26th August 2014:
On a damp and cloudy Sunday at the end of April a colourful new interpretation scheme, funded by Natural England and designed by OA East, was unveiled at Tilty Abbey in Essex.
This event marks the culmination of several years' work by OA East at the abbey site, that began with an earthwork, geophysical and wider area survey commissioned by English Heritage in 2010.
Largely based on the material collated during the survey and research undertaken for the analytical report, the interpretation scheme comprises four panels positioned at key points around the site. Each panel details different aspects of the history, archaeology (both buried and standing) and environment of the site, illustrated by a number of superb reconstructions (by freelance illustrator and designer Jon Cane) that really help to bring the abbey back to life.
The boards were unveiled to an audience of invited guests that included the owners of the site, members of the Tilty Archaeology and Local History Group (TALHG), representatives from OA East and English Heritage, local residents and two of the skilled craftsmen who were involved in the repair and consolidation of the two sections of standing cloister wall.
Following a few celebratory drinks and nibbles in the local pub, we returned to the site to show a group from Saffron Walden Initiative around the abbey meadow and parish church. The interpretation panels were a big success and everyone seems to like them.
In addition to the new boards, an ongoing legacy of this project has been the continued success of TALHG, who in 2012 were awarded a Heritage Lottery grant for an 'All our Stories' project that allowed them to purchase equipment such as iPads and a digital projector. This year the group will concentrate more on exploring the archaeology of the area – we are planning a day of test-pitting within gardens adjacent to the abbey in the summer, to hopefully be followed by fieldwalking on the site of the abbey's post-mill later in the year. Watch this space!
Post Excavation Editor, OAE