Throckmorton Airfield

©Worcestershire County Council/Malcolm Atkin
©Worcestershire County Council/Malcolm Atkin

Region: West Midlands

Local Authority: Wychavon

Owner Type: Government

Funding Body: DEFRA

Year of Intervention: 2001

Summary: Disaster Management: Agreement of archaeological strategy for the site at Throckmorton Airfield, Worcestershire, in the midst of the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001 led to the largest single archaeological project in the crisis.

Description: The site at Throckmorton Airfield, Worcestershire was chosen as the principal mass burial pit for Foot and Mouth in the Midlands.
Issue: An initial search of the Sites and Monuments Record revealed a potential archaeological interest on the site. An archaeological strategy had to be devised and agreed within a matter of 48 hours with provision to preserve key archaeological remains in the midst of the emergency.
Strategy: A watching brief was undertaken, with geophysical survey attempting to provide advance notice of any potentially significant areas in advance of work commencing. The archaeological team had to work alongside the army, contractors, Environment Agency and MAFF (now DEFRA) in a very close partnership founded on complete trust. A more controlled programme of excavation was subsequently undertaken in advance of further engineering works.
Outcome: The project reinforced the importance of close partnership working between different agencies. This was based on the archaeologists being seen to act both professionally and reasonably. In return, when an area of key archaeology was discovered, the plans for the burial pits were completely altered in order to protect the remains. By this means, the complete site of an Iron age settlement was preserved and part of a Roman farmstead excavated. This has produced rare evidence of potential continuity into the Saxon period. The site is now a key site for the understanding of the development of the surrounding landscape.

Keywords: Assessment and Characterisation, Disaster Management

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