Saints & Secrets: the Lost History of Leiston Abbey


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DigVentures Leiston Abbey

DigVentures Ltd will be excavating the striking 14th century ruins of Leiston Abbey, one of the most completely preserved examples of a Premonstratensian monastery in the United Kingdom. And even better: our project will be the first-ever full programme of archaeological fieldwork on this amazing site.

Our work will be essential in identifying and understanding the archaeology at Leiston Abbey, how to build it into the foundations of a five-year Strategic Heritage Plan, and what this means for the future sustainability of the site.

We need to raise £18,000 to make this incredible project happen – and you can be a part of it, by supporting us through buying benefits. The more you contribute, the more involved you can become – from being one of the first to hear about our finds, to rolling up your sleeves and joining us on site.

What will we discover about the physical and social organisation of the abbey and its development, including its dissolution and adaptation as a farmstead?  What was the earlier phase of occupation pre-dating the abbey? What are all the mysterious humps and bumps surrounding the site?

It’s all up for debate, as we take to the fields in search of Leiston’s lost history. Please join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to investigate a nearly untouched site with a full programme of archaeological fieldwork!

Saints & Secrets

Leiston Abbey is owned by Pro Corda, a registered charity and school devoted to nurturing young musical talent through ensemble and performance training. Pro Corda has invited DigVentures to help them understand the heritage of the site, and integrate this fantastic resource with the artistic life of the school – meaning that our work will have a lasting legacy in the future of this fantastic place.

As soon as you support the project at any level, you will begin to receive news from the Site Hut, our online news hub containing exclusive daily project updates, interviews, films, and photos. If you can’t join us in the field, we’d love a crew of armchair archaeologists out there following our every move.

The field school at Leiston Abbey  (for those who purchase a benefit at £135 and above) will be really exciting this year. We’ve put a lot of thinking into making this the best experience possible, whether you are digging for a day, a week, two weeks, or the whole project. There will be dedicated staff providing orientation, training and instruction, as well as evening lectures, fun outings and plenty of time for questions. And some surprises, of course!

Places in the field school (from 2nd July – 14th July) are limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Click here for more information about the archaeological objectives and project designDigVentures Leiston Abbey

…and here for more about the Leiston Abbey site

…and finally here, for FAQs, and more about the field school and what to expect on site!

What do I do?

Pick a benefit level and purchase! Tell your friends and everyone you know, and ask them to get involved too. You can also purchase benefits as a gift for someone else: don’t we all know someone who has a bit of a geeky fascination with archaeology? Send them our way!

The more people who get involved, the more work we can do. And this year isn’t the end – there’s more work at Leiston Abbey than we could possibly finish in one season! Planning for the 2014 season is already underway, and we’ll be running more weekends after the summer as we evaluate the results and plan an updated Project Design based on the findings.

What happens after I have bought a benefit?

First things first, you will receive an email from us acknowledging your purchase and welcoming you to the DigVentures team. Immediately after the funding window closes, we will ship all physical merchandise such as pins and tee-shirts to our digital Venturers – those of you who will be joining us on site will receive your items when you arrive.

If you have purchased a benefit to join us on the dig, we will contact you right away to arrange a date, as places are limited and dates will be available on a first-come, first served basis.

Did we mention the party?

The End of Site party, of course! Every good site has a great party to celebrate the end of a successful season, and we’re no exception. Everyone who funds us will be invited to the DigVentures End of Site Party, where you will see a presentation on the season’s initial results, catch up on project news, mingle with the archaeologists, and get to meet other Venturers. And there’s bound to be some dancing too…

*Please note, the End of Site party is scheduled for Saturday 13th July at Leiston Abbey from 7:00pm – 11:00pm. Some camping sites or other accommodation may be available, and there are plenty of B&Bs in the area. Stay tuned for more details!

How do I get in touch with the DigVentures team?Leiston Abbey Dig Ventures

We’re here for you! All emails sent to will be read and replied to by one of the team. We’re also on Twitter (@TheDigVenturers), Facebook and Skype (digventures). Our office number is 0208 333 5770, but we’re often out on site, so email is best.

A little bit of fine print…

  • This dig is appropriate for people of all skill levels. Beginners welcome!

  • Training will be provided in excavation, recording, finds processing, buildings recording, geophysics and more. Evening lecture series included.
  • Facilities include camping with on site showers and catering.
  • We can accommodate all ranges of physical mobility.
  • Must be 17 or older. We will accept 15 -16 year olds if accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times who is also a registered participant of the dig.





DigVentures is archaeology, in your hands

DigVentures Leiston Abbey