Go digging!

While many volunteer excavations were mothballed during COVID-19 restrictions, this summer has plenty of opportunities for you to get involved in fieldwork. Carly Hilts and Emilie Clowry have put together some regional highlights of what is on offer for 2022, but see www.archaeology.co.uk/digs for even more options for archaeological experiences.


Battle Hill

Huntly, Aberdeenshire
12-22 July

The Battle Hill dig represents the 21st season of research into Aberdeenshire’s prehistoric settlement patterns, and this season will explore a previously unknown Pictish hillfort and a prehistoric burial cairn. Training is open to all, is relaxed and easy-going, and you can learn as much or as little as you want. Participants will have the opportunity to excavate archaeological remains that have never been examined before.

Rampart Scotland is also running an excavation at a previously unknown Romano-British fort in King’s Park, Stirling (14-19 August).

Cost: £500 (Battle Hill), £300 (King’s Park), or £50/day (either site)


Strata Florida Abbey

Pontrhydfendigaid, Ceredigion
28 June-31 July

Strata Florida Abbey is a captivating, evocative, and internationally significant site located in the Cambrian Mountains. The field school will offer a fully accessible training programme that covers a wide variety of archaeological excavation and survey techniques, from understanding how to correctly use a trowel through to the collection of geophysical data for archaeological mapping. Accommodation and catering are provided.

Cost: £550/week, £40 single digger day


Poulton Research Project

Poulton, Cheshire
w/c 1 August and w/c 15 August

This multi-period rural excavation, five miles south of Chester, has produced extensive evidence for 10,000 years of human activity, including the largest Iron Age lowland settlement discovered west of the Pennines, and a high-status Roman landscape. Currently, Iron Age, Roman, and medieval features are available in the field courses, with students able to choose which period they work on.

Cost: £400 for a 2-week course


We Dig York!

20 June-12 August (excluding weekends)

Located a stone’s throw from York’s most complete medieval gatehouse, this project will be digging in the shadow of the city’s famous Bar Walls to investigate a site that can, the team hopes, reveal more about working-class life in the Victorian Age, the 1644 Siege of York, and how the site was used from the medieval period through to the area’s prehistoric origins. There is the small matter, too, of a lost medieval church.

York Archaeology is also holding an excavation in Nottinghamshire at Wollaton Hall, a stunning stately home set in 500 acres of parkland and gardens, which runs from 22 August to 23 September (excluding weekends).

Cost: £300 for 1 week, £525 for 2 weeks


Archaeological training field schools

Kings Clipstone, Nottingham, and Welby, Leicestershire
Various, June-August

Mercian Archaeological Services’ Sherwood Forest Archaeology Training Field School focuses on the medieval hunting lodge and palatial enclosure of the King’s Houses, now known as King John’s Palace, in Sherwood Forest, and the designed landscape that surrounded it. A second field school will be at the Deserted Village of Welby, 3km north-west of Melton Mowbray town centre.

Mercian Archaeological Services are also running several courses, and a third school at a possible medieval manorial complex in Bainbridge, West Yorkshire. All are suitable for all levels from beginner to experienced digger.

Cost: £450 (£350 for students)


Elysing Tudor palace

Forty Hall, Enfield
10-24 July

EAS and John Pinchbeck IMAGE: John Pinchbeck / EAS.

This is the 19th season of Enfield Archaeological Society excavations at the Tudor royal palace of Elsyng in the grounds of Forty Hall, Enfield. Investigations will focus on the identification of the inner gatehouse. Heritage Lottery Fund support this year will see the publication of a major monograph on the site and a range of opportunities being offered, including a family open weekend on 16-17 July. The Society welcomes new volunteers, and to dig with them participants must join the Society by 1 July.

Cost: £12


King’s Lynn under Siege

King’s Lynn, Norfolk
w/c 17 July and w/c 24 July

The King’s Lynn under Siege (KLuS) English Civil War archaeological project aims to understand the experiences of those who lived through the English Civil Wars, and the impact of these events on the people and fabric of King’s Lynn. KLuS was formed in 2018 and featured on the Channel 4 series The Great British Dig in September last year, but there is still much to be discovered.

The project will be returning to King’s Lynn this summer to further explore the 17th-century fortifications.

Cost: £235 (on site; £190 concession), £110 (off site)


Culver Archaeological Project

Barcombe and Ringmer, East Sussex
30 May-8 July

The Culver Archaeological Project has been investigating a Roman landscape in Barcombe and Ringmer parishes since 2005. They have found an unknown Roman Road, and a double-ditched defended settlement (which they are currently excavating). They run a two-week field school with the option for another two weeks, and also have places for volunteers. See the website below or email join@culverproject.co.uk to find out more. www.culverproject.co.uk/how-to-join

Cost: £30 for up to 5 days, £50 up to 10 days, £100 whole season (volunteer only); £50/week (volunteer with camping); £600 (field school with camping)


The Durotriges Project

13 June-8 July

The Durotriges Project is an intensive, multi-disciplinary investigation into the late prehistoric and Roman societies of central southwestern Britain, conducted by staff and students of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology of Bournemouth University. For reasons of COVID-19 security, only small numbers of local volunteers are being accepted for the field school. Follow @DurotrigesDig on Twitter and see www.facebook.com/DurotrigesProject for more details.