How To… Deturf Your Trench By Hand Like A Boss


Yes, we’re removing the turf on our trenches by hand. Yes, it’s usually done with a big yellow machine. Yes, we realise it’s going to take a fair amount of time… Or is it?

First things first, why are we doing it by hand when we could do it with a JCB? Well, we know the archaeology here is really close to the surface. And it’s really delicate. It’s been ploughed too. All good reasons for choosing to do it by hand.

But by hand doesn’t have to be laborious. Not if you get organised.

One of the Venturers took the task to hand, and it goes a little something like this:

One person leads the way cutting lines along the X axis.


One person follows cutting lines along the Y axis.


And one person follows lifting up the little squares of turf, or scooping them up like a slice of cake and chucking it into the wheelbarrow.


Until finally, you have something that looks like this…


And that, archaeology friends, is how to deturf your trench by hand in the most efficient way possible.

Henry Ford, eat your heart 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