Amateur diggers discover the realities of Victorian living

Volunteers taking part in the community archaeology project at Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
Volunteers taking part in the community archaeology project at Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
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AMATEUR archaeologists who have joined a dig on the site of a city farm have helped uncover what life was like in the area a century ago.

When Queen Victoria was on the throne, several streets around Heeley City Farm in Sheffield were home to families who worked in local factories.

The terrace houses were demolished in the 1970s but locals who have been taking part in the dig have discovered some of the artefacts that were left behind.

Dr Roger Doonan, of the department of archaeology at Sheffield University, has helped the volunteers, many of whom have never been involved in archaeology before.

He said: “The real thrust of the project is to find out about what people did in their back yards and gardens a century ago.

“We have found the foundations of the houses, and the outhouses, and beneath the 1978 demolition layer there are some interesting artefacts.”

Dr Doonan said pieces of oyster shell and bone which were probably offcuts from cutlery works had been found, which appeared to be evidence of a cottage industry.

He added: “It was probably waste which husbands brought home from the factories and foundries, which wives worked into buttons for clothing - not just for themselves but to sell.