Last year, DigVentures started the Pay it Forward scholarship programme based on a challenge from one of our Venturers, Matt Law.

We were incredibly pleased to be able to bring five people to site last year, due to the generosity of members of the public who sponsored scholarships. And it’s happening again, this year, thanks to some fantastic individuals who want to make it possible for other people to join the DigVentures team.

We’ve just awarded our first 2013 Pay it Forward scholarship. Here’s the story of our artistic new Venturer, Kerrie Hoffman…

Pay it Forward DigVenturesAs an artist, I came to archaeology through a different route. Through my studies I came into contact with the combination of museums and artefacts alongside art, and this is what really sparked my interest in archaeology.

I am currently in my 2nd year studying archaeology at the University of York, and field archaeology is something I have unexpectedly come to love, having worked on two prehistoric sites and a Roman landscape.

I learned about DigVentures last year when the team came to York to give a talk about the unique Flag Fen Lives project. And as a Peterborough resident, I knew about Flag Fen already. I couldn’t attend the dig last year but I became interested in DigVentures especially as crowdfunding is a new and hotly debated medium for funding.

Leiston Abbey is especially interesting to me as a case study in my undergraduate dissertation. I will be looking at visual reconstructions of archaeological sites, and in turn will be creating my own. Alongside the Mesolithic site at Star Carr and a Roman landscape in Wiltshire, Leiston Abbey will provide an interesting comparison in the creation of such images. As a historical site with documents and upstanding remains, the process of creating a reconstruction will be very different indeed!

Reconstructions themselves are also a debated topic, do they add to archaeological understanding? Or create problems for the future? Do the public see them as useful? And how much are they based on evidence vs artistic interpretation? I hope to debate this topic and find alternatives, or improve upon existing methods in creating an experience for the viewer that adds more to interpretation and understanding than simply an image alongside some text.

The opportunity to be on site and to do some of the archaeology myself will help with the reconstructive process. A site that hasn’t been investigated before will be an added challenge. Being able to investigate life in the abbey over time through both excavation and historical texts will hopefully enable me to create some exciting and different images! Plus – as an added bonus – probably help me with my buildings module next year.

Due to my financial circumstances, the University of York have generously donated extra funding so that I can attend the dig, but I still would not have been able to attend the full two weeks and get the material I need for my dissertation if I had not been awarded the DigVentures Pay It Forward scholarship. I am really excited to meet all the other diggers and to be part of the team, and I can’t wait to start digging (and drawing)!

I will be adding stories about my archaeological art to my new blog in the near future – please do stop by the site and have a look at my drawings!

Would you like to sponsor a Pay it Forward scholarship, so that DigVentures can bring someone to site for once-in-a-lifetime archaeological experience? Get in touch: info@digventures.com or click here. We’d love to hear from you!

Always wanted to try archaeology?

DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Support one of our digs and you can choose to watch our discoveries as they happen, or roll up your sleeves and excavate alongside our team!

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Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Co-founder and Managing Director of DigVentures, Lisa makes sure the boxes are ticked, the diggers run on time, and that everyone has a *really* good time along the way. She is responsible for the Americanisms, ridiculously strong site coffee and early morning DV dance parties.

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