Digging has begun at Bradgate Park to search for evidence of Ice Age hunts in the country park.
The huge park is known to have been a top spot for hunting deer in relatively recent years but the archaeologists want to know more about what was happening 14,000 years ago.
They believe that towards the end of the last Ice Age, as the British Isles began to thaw out, packs of hunters camped in the area as they stalked their prey across the countryside.
The dig began on Tuesday and will continue until September 23, funded by National Lottery cash as part of the Ice Age Journeys project.
They hope to discover the remains of flint tools by the River Lin at the east end of Little Matlock Gorge – where prehistoric hunters would traditionally search for prey, kill animals and cut them up to use their meat, skins and bones.
James Dymond, director of Bradgate Park Trust, said: “Many parks in Leicestershire are vibrantly rich in history and we’re really excited to be bringing an archaeological dig into the park as a landmark of historic interest.
“The team at Ice Age Journeys are specialists in their field and we’re really honoured to be working alongside them.
“For many of our volunteers, this project marks their very first excavation so we’re all looking forward to seeing what’s discovered.”
The volunteers will be hand-digging pits and sieving the soil as a method to find the small flint points and barbs from spears, darts and knives that would have been used for butchery.
Ice Age Journeys archaeologist Daryl Garton said: “We want to try and communicate with the people of Leicestershire and the surrounding area about the historic importance of this site.
“Locals and visitors will know the story about the forgotten queen, Lady Jane Grey, who was born and raised in Bradgate Park, but there is history at this park that runs much deeper that what remains on the surface and this dig will, hopefully, uncover that.”
(Image: Chris De Bretton-Gordon)
Bradgate Park’s team will also be hosting free, themed activities for children to enjoy. Throughout this weekend from 11am to 3pm on September 18 and September 19, volunteers will be leading activities suitable for children that give an insight into the Ice Age period outside the Visitor Centre in the middle of the park.
Nick Rushton, chairperson of Bradgate Park Trust, said: “Volunteers are fundamental in the operations of our parks and it is pleasing to see some of them experiencing an excavation for the very first time.
“Parks and open spaces, like Bradgate, have been a lifeline during the last 18 months of the Covid pandemic and we’re pleased to be kickstarting these opportunities again. “