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.

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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...

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