Test Day – the middle letter ‘A’


n Friday 18th May five of us spent the day on the Map with the aim to dig out and re-chalk the middle letter ‘A’. We wanted to see how our methodology would work and whether or not changes need to be made before we go ahead in earnest. We had approximately 2.5 tonnes of local chalk taken up to the top of the Map by a very helpful local farmer, and although it wasn’t milled down to the correct size, we were able to use a sledge hammer to break down some of the larger pieces of chalk.

We worked on the theory that the lettering and outline should be 50cm wide and placed the cut turf grass side up around the dug trench (a labour efficient way of ‘loosing’ this material). The dug out depth was approximately 15cm. We used a heavy duty tarpaulin to drag quantities of chalk from the dump site to where we needed it and back filled the cut with chalk, leaving it slightly below the new side level created by the placed turf.

After a day of hard physical work, the letter A was complete, but when going down to the A30 and viewing from there, we were slightly disappointed to see how tiny it looked – even with binoculars! We are going to revise the size, perhaps to 90cm before going ahead. This was a very useful exercise and will put us in a good position to move forward.

Test Trenches

Archaeologists from Historic England spent the day digging test trenches to try and establish the width and depth of the original and subsequent cuttings.  We imagined hitting solid chalk within a few inches but this was not the case.  The results were not as clear as hoped but seemed to show that the original cut was wide (over a metre) but relatively shallow.  A subsequent cut at a later stage was much narrower (less than half the original width) but much deeper.  Archive photo’s support this theory…