Field School

As Indiana Jones once said: “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library!”

One of the reconstructed Bronze Age roundhouses at Flag Fen. A great place for telling ghost stories...

23rd July – 12th August 2012

The DigVentures field school at Flag Fen will be your chance to dig alongside some of the most experienced field archaeologists in the world. In addition to Time Team’s Raksha Dave, who will be the Project Manager and head of the field school, we’ve assembled a team of top-notch Bronze Age and wetlands archaeology specialists, who will be able to explain everything about the history, environment, conditions and artefacts at Flag Fen.

We have also arranged a unique programme of evening lectures, called the DVIPs, which will bring archaeological superstars to site to give presentations, have dinner with us, and possibly even join us in the trenches. On the evenings that we don’t have lectures, there will be optional activities or free time. You can read more about our confirmed DVIP lecturers here.

What will we be digging this year?

Good question! Everyone who joins us on site will have a chance to participate in all parts of the excavation. We will make sure you have the training and supervision you need -we won’t be throwing you into sensitive archaeology, such as the timber causeway. Some parts of the site, such as the causeway and platform, must be treated quite sensitively, so trenches over these areas will be small and very controlled. There will be other trenches on site, however, and we know from previous excavations that these remains stretch back to the Neolithic. Our tasks:

  • Test pits, to assess the condition of the waterlogged wood and the impact of de-watering
  • Evaluation trenches, to define the profile and location of the edge of Northey Island and establish a coherent deposit model
  • GPS survey, to map all previously excavated features and trenches into a new site plan
  • GIS archive digitisation, to digitally enhance the plans and drawings that were saved from the museum fire in January 2000

There are various other things happening on site at Flag Fen this summer (you’ll have to wait until the announcement in April!), which will also provide opportunities for our Venturers to gain more experience in areas such as museum development, collections processing, education, and more.


DigVentures will supply the essential tools, however you should at least consider bringing your own trowel – even if you are just joining us for a day. An archaeologist’s trowel is their most prized possession, and they hate to loan them out! You can find most of what you need in the Past Horizons online tool store.


We will be camping on site, which means that you should be prepared to pack camping equipment, bedding, appropriate clothing, toiletries, a towel, and anything else you can’t live without. There will be amenities on site such as showers, loos, and cooking facilities, and we will also arrange for visits to do laundry, pick up supplies, etc. There are some hotels and B&Bs in the area, which will require you to have your own daily transportation back and forth.

We will be using several areas at Flag Fen that are open to the public, including the Museum and Visitor Centre. We will each need to do our part to be conscientious, responsible, polite and mature in our use of the buildings. Group clean-ups will be a regular activity, and we will expect everyone to do their personal best at all times to pitch in.

Sample packing list:

  • waterproofs
  • fleece/jumper (it can get cold, especially at night!)
  • a torch
  • work boots
  • sun-tan lotion
  • bug spray
  • a hat
  • a water bottle
  • a towel
  • toothbrush/toothpaste/deodorant
  • sleeping bag
  • air mattress
  • tent
  • gardening-type gloves
  • a kneeling pad (if you have sensitive knees).
  • a pillow (a lot of people find this is an absolute necessity!)
  • any medication (we cannot dispense anything, including paracetamol)



A Bronze Age feast - nom nom nom!

We will provide basic breakfasts (coffee, tea, cereal, toast, etc) but if there’s anything you really can’t live without, please do feel free to bring it along. We will have the use of two kitchen facilities as well as storage and a refrigerator.

Lunches are not included in the field school fee, but we have arranged for a reasonably priced selection of sandwiches and salads to be made available each day. Dinners will be made on site and eaten together, and we will do our best to make sure there’s something for everybody – but again, if you’re very particular or have certain foods you can’t live without, please bring these along.


Schedule: A Day in the Life of DigVentures at Flag Fen

  • 8:00     Breakfast and orientation
  • 9:00     Work begins
  • 11:00   Elevensies
  • 1:00     Lunch
  • 3:30     Tea break
  • 5:30     End of work
  • 6:30     DVIP lecture or optional activity
  • 8:00     Dinner

Dig for a Day

Please arrive on site at Flag Fen no later than 8:00 am. If this will be a problem for you as a result of travel times and logistics, you are welcome to arrive the day before and camp overnight.

We intend to teach you the core techniques and skills essential to any field archaeologist.  In the morning, our team will greet you for registration, followed by an in-depth site tour. This will include a chance to see all the open trenches, and to discuss the aims of the site during the current field season and in the future.

By that point you should be ready for some serious digging!  All Dig for a Day-ers will be appointed to trenches, where they will receive one-to-one archaeological tuition from our experienced field team.  Think of it as an Archaeology 101, where we will teach you the finer points of excavation whilst getting in some real trowel action.

After lunch, you can choose to continue with your trench or we can attach you to one of the many specialists we will have on site.  Why not turn your hand at geophysics, finds processing or environmental sampling?  Of course if you simply want to be ‘at one’ with the dirt, then that’s fine with us too!

All Dig for a Day-ers are more than welcome to camp overnight with the team to take full advantage of our DVIP lecture programme, and more importantly sample the fine social subtleties of archaeological research excavations!

Please note that availability for Dig for a Day is on a first come, first served basis.  It may not be possible to place you on the first date of your choice due to student/staff ratios.  We will do our best to book your day as requested.

Dig for a week, two weeks, or three weeks

Our dig week runs from Tuesday morning – Saturday evening, which means you should expect to be at Flag Fen by 6:00pm on the Monday night prior to your first full day on site for an orientation meeting. You should plan for wrap-up by 5:30 on Saturday evening.

We recognise that you are looking for a well rounded programme, and we want to offer you the best experience a field school can deliver.  We are committed to your learning and development whilst in the field, as well as adding to your professional skill base.  All students will be given a one-to-one assessment with agreed achievable goals, to ensure that at the end of your time with DV you will leave with real transferable skills that can be used in the research or professional sectors.

We also want you to enjoy your stay and have fun too!  We will be setting up a base camp, and hope that many of you will join us in camping to get the real experience of being on site.  Breakfast and evening meals will be included in your package, as well as our DVIP lecture programme.