Love of archaeology from young age really pays off

At the archaeological site. Photo: Caistor Roman Project

At the archaeological site. Photo: Caistor Roman Project - Credit: Caistor Roman Project

A life-long love of archaeology has led to 55-year-old Rhiane Keeley from Hellesdon becoming site director for a major dig.

Rhiane at a dig. Photo: Rhiane Keeley

Rhiane at a dig. Photo: Rhiane Keeley - Credit: Rhiane Keeley

Fifteen years ago when studying GCSE archaeology, she never anticipated what the outcome would be.

She is a scheduler for NORSE and she spends a large part of her annual leave each year digging holes in and around Caistor.

A community-based group, Caistor Roman Project (CRP), was formed in 2009 to encourage community involvement in the archaeological research centred on the town, which is owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT).

Mrs Keeley is unfazed by high temperatures and torrential rain and she enjoys the challenge of being in charge of a dig. She said: 'It can involve an awful lot of chin scratching and staring at the bottom of a trench.

'Trying to decide if that dark stain running across the middle is a ditch, pit, field boundary or just a modern land drain.

'One of the things I enjoy most is that we are a disparate group, but through our common love of archaeology, some strong friendships have been made over the years. I enjoy the banter and the good humour.'

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After excavations finished in 2012, the CRP continued to explore the Roman and Post-Roman development of the area by digging test pits in the gardens of Caistor St Edmund's residents.

The positive results from the test pits lead to the first major independent excavation for the group in 2016. This was following a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £84,000.

During that year, Mrs Keeley was second in command to the project manager. In 2017, she was given the role of site director in charge of two large trenches on the site just north of the Roman town.

The CRP have recently joined with the NAT to offer opportunities for people interested in bringing the Roman town to life for members of the public.

Caroline Davison, director of NAT, said: 'The Trust is very pleased to be working in partnership with CRP on bringing together these opportunities for people to get more involved in the day to day life of the Roman Town.'

For more information on how to get involved, visit or call 01603 462987.