Dirty Weekends DigVentures at Poulton

Unearth 10,000 years of human history on one great site!

DigVentures is heading for another Dirty Weekend at the Poulton Project this April!

This Dirty Weekend is perfect for anyone who wants to experience a huge range of archaeology in one weekend. So far, archaeologists have uncovered everything from mesolithic flints, to medieval burials – and everything in between, including a Roman farmstead and… Iron Age roundhouses!

It’s a rare opportunity for to dip your toes in on a hugely varied archaeological adventure – one that spans 10,000 years – all while being part of active research on one of the most important multi-period landscapes currently being excavated in the North West!

The largest lowland Iron Age settlement West of the Pennines

Located three miles south of Chester, Poulton was discovered (archaeologically-speaking) in 1995 during the search for a lost Cistercian Abbey, when excavation unexpectedly revealed the foundations of a medieval chapel and associated graveyard containing approximately 2,000 burials. Research soon uncovered uncovered Mesolithic flints,  Neolithic and Bronze Age farming tools, an extensive and high status Roman landscape and to top it all off… the largest Iron Age lowland settlement discovered west of the Pennines!

The scale of the archaeology is matched by the preservation of the remains and volume of material recovered, now consisting of over 50,000 finds. Poulton is a rich and unique site that is changing the way the prehistory of the region is viewed.

What did we find in 2015?

DigVentures last Dirty Weekend at Poulton (24th -26th April 2015) was SOLD OUT, and for a good reason! The archaeology definitely delivered, and our Venturers were up to their elbows excavating Roman structures, Medieval deposits and numerous Iron Age roundhouses. The finds weren’t too shabby either, with our intrepid team of Venturers discovering Roman cooking pots, butchered animal bone and an Iron Age bone toggle that would have fastened a cloak or coat.

Tell me more!

This year, we’ll be arriving on Friday evening for an orientation session at 8pm at the Albion Inn in Chester. That’s when you’ll get to meet the Poulton Research Project archaeologists, DigVentures staff and your fellow Dirty Weekenders, of course! And have a pint or two…

Site work will begin on Saturday morning with a site tour before getting into the trenches alongside the project team and DV archaeologists. After a full day’s hard graft, we have an evening lecture (start time around 6:30pm) , Chester.  This fantastic pub has a First World War theme and comes highly recommended by our crew and Venturers for food and drink. Following the lecture, you can plan your own outing in Cheshire, or feel very welcome to stick around Saturday night for dinner at the pub with the DigVentures crew!

Digging will continue on Sunday, and there will also be specialist lectures about some of the finds from Poulton, including the very special human remains that help illustrate the life of Poulton’s past community. Sunday’s activities will begin at 10:00am and tools down will be approximately 16:00pm. There will be plenty of opportunities for restorative cups of tea and biccies throughout both days, and comfort breaks are entirely on your own schedule.

*Please note that Poulton is located about 20 minutes drive from the nearest town, and we will be staying on site for the duration of the day (including lunch), so please come prepared with a packed lunch and appropriate outdoor clothing.

What will we be doing?

You will be trained by DV’s professional archaeologists and will work with them and the Poulton Site Director Kevin Cootes to excavate, record and preserve archaeological features in the site’s active trenches. In 2016, the excavations will be just as exciting as last year, with a rare opportunity to focus on excavating the Iron Age roundhouses. Poulton is the largest Iron Age settlement of its kind to be found in the North West.

We will also have a Saturday night VIP speaker, who will talk about the 20 years of excavation at Poulton. There will also be a site tour, and specialist sessions including finds identification and osteoarchaeology, looking at some of the rare and special evidence that has been found at Poulton. We’ll be busy – and you will learn more about the fascinating life of Poulton than you can possibly imagine.

Please note that we will be staying on site for the duration of the day (including lunch) both Saturday and Sunday, so please come prepared with a packed lunch and appropriate outdoor clothing.

What if it rains?

We understand that the British weather doesn’t always come up trumps, so if the heavens open we’ll get out of the muddy field and into the warm indoor archaeology laboratory to examine, question and record archaeological objects from the vast collections excavated at Poulton.

The Details

Dates: 15th-17th April 2016

Cost: £325 per person, which includes tuition, coffee/tea, all lectures, and a DigVentures tee shirt, with a 20% discount if you book for two through the Friends with Benefits option (£520).

Meeting Point: Friday night meeting at the Albion Inn, Chester. Saturday morning meeting at the Poulton Project.

Please note that Poulton is located about 20 minutes drive from the nearest town, and we will be staying out on site for the duration of the day (including lunch), so please come prepared with a packed lunch for both days.


Friday evening: 8:00pm arrival at the Albion Inn. Please note there will be a mandatory Health and Safety talk, as well as a Risk Assessment. If you cannot make this meeting, please let us know as soon as possible.


09:00    Meet at the site
09:30    Site tour, and then work begins
11:30    Tea break
13:00    Lunch (please bring a packed lunch)
15:30    Tea break
17:00    Tools down!
18:30    VIP lecture at the Albion Inn: Site Director Kevin Cootes, ’20 years of research at the Poulton Project’

Please note, the DV crew will be sticking around at the Albion Inn for dinner. We encourage everyone to stay and have dinner as a group, but you are also welcome to make your own evening plans.


09:30    Meet at the site
10:00    Work begins
11:30    Tea break
13:00    Lunch (please bring a packed lunch)
14:00    Site work or finds/osteoarchaeological sessions
16:00   End of day

 Accommodation and Travel

*Please note, accommodation is not included in the Poulton Project Dirty Weekend.

Never fear! We’ve got you covered. Click here for a great list of recommended accommodation and directions, and a map with travel timings and suggested routes. Easy peasy!

What should I pack?

You will need warm clothing, preferably layers, and extras of everything in case you need a change during the day. We will provide all the cookies, tea and coffee and other dig-site tools you may need – though if you have your own trowel, it’s best to bring it along!

  • Lunch for both days
  • A full set of waterproofs
  • Boots: wellies and/or study boots, plus a change of footwear
  • Backpack: to bring a change of clothes to site
  • A warm hat and gloves
  • A plastic carrier bag: to put your muddy boots in when we go to the pub – no muddy shoes allowed inside!
  • Anything else you might need for a two-day working weekend

*You must be 17 or older to participate. Minors are welcome if accompanied at all times by a parent or guardian who is also a registered participant for the weekend.

Any questions? Send us an email on hello@digventures.com or call 0333 011 3990

Want to bring a friend, or plan a group outing? Ask about discounts through our Friends with Benefits programme!

  • Receive 20% off the price if a friend joins you
  • Sign up five friends and you come for free!
  • Special rates available for larger groups

Want to buy a Dirty Weekend as a present for someone? 

We’ve got some handy-dandy Gift Certificates, and we’ll send you a nifty PDF certificate for your lucky loved one.

Book now