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DigVentures wins Heritage Lottery Fund support for innovative ‘Digital Dig Team’ project at Leiston Abbey

Today, DigVentures has received £74,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their ‘Digital Dig Team’ project, which will run from the 7th – 20th July 2014 at Leiston Abbey in Suffolk.

The project will combine a community excavation with innovative digital technology, to encourage participation and create greater public access to the rich archaeological heritage at Leiston Abbey. The project aims to inspire volunteers to become part of the excavation and post-excavation process, digitally co-creating, enhancing and interpreting the archaeological archive and creating a sustainable community resource for future research.

In a bold step forward for the heritage sector, the ‘Digital Dig Team’ project is also the first HLF-supported crowdfunded project in England, with a goal of raising £18,000 for this summer’s excavations. The campaign runs until 31st May, and has currently raised £7,500. The HLF’s grant commitment now means that any amount contributed by the public, starting at £10, will be worth three times its amount in match funding.

The principal goal of the archaeological work is to provide information that will assist the site custodians, Pro Corda, with the future management and presentation of Leiston Abbey, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval Premonstratensian abbey in the United Kingdom. The ‘Digital Dig Team’ project will enable local people to assist DigVentures archaeologists with the fieldwork as they work towards this goal, learning new archaeological techniques such as geophysics and topographic survey; building recording, including a full photogrammetry survey of the upstanding remains; excavation; and post-excavation assessment, publication and exhibition planning.

DigVentures at Leiston Abbey

The DigVentures team in action digging up a feature in the car park at Leiston Abbey in July 2013. The medieval ruins can be seen above the trees in the background.

A digital recording system will be developed for use in the fieldwork, and a dedicated website will contain archaeological information, instructional videos and background information about Leiston Abbey. A customised version of the recording system will be developed for children, which will be used as a ‘Cyber Dig’ educational experience for local primary and secondary schools. During the dig, there will be many opportunities for the public to visit and be involved, including open days, site tours and family weekends. An exhibition will form part of the post-excavation activities, which will be designed in partnership with young people in the local community and become part of Pro Corda’s new year-round visitor experience at the site.

Commenting on the award, Lisa Westcott Wilkins, DigVentures’ Managing Director, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our new model for funding, project design and delivery places communities at the very heart of the project and at every stage of the process. We believe that the new approach to preserving and exploring our shared heritage offered by Digital Dig Team and Cyber Dig will create a whole new way for the public to be involved in archaeology, and encourage many people who might not otherwise be able to take part. Leiston Abbey is a magical place, and we can’t wait to get started involving people in our work.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “HLF is delighted to support this exciting project which, thanks to Lottery player’s money, will enable volunteers to participate in a much wider scope of archaeological work. By using innovative technology, people will be able to get involved with not only the excavation phase, but also the post-excavation assessment and analysis, really engaging participants with the heritage of this fascinating site.”

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.

For further information, images and interviews, please contact
Lisa Westcott Wilkins, Managing Director at DigVentures, on 0208 333 5770 or lisa@digventures.com

Have you always wanted to try archaeology? Now is your chance!  You can join us here for a day, a weekend, a week or the full two weeks. See you on site!

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