Everyone can get involved in the archaeology at Copped Hall, from the casual visitor to the professional archaeologist, and all points in between. This section explains what the options are, starting with the first-time visitor to Copped Hall who just wants to have quick look at what is going on, then moving on to ways to “dip your toe into the water”, and finally describing ways to become an active amateur archaeologist. Some of those who had their first taste of archaeology at Copped Hall have gone on to volunteer at other archaeological projects around the country, or to study and work full time in archaeology and the heritage sector. Others just enjoy an interesting day out in congenial surroundings on a Copped Hall Open Day, and leave it at that!
There is one simple way to get involved, which involves lifting only one finger: follow the West Essex Archaeological Group (WEAG) on Facebook. However, to put the Facebook postings into context you do need to make at least one visit to Copped Hall to see it in the flesh.
To get a quick idea of the archaeology that is going on at Copped Hall, come to one of the Open Days. You can see finds from the excavations in the two Archaeology Display Rooms, on the ground floor and first floor of the mansion building. You will find displays showing the history of the excavations alongside some of the most interesting finds, and showing how the archaeology ties in with the known history of Copped Hall. Members of WEAG will be in the display rooms to explain things. You can then take a stroll from the mansion, heading in the general direction of the Walled Garden through the two large terraced lawns, to reach the main excavation areas. These will vary from year to year, depending on what is currently under investigation. Members of WEAG will be on hand to talk you through what you are looking at, and they may also be actively digging in excavation trenches. Don't be afraid to interrupt them and ask them about what they are doing.
If this tempts you to try your hand at excavation, you can join one or more “Archaeology Experience” weekends. Details of these are shown in the Events and information section. These weekends are run as part of the Copped Hall Trust Archaeological Project and are supervised by WEAG. They are for complete beginners, to give you the chance to get hands-on with real archaeology. They are open to people of all ages from 8 years upwards, provided they are reasonably physically fit. If you are below the age of 16, you will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult who has also signed up for the weekend.
If you do not fancy getting you knees dirty in a trench, there are opportunities to get involved in the processing of finds. This is an indoor activity, and includes categorising finds from the excavations, and getting a better understanding of what they are. It is a year-round sociable activity in the warm and dry, and gets you close to the archaeology without getting muddy. For more information, contact WEAG.
If you decide you want to develop archaeological skills, WEAG organises training events at Copped Hall of various kinds, based upon demand. The events use the abundant archaeology on the Copped Hall site as a means of training people in excavation, geophysics and recording skills, whilst at the same time progressing the archaeological investigations. For more information, contact WEAG.
If you want to get fully involved in all aspects of archaeology, including evening lectures, excavations, field-walking and geophysics not just at Copped Hall but at other sites as well, you could become a member of WEAG. You don't have to be active on archaeological sites to join WEAG, you only need to be interested in archaeology, and for some members WEAG's monthly programme of talks on archaeology and history is sufficient reason in itself to be a member.
Copped Hall provides beautiful surroundings in which to practice archaeology, and the conversation in the tea breaks and lunch breaks is often interrupted by the songs of wild birds. At a more practical level, there are toilets with running water. Very few other archaeological excavations elsewhere can offer such luxury!
Just think: in future years it could be you in one of these pictures.
Archaeology Experience Weekend
Geophysics at Copped Hall