Kent

CSI Sittingbourne archaeology project closes

Conserving finds
Image caption Members of the public were allowed to go in and watch the conservation work being carried out

An archaeology project which probed scores of Anglo Saxon graves in Kent is closing because it has run out of cash.

CSI: Sittingbourne had been running since 2008 when a 1,400 year-old graveyard was uncovered on The Meads development site in the town.

Volunteers have spent the last two years analysing hundreds of items, including 69 Anglo-Saxon graves.

The project is now unable to find the £1,000 a week it needs to stay open and conserve the finds.

Project manager Dana Goodburn-Brown said: "This is a really high status graveyard. We've never excavated, with modern techniques, a cemetery this size and of this quality."

About 2,500 items were found on the site and only half have been looked at so far.

Of those examined, 500 are awaiting high-tech analysis which will provide further revelations about the lives of people who lived in Sittingbourne 1,400 years ago.

'Fine intricacy'

Ms Goodburn-Brown said: "This is an area that people have referred to as the Dark Age - there's nothing written down so we are finding out a lot about the people that lived here.

"We are getting down to the fine intricacy of the bugs that were around at the time, and the plants that grew and the clothes people were wearing."

The finds have included jewellery, weapons and precious personal possessions but, without funding, the finds will go into dry storage and may never be looked at.

Some of the finds are still in soil blocks which, according to Ms Goodburn-Brown, should not be left without investigation for too many years.

Image caption There are many hundreds of finds still awaiting conservation and analysis

The project has also been accessible to members of the public and visitors were able to go in and watch the work being carried out.

Ms Goodburn-Brown said: "We've had about 16,000 visitors. People are free to come in and watch us working and talk to us - normally conservation happens behind the scenes."

The project also has about 20 people on the waiting list wanting to be trained by Ms Goodburn-Brown as analysts so they can volunteer and help out.

CSI: Sittingbourne is a partnership between Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Sittingbourne Heritage Museum but neither have the funds to support it.

The team is putting together applications to public bodies in the hope that enough money is raised for the conservation work to begin again.

An exhibition of the finds can still be viewed at the Forum in Sittingbourne.

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