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University helps youngsters dig up the past – and gain confidence

16 Jul 2015

Young people with disabilities work alongside our undergraduates on archaeological dig

Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire

Young people with disabilities are getting their hands dirty while working on an archaeological dig this summer.

This is thanks to a partnership between the University and the charity Pure Innovations, which is giving two young people from Rochdale with learning disabilities the opportunity to join an archaeological excavation at Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire.

Their experience at the site will form one of the challenges that they will undertake in order to achieve the prestigious Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

One part of the award requires them to take part in a residential experience for a week – as a result the youngsters will be taking their place alongside our Archaeology undergraduates to help in the investigation of three funerary long mounds dating to the Early Neolithic period (c. 4000-3500 BC).

The excavation is being directed by Professor Julian Thomas, from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, and Dr Keith Ray, of Nexus Heritage.

This important site has previously been reported in the national and international press, owing to the presence of the remains of burnt timber buildings sealed beneath the mounds which is a most unusual finding.

Pure Innovations, a national charity that supports people with disabilities and helps them to reach their potential and achieve social inclusion, have been running the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme in Rochdale for the last two years.

The grant funding was provided by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group’s Social Investment Fund, which supports services that deliver health and wellbeing benefits to the local community, foster inclusion and prevention and enable people to live better lives.

To date eight people have gained their Bronze and Silver Awards and grown immeasurably in self-confidence, self-esteem and aspirations for themselves in the process.

Two of the disabled young people are still young enough to aim for the Gold Award and if successful will be off to Buckingham Palace to collect their Award alongside other young high achievers in the country.