The survey and dig was carried out in the grounds of The Lakes School (built on the site of the former Calgarth Estate), from 15 to 27 July 2019.
The archaeologists initially made a site visit to the former site of the Calgarth Estate with the Lake District Holocaust Project, and examined areas of the land surround the Lakes School, that might be suitable for possible surveying and excavation.
The archaeology was led by world renowned archaeologists Caroline Sturdy Colls, Kevin Colls and William Mitchell, and included a cutting edge technological survey to identify those remains of the estate that still lie hidden below the ground. This was followed by excavations that focussed primarily on uncovering the remains of some hostel accommodation on the estate, that initially housed workers at the Sunderland Flying Boat factory nearby and in 1945, 300 Jewish child Holocaust Survivors.
Each of the six hostels on Calgarth Estate housed fifty people in small individuals rooms, and each room had a bed, chest of drawers and bedroom furniture. For the children, who arrived in August 1945 and who had experienced the horrors of concentration camps, the rooms and the hostels were utterly luxurious.
Initially the Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University carried out a desk-based assessment of the site, using maps, plans, aerial photographs and testimony to build a detailed picture of how the landscape has evolved since the 1940s. Using both a magnetometer and GPR, the archaeologists then surveyed the land during the first week beginning 15 July 2019 to look for the remains of buildings, rubble and other traces. The magnetometer scan covered most of the possible area/land surrounding the Lakes School and was useful for detecting changes to the earth’s magnetic field (for example, any remaining brick constructions) at a shallow level. The GPR (ground penetrating radar) detected disturbances at a deeper level.
Towards the end of the first week, the archaeologists dug a few test pits together with very small scale, minimally invasive excavations. The second week, the archaeologists concentrated on excavating part of the remains of a hostel. The two photographs below show areas of the school grounds that were scanned and/or excavated.
Volunteers helped in a variety of tasks from 22 to 27 July 2019 and many of their thoughts about the survey and dig can be found under the heading ‘Reflections’.