopefully link the two test pits, followed by regular excavations in the to investigate the history of the area.
Visit the CHAP website for more information