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University welcomes community involvement at medieval site

August 22, 2008

The Department of Archaeology at the University of Winchester is holding an Open Day in September and is looking for volunteers for a dig at the site of one of Winchester’s most important medieval institutions, the former medieval leper hospital of St Mary Magdalen.

Known by locals as Hospital Field, the site is situated about a mile outside the City’s boundaries on the Alresford Road, on the east side of Winchester.

“Every year we run a major training excavation as part of our ongoing research and practical teaching here at the University,” explained Dr Simon Roffey, who is leading the project along with his colleague Dr Phil Marter. “We like to offer opportunities for volunteers to join students during their archaeological fieldwork.

“This dig is particularly fascinating – little is known about leper hospitals compared to other medieval monastic institutions. The people who lived here were condemned to a life of exile. This site provides a unique chance over the next three years to survey and excavate an entire hospital including chapel and domestic buildings, precinct and compound, gatehouse as well as cemetery.”

The Open Day is planned on Saturday 20 September from 10am-3pm to give visitors an opportunity to view progress at the site along with the range of artefacts found. Regular transport will be running to and from the site from the Main Reception on Sparkford Road at the University of Winchester.

Volunteers who are available between 8-12 September should contact Claire Lorrain on 01962 827333 or by email

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