Located just outside of Peterborough, Flag Fen is acknowledged internationally as one of the most important Bronze Age sites in the world.
Flag Fen was discovered in 1982 by Francis Pryor MBE. It’s yet another classic story of how so many truly amazing archaeological sites are found: through chance, a bit of a stumble, and a lot of luck. But from the moment he picked up that first piece of pointed, shaped wood – showing clear tool marks made by an axe roughly 1.5 inches wide – Francis knew that he had found something special. It would take him years to untangle the archaeology at Flag Fen, and what it might have meant to the ancient people who built it.
Due to extensive drainage and development of the surrounding area, the waterlogged Bronze Age timbers still buried at Flag Fen are in danger of drying out, and crumbling to dust. It is estimated that a large part of the site will be lost within the next 20 years; our most important job in 2012 was to determine the condition of the buried archaeology, and determine just how much time we had left. An exciting mission!
So, with Francis’ blessing, in July 2012 we were able to crowdfund £32,000, and crowdsource a worldwide audience to help us excavate this internationally significant site, creating a worldwide community of archaeological enthusiasts.
We lived onsite at Flag Fen for three weeks in 2012, re-opening many of Francis’ earlier trenches as well as establishing new ones to investigate further targets. We also completed an augur survey around the perimeter of the area where we expected to find evidence of the platform. The results of this work were truly spectacular – and you can read all about them in the official Site Report, as well as take a look at the data from the trenches in our Open Data section.
It wasn’t just the archaeology that was so special about Flag Fen Lives. We brought in over 250 Venturers, from 11 countries and six universities, to work as part of our team. We trained over 130 of our Venturers on site in archaeological field skills, and increased visitors to Flag Fen by over 30% from the previous year. And of course, Site Dog stole the show!
Together, DigVentures and our Venturers completed a three-week research excavation on one of the world’s most important Bronze Age sites. We laughed, we cried, we learned, and we had an amazing time.
With the astounding recent discoveries at neighboring Must Farm, it’s clear that there is much more to the story for Flag Fen and its environs. These two sites must have shared a close relationship, perhaps even been part of the same community. As a result of our work and collaboration with other experts, Flag Fen is back on the agenda, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this very special place.
More about Flag Fen Lives
We captured all the archaeology and fun on film, so that everyone could be with us every step of the way, even if you couldn’t join us on site. Our videos are a unique record of site life, and give a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like. Check out the videos
We took hundreds of photos documenting every aspect of the dig. Have a sneaky peek at Lisa’s favourites, plus loads more!
We appeared in the local, regional and national press. You can see the interviews and read the articles on our homepage
The mighty Francis Pryor and our fantastic launch video!
We’ve talked a lot about our Venturers: the worldwide team who funded the dig, as well as got into the trenches with during the excavation. But who are they? The map below shows where they come from, and we’ve also got some great profiles that tell a little bit more of their stories.