In August of 2005, development work began on the addition of a third landscaped fishing pond on a site at Alverstone, IOW. ∞ During the initial ground works a large amount of wooden remains were exposed at which point the land owner made the decision to inform the local archaeological community.
KTAS of Wroxall, IOW, took on the contract and contacted Dr Neil Phillips of A.P.A.C. Ltd, S. Wales; who had just finished a nearby site, to direct the excavation. A team was quickly put in place to record and recover as much as possible. Volunteer diggers were appointed from the local community with the work overseen by five professional archaeologists.
Time was one of the main problems for the excavation; originally estimated at 6 weeks, the final time on site was 12. This led to financial difficulties with funding as well as considerable delay for land owner's projects.
A more debilitating problem was water; from above, from below or paradoxically from its absence. ∞ ∞As the excavation was well below the water level of the ponds to the west, a lot of up-welling occurred, keeping the deeper areas in almost constant flood. Bouts of heavy rainfall exacerbated the problem taking the flood level above the working areas. At one point the local fire brigade pumped the water from the site as part of a night training exercise.
Lack of water was also a problem, as most of the remains were waterlogged wood. Once the wood was uncovered then its exposure to the air meant its rapid deterioration.∞Unfortunately, the wood could not be removed immediately as it had to remain in situ to provide a coherent structure for recording, therefore, it had to be conserved in situ by keeping it wet.
The rescue and record phase for the site ended in November 2005 and post ex-is at present in limbo due to funding problems. Emergency conservation measures have been taken, both for the finds and the wooden remains, and the initial archive has been created. However, no report or interpretation can start until funding has been secured.
Island 2000 Trust is the organization that is pursuing the funding issue and the following is their statement:
The extraordinary archaeological finds in Alverstone in 2005 have left a lasting impression. Firstly, and physically, there's now a large lake where there wasn't one before, nicely visible from the road, footpaths and cycleway, drawing in wildlife and adding to the scenic beauty of the place. Secondly, in the minds of the community of the village: the fact that this very sleepy little place seemingly rather forgotten by the rest of the busy resorts of nearby Sandown Bay was once a thriving Island focal point and remained so for thousands of years. Mercantile, military and social, the level of activity seems almost overwhelming. But what was going on? Why was Alverstone such a vital place? These questions, and a hundred different answers, have become a part of the daily local conversation. Thanks to funding from the Local heritage Initiative and Heritage Lottery Fund, Island 2000 has been able to run a series of public lectures and is in the process of completing a permanent display for the village hall and the conservation and return to the village of a number of the wooden and metal finds themselves. But there is still so much to explore and reveal; it is this that keeps the story fresh in the community and is bringing archaeology to life here. We can only hope that it will be possible to fund the complete post-excavation work so urgently required, and surely justified, by this nationally significant discovery.
Island 2000 Trust. Island 2000 Group∞
In posting this project it is hoped that this extremely important site will be brought to the attention of a wider audience and in so doing it possibly raise funds towards the post ex. The following pages give some indication of the site and the finds. Interpretation at the moment is rather loose as no specialist reports or processing work has been undertaken. Comments would be greatly appreciated at this stage.
| CBA, St Mary's House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ.
tel: +(44) (0)1904 671417 | fax: +(44) (0)1904 671384 | email: