A MAJOR project to provide a unique resource detailing Winchester past has been given support from the city council.

Winchester Excavations Committee has been carrying out work to digitise its Winchester Studies publications.

And the city council has now approved a £20,000 grant to allow the project to be carried out.

Leader Cllr Lucille Thompson said: “The city council has been involved with the Winchester Excavations Committee and the Winchester Studies since its inception in 1962.”

It was originally founded to record the findings of the digs undertaken by Sir Martin Biddle and his late wife Birthe.

“Indeed, these particular digs were described by The Times as one of the most important excavations worldwide in the 20th century so that is some accolade since that time this has been an ongoing project with much involvement of the city council.

“I believe it is only right that the city council continues to play a part in the production of this research. To date 12 books have been published, four are in advance preparations and another four are in the early stages of preparation and funding is sought to complete the publication of the series of Winchester studies volumes.

“When the series is completed it will provide a unique and impeccable academic record of Winchester’s development and its place in the history of our country and its role in the culture of Europe.”

Cllr Thompson added: “This will certainly help a wider audience to view the publications and will provide a unique resource to future generations.”

The funding will also be used to expand the public participation in the publications and interest in the wider work of the committee, also through events and lectures.

However, opposition and Tory leader Cllr Caroline Horrill raised concerns about the amount the committee was asking for but she praised the work that was being carried out.

She said: “I know we are all sympathetic to the objectives, I am just questioning the amount and the context of the overall requirement to deliver this project.

“I just think we need to be clear about what we are providing in the total efforts in the committee that are maybe undertaking.”

To which Cllr Thompson replied: “You are right the money we are offering in comparison is fairly small proportion in what they were originally looking for.

“As a city council we felt we couldn’t get anywhere near match-funding what the county had already given.

“We couldn’t even reduce that by 50 per cent, we believe it was a gesture to help them on their way to meet their goal.”

The Winchester Excavations Committee is also raising money through fundraising, events and membership.