Formerly a high bank and deep ditch situated in Bartonsham Meadows, to the south-east of Hereford city centre, the remains of the earthwork, a scheduled ancient monument, can still be traced at the back of Park Street. Currently on Historic England's “At Risk Register”, due to neglect and farming activity, it is marked on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1888 as an “Intrenchment Constructed by the Scotch Army AD1645”, but other evidence suggests the Row Ditch has a much older history.
The Project's chair, Ian Broom said: “The grant will help us understand the purpose and origins of the feature. We will be working with the community and involving young people from St James' CofE Primary School and Hereford Sixth Form College, to develop a better understanding of the feature in the history of the environs of Hereford's medieval city. Bartonsham Meadows is an area popular with local residents and many have speculated on the origin of the Row Ditch. Is it a Civil War defence? A flood drain? A part of Offa's Dyke? A feature of a medieval field management system, or something else? We are very pleased to have been awarded this grant and our thanks go to those who made it possible by participating in the National Lottery.”
Herefordshire Archaeology, part of Herefordshire Council, has been appointed to provide management expertise and leadership in meeting the Project's objectives. Archaeologist Tim Hoverd said; “This is fantastic news! We are really looking forward to working with the local community to hopefully solve the mystery of Row Ditch. We hope that the excavations will be able to tell us exactly what this monument was used for and when it was being used.”
Local people will be given the opportunity to experience and participate in a professionally managed investigation within the community. Building on preliminary work already conducted, the project will include the digging of surface trenches, deeper augering and analysis of the results. At the end of the project, a report will be published and an interpretation board installed on site for the information of visitors and residents to raise awareness and appreciation of the area.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “Sharing Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that The Bartonsham Row Ditch Community Archaeology Project can embark on a real journey of discovery. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”