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Yorkshire’s distinctive limestone uplands hide a fascinating secret; caves full of ancient human remains and archaeological wonders dating all the way back to the Ice Age. Join our expert team and venture into the deepest, darkest depths of Yorkshire’s past…

The Yorkshire Dales is studded with the remains of Norman tower houses, Roman military bases, Iron Age enclosures and Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds. But it also has a fascinating archaeological secret.

It’s home to half of all the known caves in Great Britain. Inside them, archaeologists have found evidence that lions, rhino and elephant once roamed the Yorkshire Dales, that Ice Age hunter-gatherers sheltered in their depths, and that Romano-British people used them for burials, and for worship.

Want to venture deep into Yorkshire’s past? Want to learn about cave archaeology? Fancy making some real discoveries? Then join us this August as we investigate an as-yet-unexcavated cave that we believe may hold some spectacular secrets.

What is so special about this cave?

It’s all about location. Neighbouring caves have produced extensive bone assemblages showing that species now only found in Africa once thrived right here in the Dales, alongside giant deer and other temperate woodland species.

But it’s not just about the animals. Surrounding caves also contain tools left by the first Magdalenian hunter-gatherers to return after the last Ice Age, Neolithic burials, mine shafts containing azurite and malachite, a Roman chariot and even evidence of a Romano-British cave cult. This cave is perfectly placed to add to the growing body of evidence of life in the Yorkshire Dales over the last 125,000 years.

What will we be doing?

You’ll be digging from day one! Excavating in caves is a unique challenge; we’ll learn how to excavate in this unfamiliar environment, get to grips with the basics of the geology you’ll need to understand how the cave deposits formed, how to interpret anything you find, and record it online for the rest of the world to see.

All our excavations are suitable for total beginners, and we don’t require any previous experience, but if you do have lots of digging experience already, this one will certainly add to your skillset!


Our Dirty Weekends start with a rendez-vous and briefing at 8pm on Friday night. Excavation days begin at 8am, and we reconvene for dinner together in the evenings.

More information about the meeting point, and recommendations on where to stay, will be available a little closer to the time, but as a rough guide, we’ll be close to the village of Settle.

Food and accommodation

Food and accommodation is not included. We recommend bring packed lunches, and then joining us in the local pub for dinner in the evening!

What if I want to dig for longer?

This excavation runs for a full week from 15th-21st August. If you can’t make the weekend, or would like to dig with us for longer, you’ll also be able to book yourself in for a day, two days or a full week very soon! Check back tomorrow for extra booking options.

Any questions?

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in a real, live, in-progress excavation attempting to uncover one of Britain’s biggest mysteries. If you’ve got any questions about joining the team, email or call 0333 011 3990.

Book now!