Every year, up and down the country, field schools provide the opportunity for students and volunteers to ‘get their hands dirty’ by becoming involved in real archaeological excavation work. It can be tough, rough, uncomfortable but ultimately satisfying work, and the benefits it brings to the rest of us in terms of the increase in knowledge of the past are innumerable.
Many of these exploratory or research digs are run by universities or local archaeology societies, and often include an Open Day near the end of the season, for interested memmbers of the public to see what’s been going on and why, what’s been found and how it’s been interpreted.
For those of us who are geographically separated, or maybe not quite so mobile or flexible as we once were, many of these digs provide regular updates via their site diaries, published in blogs online. This provides a degree of outreach, and allows inclusion of many people in the project who may not be able to physically take part or visit. To this end, here’s a very brief overview of some of the 2014 digs that have caught our eye this summer.
Durotriges Project (Bournemouth University Big Dig) Project Page Dig Diary
Run by the Faculty of Science & Technology at Bournemouth University, the Durotriges Project is an archaeological investigation studying the transition from the late Iron Age to the early Roman period in southern England.
Caerau (Cardiff University)
We’ve reported on the Caerau Project extensively in the past.
Silchester (Reading University) Project Page Dig Diary
Silchester © lozwilkes on Flickr, via Creative Commons
Now in it’s 18th (and final) year, the dig at Silchester has been directed by Prof. Martin Fulford. Visitors are always welcome – there’s even an iPhone app available!
Binchester Project Page Dig Diary
Since 2009, an international team has been excavating the Roman fort and town at Binchester and surveying its place in one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world.
Ipplepen (Exeter University) Project Page Dig Diary (Facebook)
This year’s fourth season at Ipplepen in Devon, run by the University of Exeter, will return to the Roman road and associated burials revealed in 2011, and a complex series of enclosures and structures thought to be part of the largest Romano-British settlement in Devon outside of Exeter.
Vindolanda (Charitable Trust) Project Page Dig Diary
Vindolanda, © johndal on Flickr, via Creative Commons
The Vindolanda Trust has been accepting volunteers on to its excavations since its foundation in 1970 and over 6400 people have benefited from this challenging experience so far.
Lyminge (Reading University) Project Page Dig Diary
The Lyminge Archaeological Project is an ambitious programme of village-core archaeology. It is directed by Dr Gabor Thomas of the University of Reading.
Leiston Abbey (DigVentures) Project Page Dig Diary
DigVentures run crowd-funded digs, this is their second year at Leiston Abbey in Suffolk.
Sedgeford (Community Project) Project Page Dig Diary
Overseen by Dr. Neil Faulkner, the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) is one of the largest independent archaeological projects in Britain, and firmly rooted in the local community.
More comprehensive lists of fieldwork for 2014 can be found on the CBA website, and the British Archaeology and Current Archaeology magazine web sites.