MORE than 100 people attended an open day hosted by Cotswold Canals Connected at a section of the ‘missing mile’ currently being excavated by Archaeology England.
There were three stalls at the event, organised for members of the public to learn about the history of the site, examine finds, and look at plans for the restoration works. Explaining the Missing Mile was led by project manager Darryl Rasdell, Finds from the Site was led by Archaeology England and Cotswold Canals Connected volunteers, and the Discovering Local History stall was led by Stroudwater Navigation Archive Charity, a Cotswold Canals Connected partner.
Archaeological excavations are taking place in the field next to the A38 roundabout, soon to be named Hydes Basin. This field forms part of the ‘missing mile’, a section of the Stroudwater Navigation Canal that will be reconstructed. The original canal was infilled in the 1960s.
A recently-built section of canal runs underneath the busy A38 roundabout at Whitminster. It includes two new bridges, a canal channel and towpath, and was made possible thanks to a £4 million grant from Highways England. The creation of Hydes Basin will be the next step in the restoration process, resulting in a large mooring area for boats and a canalside café.
Over the six weeks of the dig, Archaeology England, with the help of Cotswold Canals Connected volunteers, discovered evidence relating to a Romano-British settlement. This included enclosures, ditches and pits from which artefacts such as pottery and animal bone were recovered. This material represents domestic rubbish from Romano-British people and will help archaeologists to understand how they lived, what they ate, farming practices, potential local industries and trade links.
At the open day, the public were able to examine finds from the site, which included an ornate piece of Roman-era Samian ware, lots of black burnished ware fragments, and a rare blue glass bead found by a Cotswold Canals Connected volunteer.
Coun Catherine Braun, leader of Stroud District Council, who attended, said: “The archaeological open day was a great success! It was fantastic to see people of all ages interested in this site and the wider project to restore the canal for all to enjoy. It is really exciting to see the Cotswold Canals Connected project gain momentum, with community involvement and engagement a crucial part of the canal restoration work.”
Cotswold Canals Connected is a partnership of organisations led by Stroud District Council and the Cotswold Canals Trust, which is restoring the canal network.