Small Pits, Big Ideas

Unearthing stories of medieval Worcestershire


Read Beoley’s test pit report

Worcestershire Archaeological Society (WAS) has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £62,700 for an exciting county-wide archaeology project – Small Pits, Big Ideas II. Made possible by money raised from National Lottery players, the project will enable six rural communities across Worcestershire to explore the origins of their settlements and contribute to academic research through the archaeology hidden in back gardens.

Relatively little is known about the history of Worcestershire’s rural medieval settlements as many remain lived in, making large archaeological excavations impossible. Through small test pits in gardens across each village, the Small Pits, Big Ideas project will bring locals directly in touch with their past and shine new light on the growth of rural settlements across the county. This project follows a pilot phase in 2017-18, which showed the potential of test pitting in Worcestershire.

Two children and an archaeologist around a 1m by 1m test pit excavation

Children excavating a test pit in White Ladies Aston during the project’s pilot phase (© WAAS)

Between autumn 2021 and summer 2022, six local communities will get hands on with their own heritage by digging ‘test pits’ to find evidence of the earliest inhabitants and how their settlement changed over time. The project will wrap up in early 2023 with a touring exhibition of the finds. It is a partnership between WAS, Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology ServiceGreen Fingers ProjectBadsey SocietyBewdley Historical Research GroupNorth Worcestershire Archaeology Group and Wichenford Local Heritage Group. Support will also be provided by archaeology students at the University of Worcester and Wolverley & Cookley Historical Society.

Professor Carenza Lewis (University of Lincoln), who pioneered the approach in eastern England with considerable success, explained that, “This is a fantastic project which will enable people of all ages and backgrounds across Worcestershire to enjoy the excitement and camaraderie of making new discoveries in everyday places which have never been excavated before.”

To be added to the project mailing list, please email

Young archaeologist holding yellow and brown pot sherd

Household rubbish was often thrown in back gardens in the past, making them ideal places to look for clues (© WAAS)

Worcestershire Archaeological Society

Worcestershire Archaeological Society has been promoting the study of archaeology and local history in Worcestershire since 1854 and are committed to working with like-minded local and national organisations to help achieve our aims. Alongside an annual lecture programme, the Society’s produces news and research publications that are distributed worldwide.

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. Follow @HeritageFundUK on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund