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Digging Surrey’s War - Community Archaeology Project

Ewhurst, Surrey (GU6) June to September 2011

Initiated and run by

Surrey Youth Development Service, Heritage Enterprise (Surrey County Archaeological Unit) and Sayers Croft Field Centre.

Funding sources

A grant of just over £10k was applied for and granted from the HLF (March 2011).

Further funding was sourced: Surrey County Council’s PAYP (Positive Activities for Young People) scheme granted £5k to the project. There was support in kind for logistics and facilities from Sayers Croft Trust

Digging Surrey's War - Local people taking part in the excavation. Permission: A Guinness, Surrey CC.

  • Engage the local community, and especially young people, to be at the core of developing and sustaining a project to rediscover, record and showcase the WW2 history of Sayers Croft Centre and the wider community;
  • Conduct training workshop in the spirit of co-production aimed at developing a core team of skilled community-based members who will work in such areas as oral history and local archive research. Other fieldwork may take place as opportunities are identified;
  • Actively develop means of archiving and disseminating data to ensure its preservation and accessibility to other groups as soon as possible after collection; Showcase the work as part of a wider ‘living history’ interpretation event.

Work done and results

Digging Surrey's War - course participants from the second two-day training course in Basic Archaeological Skills. Permission: A Guinness, Surrey CC.

This project aimed to excavate the hidden air raid shelters at Sayers Croft, built in 1939 as an evacuation centre for students from Catford Central Boys School in London.. This project offered the opportunity to discover archaeology and has provided a wealth of information about the structure and design of these WW2 air raid shelters. It has also produced lots of interesting finds, which tell the story of those staying at the evacuation centre during the war, including a bullet, a sixpence minted in 1944 and a baked bean tin with string running through it.

This project offered digging opportunities for local volunteers but also training in basic archaeological skills, and gaining a AQA qualification as a result. Over 100 local school children took part, with a further 40 families, and 30 adults taking part in the Basic Archaeological Skills training, and 350 visitors on the open day.

Lessons learned

We ran a training session at the very beginning of the project for Sayers Croft staff and local society members. Due tio the amount we tried to fit in, we extended this to 2 days for the August training days. If we applied for more money to cover the prep and delivery time we could have filled more 2-day courses.

Further information

ALGAO general enquiries
01223 728592
admin [at]