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On 2nd May at the ‘Who Do You Think You Are & Discover Archaeology Live’ exhibition held at Olympia, London, Royton Local History Society were the proud joint winners of the Marsh Award for Community Archaeology for their ‘Royton Lives through the Ages’ excavations of Royton Hall. On hearing the news Doug Ashmore, chairman of the Society, said he was very pleased and extremely proud to be associated with the project and grateful to all the volunteers who helped with the digs.

Nominees for the award had to each give a presentation, Royton’s being given by History Society members Frances Stott and Pearl Malcolmson, after which Brian Marsh said that the ‘Royton Lives Through the Ages’ project had really captured his imagination. However he said that the standard of the four finalists was so high that he had decided to declare them joint winners and award each a prize of £500.

The Council for British Archaeology director Mike Heyworth commented that the Royton project was a superb example of a community archaeology dig which has added significantly to the body of archaeological knowledge and understanding.

Michael Higgins, Chairman of the ‘Royton Lives Through the Ages’ committee, said that it was a great honour to win such a prestigious award and it is planned to put the prize money towards footprinting the Royton Hall site in the future.

Everyone at Royton Local History Society was delighted to hear the news that our ‘Royton Lives Through the Ages’ excavation project at Royton Hall had been short-listed as one of the four finalists for the inaugural ‘Marsh Award for Community Archaeology’.

To be a finalist is a massive achievement for our small group because, according to the Council for British Archaeology, "a good number of very high quality nominations were received."

Throughout the country there has been an increase in community archaeology groups, formed by people with an interest in their local heritage. ‘Royton Lives Through the Ages’ is a typical example of such a group, which was formed to explore the possibility that there were remains of the old Royton Hall underneath open land just off the main road in the town.

With the help of adult volunteers and children from local schools the site was excavated and extensive remains of the old Hall were found. Then open days were held so that the whole community could envisage what the Hall must have been like and how it had evolved over hundreds of years.

The Marsh Christian Trust and The Council for British Archaeology have worked together to create this new award to encourage more community archaeology projects, such as ours, which will "sustain and transmit knowledge and cultural heritage to future generations."

All the entries were assessed principally on:-

1) The contribution the group has made to archaeological knowledge and understanding

2) The activities of the group within their local community

3) The level of community engagement in the activities

The group was also expected to give back to the wider community the results of their work.

To know that we are one of the top four community archaeology projects in the country in 2006/7 makes everyone connected with the dig feel very proud indeed. However, we couldn’t have done it without all the adult volunteers from within our community and the local school children, turning out in all weathers to help with the excavation. A BIG THANK YOU goes to each and every one of them.

The other three joint winners were:

Badsey Society Enclosure Map project,
Mellor Archaeological Trust
North of Scotland Archaeological Society survey and excavation of the Glen Feshie Estate in the Scottish Highlands

Jess Wild, Secretary RLHS

Click for The Royton Lives Through the Ages Project details

More information about the Marsh Award can be found on the Council for British Archaeology web site.