A couple are preparing for their garden to become the focus of a search for remains of an Iron Age hill fort in Bradford on Avon.

Peter and Jane Mann, of Budbury Place, have agreed for a section of their garden to be examined by a team of experts led by former Wiltshire archaeologist Roy Canham, who hope to uncover evidence of the hill fort’s outer ditch.

Work is due to get under way this weekend and is expected to last for seven days.

The dig is timed to coincide with a three-week long exhibition at Bradford on Avon Museum focusing on Budbury and the Iron Age.

Mrs Mann, a piano teacher at St Laurence School in the town, will be helping out with the work, as she got a taste for archaeology in 1969 when she took part in an excavation of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Black Patch near Pewsey.

She said: “I’m going to help them out. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in our garden.

“We find shards all the time and it’s mostly medieval pottery.

“They think the hill fort’s ditch ran through the corner of our garden.”

Mr Mann, who is semi-retired but still works for a consultancy helping people made redundant find work, said the idea for the dig came about when they were working in the garden during the spring.

“We were digging in the garden to sort out a piece of it and plant some trees in and we found some agricultural flooring about two foot down,” he said. “The flooring looks like a smooth barn floor. It’s Bath stone, not laid down flat like slabs, but laid on its side in the ground.”

Mr Mann said archaeologists were keen to see what was under the flooring, as it could have been laid in the Middle Ages and so may have preserved what is underneath.

Mr Mann said his wife knows people linked to the town museum, which led to the decision to mount a dig in the garden.

He added: “The chance of them finding something really interesting is quite remote, but clearly I’m interested.”

The couple have lived at their Grade II listed home for about three-and-a-half years.

It is thought the house, which is the oldest in the Budbury area, is the former Budbury Manor, which dates back to the 16th century.

There is evidence that ceilings were put in during the 17th century during an upgrade of the manor house.

In the late 17th or early 18th century it became tenanted cottages, most likely for agricultural labourers. It eventually fell into disrepair.

Former resident Roger Jones, a local publisher and bookshop owner, lived at the house for 12 years and worked with Bradford on Avon resident Pam Slocombe on researching the house’s history.

Enthusiast found pottery shards at dig

Archaeologist Adrian Powell has long been fascinated with the history of his home town of Bradford on Avon.

In the 1980s he carried out two excavations in the Budbury area of the town, following in the footsteps of eminent archaeologist GJ Wainwright, who found evidence of an Iron Age hill fort there in 1969.

During the digs, at which he worked alongside builders who were developing the area, Mr Powell found Iron Age pottery fragments and even a segment from a Roman central heating system, which could point to the location of a Roman villa.

Mr Powell, 59, from Poulton, carried out his first dig at Budbury Ridge in 1986, where developers were building houses.

“I was probably there off and on for six months,” he said. “There were small fragments of Iron Age pottery almost within the bedrock. I was overwhelmed by the material that was coming out. It was an opportunity I could not lose as these machines would have ripped out the innards of all those archaeological remains.”

Mr Powell’s second dig was in 1989 close to Tory, where more houses were being built. Here he found evidence of an Iron Age ditch, as well as more pottery from the Iron Age, Roman and medieval periods.

Some of Mr Powell’s findings are on display at Bradford on Avon Museum as part of the Iron Age exhibition.