Dudsbury Guide Camp working with Bournemouth Natural Science Society

In October 2016 Bournemouth Guides received £32,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exciting project to investigate the 3000 year old hill fort called Dudsbury that their campsite is situated on at West Parley.

Led by the Girlguiding members the project focuses on the historical importance of their ancient Iron Age hill fort and also the changing camping experiences in living memory for the Girlguides over their 85 year history on the site.

A group of local Girlguides began their journey to gain personal badges and awards as they discover archaeological finds and how their fortified campsite links to other better known local sites of historic interest such as Hengistbury Head and Badbury Rings. The girls and young women will learn how to permanently record and communicate their findings for visitors along the Stour VGuide1alley Way at their currently uninterpreted site.

Dudsbury Camp was secured as a Girlguiding campsite in 1931 and to celebrate the occasion a pageant was staged with Girlguides forming tableaus to explain what was known about the history of the site. Bournemouth Guide Camp Association made the decision that re-staging the pageant with updated information and including the history of Girlguiding on the site would make a fitting end celebration to the project which will be in July 2017.

Discovering that some pottery remains were housed at the BNSS led Girlguiding members to contact the society for information and help with the project. Meeting with Bryan Popple at the Society in November 2016 the girls were introduced to the person and work of Heywood Sumner.

Guide2With the kind and considerable research that Bryan put in the girls were able to read correspondence from Heywood Sumner regarding his excavations at their hill fort and the impressive pictures and maps he drew of the site as it appeared in the 1920s. Handling the original pottery pieces that Heywood Sumner discovered was brought to life as the girls were able to see more complete artefacts from the collection at the Society. Of great interest was the beautiful hand drawn map showing Dudsbury’s location on the river Stour between the port at Hengistbury Head and the larger fort at Badbury Rings which was so much clearer than picking out the sites from a modern map.

The girls are currently using this information to design interpretation boards that will be erected on site, information for their new website and ideas for practical iron age workshops. It may be that Mr Heywood Sumner himself makes a posthumous guest appearance at the re-staged pageant… watch this space.

Debbie Thorpe
Division Commissioner Girlguiding Bournemouth South and Trustee Bournemouth Guide Camp Association