Archaeology work and the big dig

Lifting slabs covering the tunnel at Trerice

In September 2018 the Trerice Archaeological Research Group (TARG) will return for a week long dig in the grounds of Trerice.

The team

The TARG group is made up of approximately 20 Trerice volunteers, all of whom have come into archaeology through volunteering. The chance to take part in archaeological work was jumped at by many volunteers who’d always wanted to try their hand with a trowel. 

The team aim to further investigate a tunnel, discovered in 2017, as well as the rear court where they’ll be looking for a lost wing of the house. This isn’t the first time they’ve searched for the lost wing. During test pit digging in 2017 the team searched in the long walk that runs parallel with the house with no results. The team hope that, by digging lower in the topography of the property, they might find traces of a part of the house long forgotten. 

TARG leader Gary will be giving site tours of the digging at 1pm Saturday and Sunday (15 and 16 September), discussing their progress, finds and theories.

The tunnel

The tunnel was discovered by TARG towards the end of the 2017 dig. Up until that point all that had been found in the trench was the foundations of a poured, concrete building with a packed earth floor. The team found a crack in slabs of stone nearby and, looking through it, saw water reflected back up. The slabs were lifted by the garden team to reveal a hole filled with standing water and a tunnel heading towards the barn.

Lifting the lid on a hidden tunnel
Lifting slabs covering the tunnel at Trerice
Lifting the lid on a hidden tunnel

The tunnel is 43 metres long and 6 foot tall, it starts off as masonry but soon changes to cut rock – it wouldn’t have been a quick or easy job and, early attempts to date the tunnel suggest it is hand cut. After 43 metres the tunnel meets a blockage where it has been filled in, we don’t know how far on it continues or where it goes to. A video of the tunnel is now being shown in the undercroft.

Until mid-September an archaeological trail is running at Trerice over the weekends giving children the chance to imagine what the team will find, choose where they’d dig at Trerice and have a mini-dig of their own in the mowhay sandpit.