The New Doctor Who Features a Sonic Trowel, But Why?

sonic trowel

Sod Doctor Who’s new Sonic Screwdriver, we want River Song’s Sonic Trowel! The question is… what the hell does it actually do?

This year, the Doctor Who Christmas special has a real treat in store. Even if you’re not a fan, we can assure you, if you love archaeology, there’s a reason to watch.

From the just-released promo picture, it’s clear that the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver is finally being reintroduced. It’s also clear that he’s heading off to meet his archaeologist wife River Song and, presumably, bumps into a giant red robot somewhere along the way.

But it’s not the giant red robot, the doctor’s stylish new sonic screwdriver, or even River Song herself that’s got our attention. We’re more interested in what River appears to be holding.

Could it be… a Sonic Trowel??

sonic trowel omg


She is an archaeologist after all. The question is, what the hell does it actually do?

The scriptwriters are going to have to be pretty imaginative, because these days, the modern archaeologist’s toolkit is nothing if not full of futuristic gadgets. This year alone, we’ve seen archaeologists using satellites, drones, on-the-spot radiocarbon dating devices, underground scanners, secret-chamber-detecting-devices, lasers and something even better than x-ray vision. Hell, we’ve even been using a smartphone app to beam 3D models of artefacts around the world ourselves. And tech-loving archaeologists are as likely to use any of these widgets as they are a humble trowel or spirit level.

So what will the Sonic Trowel be able to do? Infer the social structure of an entire civilisation from a single potsherd? Generate a forcefield that’s impenetrable to anyone attempting to use the past for their own evil ends? Extract artefacts, features and contexts, without actually needing to dig?

We can’t wait to find out.

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