BarrowedTime_with flints

DIG DATES: 4 – 17 JULY 2016

Do you want to make history? How about helping archaeologists to excavate a rare Bronze Age burial mound? One that’s never been investigated before, at a top secret seaside location? If your answer is yes, then THIS is your chance!

We’re crowdfunding a two-week excavation at a TOP SECRET location near Morecambe Bay, from the 4th – 17th July 2016, in a race against time to help the local community excavate an untouched Bronze Age burial mound recently discovered in their own backyard. This will be the first scientific excavation of a Bronze Age burial mound in Northwest England in over 50 years.

We’ll be live-streaming from site and, in partnership with Morecambe Heritage and with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, hosting the dig HQ, Archaeology Incident Room and Pop-Up Museum in Morecambe Heritage Centre on the beachfront promenade.

Support the project and you’ll be able to watch us at work from the comfort of your own home, work alongside professional archaeologists in the trenches, or come and help out in the Archaeology Incident Room. Whichever way you choose to get involved, you’ll be part of the team carrying out the first scientific excavation of a Bronze Age burial mound in the northwest in over 50 years, all while having a proper English seaside adventure!

PLUS, for every person who contributes at Dig for a Day level and above, we’ll generate a Dig for a Dig* place for someone local who would not otherwise be able to participate.

Background

One fine day, metal detectorists Matthew Hepworth and David Kierzek headed out to survey a small hill in a field overlooking Morecambe Bay. They had a hunch that here lay something special, and they were right; Matthew’s detector picked up a bronze knife and chisel lying just under the surface. As it turned out, the items they’d found were 3,000 years old dating from the Middle to Late Bronze Age (1,000-800 BC) – this unassuming hill was actually a burial mound!

Matthew immediately reported the finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, who dug a small test pit to verify his finds. The results confirmed the need for a full-scale archaeological investigation, and THAT’S where you come in…

Tell me about the archaeology

Barrows (or burial mounds) are a feature that emerged on the landscape during the Neolithic – you can spot them all over southern and northeast England, but they are comparatively rare in the northwest. Even more rare is to find one that has not been disturbed by ploughing or previous investigation, and the opportunity to investigate it using the most up-to-date techniques.

Archaeologists and antiquarians have been excavating barrows since the 19th century, and many have revealed hoards and elaborate burials. But for archaeologists, there’s something even more interesting about them than the potential of finding gold. Many were often in use for thousands of years, with people adding to them over time. Peeling back the many layers and unfolding their story requires very careful excavation.

Anyone who supports the dig at ‘Dig for a Day’ level and above will be trained by DigVentures, and excavations will be carried out in partnership with Bronze Age experts including Stuart Noon, PAS Finds Liaison Officer, and Dr Ben Roberts, who is Lecturer in Museum Studies at Durham University and was previously the Bronze Age curator at the British Museum.

Tell me what you’re looking for

This will be the first scientific excavation of a Bronze Age burial mound in Northwest England in over 50 years, presenting the team with an unparalleled research opportunity to use the best and most innovative field techniques. Preliminary investigations suggest that the burial monument was in use for 1,500 years, beginning in the Late Neolithic period and ending somewhere in the Middle to Late Bronze Age.

The artefacts found so far are rare for the area, and remarkably well preserved. They also indicate that the barrow may contain an undisturbed burial, which presents a tremendous opportunity for further archaeological investigation.

We are obviously NOT looking for treasure, and we don’t expect to find anything of significant financial value. The special thing about this dig is the very rare opportunity it presets to meticulously excavate every single item exactly as it was put in place in the Bronze Age, using the latest archaeological recording techniques. The context of these finds has the potential to provide priceless information, helping us to better understand this period and the customs of Bronze Age Britons.

For now, we’re keeping the location of the burial mound secret to protect it from nighthawking, and we really can’t give too many details away. Instead, we’re establishing a dig HQ in Morecambe Heritage Centre on the beachfront Promenade, which will be the daily meeting point for everyone involved. It’s also where anyone who’s interested can stop by and hear all the news from site, see the objects we’re excavating, and be a part of the action!

And how can I help?

The excavation is being crowdfunded, and participation is open to anyone with an interest in supporting the first scientific excavation of a Bronze Age burial mound in the northwest in over 50 years.

You can help in a number of ways. You can support the dig from a distance and choose any of our amazing archaeological benefits in return. Or, you can go one step further and join the team in trenches, or in the Archaeology Incident Room located on Morecambe Promenade.

Please note: due to the sensitive nature of this project, places on the dig will be limited and allocated on a first come, first-served basis. If you want to join the team, don’t miss your chance!

Learn more and join the dig team