The Association for Environmental Archaeology (AEA) recognises the contribution of archaeological societies to environmental archaeology through its Society Membership Prize. Societies can be nominated by an AEA member, and the nominees are voted on by the membership. The winning society is granted 3 years of AEA membership.
The South Somerset Archaeological Research Group (SSARG) is a community based group run by volunteers based near Wincanton in Somerset. We are a very active group, both on the field work and social front. Our field work includes excavation, test pitting and geophysics, plus post-ex work, e.g. finds processing and flotation at our Unit at Sutton Montis near South Cadbury Hillfort. We also run a programme of talks and outings and each year take part in the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology. This year we will be continuing our work at Montacute House, working with the National Trust to locate buried garden features and buildings using geophysics.
SSARG is very lucky to be able to do this because it has access to help and advice with respect to plant remains, molluscs and faunal remains via its membership. Two of our members, Liz Caldwell and Nigel Harvey, also run a local business called GeoFlo, carrying out geophysical surveys and processing soil samples. Their work helps to support SSARG financially. Last year SSARG members set up a new branch of the Young Archaeologists Club – Mick Aston’s Young Archaeologists (MAYA) based at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.
SSARG is a keen supporter of environmental archaeology, both on the practical side by taking soil samples during our excavations, and also by educating our members though talks and giving people the opportunity to do flotation and residue sorting. Our most recent speaker was Matt Law from Bath Spa University, who also recently did a session for our Young Archaeologists. The children were absolutely fascinated by the tiny seeds, bones and shells!
We were really delighted to discover we had been awarded the Association for Environment Archaeology Community Group Prize! Liz Caldwell, SSARG