Site Diary: Archaeology in the air!


If you get vertigo, you’d better look away now! DigVentures is taking to the skies over Leiston Abbey for an aerial photoshoot and the view from up here is AMAZING.

Exhilarating. Thrilling. Captivating. Incredibly useful. Those are just some of the words that describe the awesomeness of aerial archaeology.

Yes, archaeology is usually about going down, down, deeper underground. But to get the bigger picture, a birdseye view is sometimes needed.  This year, we brought in Adam Stanford (aerial archaeologist extraordinaire) to help our team of Venturers find what they were looking for at Leiston Abbey.

We have to admit that there was something pretty nerve-wracking when he arrived and we first set eyes on his brand new drone. It did, after all, look like something out of a sci-fi movie that could snatch you from your trench and take you to its evil lair.

Aerial Adam Daniel sidekick

Every drone needs a pilot, every pilot needs a sidekick and every sidekick needs… a cape?

But we soon realised that the butterflies in our stomach were actually down to something else: the anticipation of discovering something really awesome from the air!

This year, Adam teamed up with our videographer Daniel. While Adam flew the drone, Daniel controlled the camera, and the creative collaboration certainly paid off as these dramatic images just go to show.




Apparently, flying a drone is actually really easy, but it’s also really easy to get yourself (or your craft) into trouble. The rules around flying these aircraft are tight, and one of the most important things to remember is that the most exhilarating moments are those when you’re most at risk…

Aerial rabbit

Can you spot the white rabbit racing alongside the drone on the left side of the hedge? Don’t let it distract you!

Nevertheless, the views from up here are amazing. But it’s all about the archaeology!

aerial cropmark leiston abbey

Sure enough, we spotted an L-shaped cropmark. What could it be? We already had our suspicions as we’d spent the last few days excavating a trench just inside of it and found a floor and a tiny bit of wall. All it took was another test pit on the corner of the cropmark to prove that we’d found one of the abbey’s lost buildings!

Yes, it’s exhilarating when you dig something up that’s hundreds of years old. Even more so when you’ve flown a drone to help you find it!

Love 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. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!


Written by Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

Read more from Maiya Pina-Dacier +

Get Dig Mail

Keep up with the latest fun, facts & features from the world of archaeology.

Easy opt-out at any time - Privacy Policy

Archaeology / In Your Hands

Courses for anyone who wants to learn more about archaeology, and have fun while they're doing it!

Archaeology Courses

Our fab archaeology merch: dig team tee-shirts, Tatty Devine jewellery range, tote bags, and more!

Archaeology Shop