Page last updated at 19:34 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Homeless helping Stokes Croft archaeology dig

Turbo Island
The corner has some of Bristol's most notable graffiti

A team of homeless people are to begin excavating a derelict corner of Bristol which has been used by rough sleepers for more than 40 years.

"Turbo Island" in Stokes Croft is to be excavated in a project funded by the Council of British Archaeology.

Archaeologist Rachael Kiddey, who developed the scheme, said: "This project seeks to break down barriers."

Ms Kiddey and colleague John Schofield thought up the project after speaking to rough sleepers in the underpass.

Series of talks

Mr Schofield said a host of stories were attached to the traffic island including that it is the site of a bombed WWII building; that it was once a "Speaker's Corner"; and that it was "where pirates were hanged".

Using conventional archaeological methods to understand modern culture is both fascinating and socially relevant
Rachael Kiddey, urban archaeologist

He added: "It doesn't matter whether these stories of Turbo Island are true - we are more interested by how many people were keen to tell us its history.

"Places that matter to homeless people and those who have a marginalised existence in society are significant in their own right."

Ms Kiddey added: "Using conventional archaeological methods to understand modern culture is both fascinating and socially relevant."

Volunteers from the police and Bristol University student helpers will also take part in the project on the corner of Stokes Croft and Jamaica Street.

The results of the dig will be presented in talks and lectures in spring 2010, culminating in an exhibition in Stokes Croft.

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