Join an Archaeology dig in the UK

Strata Florida Archaeology Dig | Kat Nickola
Strata Florida Archaeology Dig | Kat Nickola

Join an Archaeology dig in the UK

by Kat Nickola
Stripes Europe


Plan a unique holiday this year at an archaeology dig in the U.K. Digs can be single-day experience events, week-long camping adventures or full-month courses. Archaeological work is a rewarding hands-on activity that gives you the chance to learn about history, contribute to real research and spend time outdoors.

Participation in heritage activities like archaeology have been shown to contribute positively to mental health, especially for military members. The Breaking Ground Heritage Organization researches and organizes archaeological participation as a support mechanism for military veterans dealing with traumatic experiences or physical injuries.

Whether archaeology interests you as an outdoor activity, a step toward wellbeing or a way to learn about the past, going on an excavation can be really fun. Most archaeological experiences include the supplies needed to help with a real excavation and instructions about what to do. Sure, you’ll be on the ground digging with a trowel, but there is so much more. Excavation archaeologists also train volunteers how to clean and sort artefacts or how to draw details plans of the area.

For multi-day experiences, expect to camp out and enjoy the camaraderie of the experience. Often food is included, so breakfast and dinner will be catered while lunch is packed and brought out to the dig site, but don’t pass up on an evening out at the local pub.

Here are some resources for finding digs across the U.K. that enlist untrained participants.

  • At Strata Florida Archaeology Field School you will be helping to uncover a medieval monastery complex in Wales. This school is known for being the most inclusive dig in the U.K. and welcomes people with differing abilities. Plus, the food is amazing! They offer single “Digger Days” and one to four-week courses. 
  • DigVentures is a large archaeological organization that offers adult and family DigCamps and teen DigClubs all over England, and online, from spring to fall.
  • The Vindolanda excavation near Hadrian’s wall is uncovering the Roman history of the area. They have various one and two-week participation options throughout the year.
  • At the Lost City of Trellach Project you can participate in single days uncovering a medieval Welsh town, and come away with your own trowel and artifact.
  • Mercian Archaeological Services has single day or weeklong adventures in the spring, and longer courses in the summer, in and around Mercia but especially in the Sherwood Forest.
  • Rampart Scotland is looking for people to help excavate a prehistoric settlement in Scotland for ten days in August.
  • York Archaeology offers weeklong training digs in the York area that are usually focused on Viking or medieval sites.
  • The Prehistoric Suffolk project by Past to Present Archaeology has organized one-week excavations of prehistoric sites around the Roman walls near Bury St. Edmunds.

Involvement in archaeology isn’t limited to academics or professionals. Many longer field schools will also welcome untrained excavators who are interested in both learning techniques and participating in a research dig. For more options around the world check out the Archaeological Institute of America’s Fieldwork Opportunities bulletin.




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