Young archaeologists dig up the past at Ford Colliery

The Big Dig at Ford Colliery
The Big Dig at Ford Colliery

Youngsters were given a hands-on introduction to archaeology when they took part in The Big Dig at Ford Colliery.

The event, organised by the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, was part of the ongoing commemorations to mark the 500th anniversary of the battle.

Its legacy was always to provide new and stimulating challenges and opportunities for local people and The Big Dig attracted more than 300 people, who all helped to make some exciting discoveries about the former coalmine, and the people who lived and worked there.

Jane Miller, education officer of the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum said: “We had over 100 people over the weekend, including three Young Archaeologists’ Clubs (YAC) –Flodden YAC, Edinburgh YAC and North Pennines YAC. This included children from as far afield as Fife and Penrith!

“The community day on Sunday was a huge success, we found out more about the history of the site from members of the public who came along with their stories of relatives who had once lived at Ford Moss.”

The Big Dig also brought in around 200 school children attending over the three days from Chirnside Primary School, Duns Primary School, Longridge Towers School and Tweedmouth Middle School.

The children were busily employed digging, metal detecting, looking at census records from the archives and touring the site.

The event showed how archaeology has fired the imagination.

Although the digging produced fragments, with skilled interpretation the story these tell is always greater than the sum of their parts.

The former coal mine at Ford Moss was last used in 1918, and now only two of its structures remain visible. However, the site is rich in buried archaeological treasure, as was revealed last year during the first Big Dig for youngsters.

The Big Dig also included guided tours of the site looking at the history, archaeology and geology of the area, aimed at piecing together a picture of what life was like in this small, rural mining community more than 100 years ago.

Jane said: “People of all ages love archaeology – it’s the personal connection with the past that is so powerful.

“The best find so far, for me, is a piece of a tiny teacup obviously from a child’s toy tea set.”

Lasting for four years, the £1.3 million Flodden 1513 project aims to raise the profile of the Battle of Flodden and leave a lasting legacy for communities in north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.