Dig It! 2016: The Firth Park Bandstand Archaeology Project

Sheffield Archaeology staff and students work with local school students to uncover the past at Firth Park

This year’s Dig It! project saw Sheffield Archaeology staff and students work with local school students to investigate the remains of the bandstand in Firth Park, in northern Sheffield.

Dig It! is a programme that introduces school students to Archaeology by taking part in a range of practical, challenging and fun activities that they will be unlikely to experience at school. The project was funded by the Office for Fair Access, and supported by the Faculty of Arts Widening Participation Office, as an initiative to encourage students to pursue archaeology and study at university level.

Good work happening in Sheffield neighbourhood’ (Sheffield Telegraph)

Excavations for the Dig It! project focused on the site of the demolished Edwardian bandstand in Firth Park, north Sheffield. Firth Park was established in 1875 by the then Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Albert Edward, later Edward VII, and his wife, Princess Alexandra. The bandstand was constructed in the 1900s, and demolished in the 1970s.

Take a look at the Firth Park bandstand in 1911 here (PictureSheffield)

Invited students from Widening Participation schools – Firth Park Academy, Longley Park College, and Worksop College – took part in the excavation alongside undergraduate and postgraduate student volunteers from the Department of Archaeology.

Dr Katherine Fennelly , who directed the project, reports:

‘We carried out an initial geophysical survey which revealed the site in detail. Based on the results of the survey, we excavated a 2m x 7m trench, uncovering an area stretching from the interior of the bandstand, and the pathway outside. We found that the bandstand likely had an underground storage space (a common feature), which was filled with demolition debris, including iron railings from the outside of the structure and iron beams (painted green!). Artefacts recovered from the site include pottery fragments (from picnicking), milk bottles, and a 'Knurr' ball, from the popular nineteenth-century game, Knurr and Spell.

‘Sheffield City Council invited us to use the pavilion for the park’s Bowling Green as a base, and we set up a tent on-site. Through the Friends of Firth Park , we invited members of the local community to observe the excavation and contribute their memories of the bandstand. Locals who visited the site throughout the week shared their memories of the structure with us, and remembered the bandstand as a focal point of social activity.’

A ‘Knurr’ ball found in the excavation

Excavation Excavation
Trench