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Everything you need to know about joining this year’s dig. Please read it carefully!

'Safe Dig' Measures

By choosing to join our Dig or Finds Team, you are agreeing to abide by our Safe Dig measures, so here's what you need to know, do, and bring

⚠️ What to know

At DigVentures, we’re really looking forward to getting back outdoors, doing some fantastic archaeology, and making loads of exciting discoveries together. We’re also totally committed to minimising the risk of anyone contracting or spreading COVID-19 while on one of our sites.

We have officially been certified Good To Go by Visit England and partners, and our team has put loads of measures in place to keep you safe.

Our team will be social distancing (2m+), wearing facemasks, making sure all tools, surfaces, equipment and toilets are sanitised each day, and plenty more.

But staying safe is a team effort!

By joining our team on site, you are agreeing to bring all the essential items on our Safe Dig kit list, and to abide by all of our Safe Dig rules – including the ones below, and any new or additional ones we may introduce when you arrive on site.

Our Safe Dig rules are more rigorous than those you might observe in other outdoor public places, but with good reason; they are based on very careful consideration of the specific kinds of activities that take place on archaeological sites, and the amount of time we will all be spending together as a team.

So, as a member of our team, please make sure you bring all the essential items on the Safe Dig kit list, and read the Safe Dig rules carefully.

👜 What to bring (Safe Dig Kit List)

These are items which you won’t be able to take part without

*Facemask and visor (you may find one or the other more comfortable or appropriate in different situations e.g., a facemask may be better when it’s windy, but a visor may be better if you’re using a mattock. Therefore it is adviseable to bring both, but if you can only bring one, bring a facemask)

*Personal supply of hand sanitiser, tissues / paper towels

*Work gloves, like Polyco Matrix P Grip Glove (if you’re on the Dig Team)

*Disposable gloves (if you’re on the Finds Team)

*Sturdy boots (like hiking boots, or Dr Martens)

*Clothes that you don’t might getting dirty

*Waterproofs and weather appropriate clothing

*Sunhat and sunscreen

*Drinking water

These are ‘comfort’ items that we cannot provide for you this year, but which you might want to bring

*Lunch and plenty of snacks (there are also plenty of cafes, but queueing times may be longer than usual)

*Any soft or hot drinks, including your own mug, spoon, and sweeteners (there are also plenty of cafes, but queueing times may be longer than usual)

*Camping chair for break times (again, there are also plenty of cafes, but you will also be able to use the Crossman Hall at break times)

*A spare pair of clean shoes or boots if you want to check out the shops or come to the pub in the evening

*Labels for your personal items or dig kit

These are items that we will provide for you, but you might prefer to bring your own

Dig Team – Personal dig kit:

4 inch WHS pointing trowel


Hand shovel

Kneeling pad

Finds Team – Personal finds cleaning kit:

2 x soft toothbrushes

Small plastic bowls

Cotton buds

Wooden toothpicks

These are items that we don’t usually provide, but which you might wish to bring for educational purposes

*Archaeology Skills Passport (if you want to make a formal record of the skills you’ve learned)

*Pen and notepad


👍 What to do (Safe Dig rules)

By joining our Dig Team or Finds Team on site, you agree to:

– Bring all the items included on our essential Safe Dig kit list, especially a facemask
You will not be allowed to enter the excavation or finds area if you are not wearing a facemask

– Wear your facemask at all times when you are within the excavation or finds area (even when more than 2m away from others)
This includes while excavating in the trenches, or taking part in any other group archaeological activity, like surveying, sieving, recording, or cleaning finds. Think of it like wearing pants – don’t take them off in public!

– Wear your gloves when using any shared DigVentures equipment, or handling artefacts

– Stay at least 2m away from others wherever possible
You can form a Dig Bubble with friends or family members that you are travelling or sharing accommodation with. Outside of that, we will always try position you 2m apart from the nearest person. However the nature of archaeology means that there is a lot of movement within the trenches, so please help us by staying alert to where you are in relation to others

– Minimise your contact with / exposure to others whenever it is not possible to stay 2m apart
This might include specific instances like handing over finds for examination, or receiving instruction on how to excavate a specific feature

– Do not share your personal dig or finds kit items with others as far as possible
You will be given your own dig kit or cleaning kit to keep for your personal use during the day. Or you can bring your own (see the Safe Dig kit list).

– Sanitise all surfaces and shared DigVentures equipment before and after use, especially before passing to anyone else
This includes mattocks, spades, shovels, wheelbarrows, pens, drawing boards, cameras, tables, finds team chairs etc.

– Sanitise your hands when entering or leaving the trench
Remember to sanitise your hands regularly!

– Abide by any additional Safe Dig measures given when you arrive on site
This list is not exhaustive, but a summary of the main things you’ll need to do

When filming or taking photos, you agree to:

– Maintain social distancing
As tempting as it is to try and get a close-up, or bunch together for group photos, cameras do not grant you temporary immunity 😉

– Check your images for any breaches before posting publicly on social media
We would prefer to personally remind anyone involved on site, rather than have you, or anyone else pictured, face a social media backlash

If you are travelling from overseas, you agree to:

– Check whether you need to self-isolate on arrival in the UK
If you do, please make sure you have self-isolated for the required period before arriving on site to join our team

Please remember that although our Safe Dig measures are more rigorous than in other outdoor public places, they are based on very careful consideration of the specific kinds of activities that take place on archaeological sites, the amount of time we will all be spending together, and respect for our team and everyone who is joining us on site.


🚽 Toilets and break times

There are public toilets next to the Crossman Hall which you can use (you will not be able to use those inside the Crossman Hall itself).

This year, we will not be providing any refreshments, so you’ll either need to bring your own hot drinks or get them in one of the local cafes.

And, as much as we love cookies and cakes, this year we are discouraging the archaeological tradition of bringing home made sweet treats to share. It pains us to say this, but please don’t offer any around (unless your name is David ‘Cookie Monster’ Robinson and you have already made a prior agreement with the DigVentures team for a special occasion)

Shelter for break time or bad weather
We will not be providing the usual on site shelter for break times or bad weather. However, you will be able to join our team in the Crossman Hall, or head to one of the local cafes.

Meeting time & place

Please remember: LINDISFARNE IS A TIDAL ISLAND AND YOU CAN ONLY CROSS THE CAUSEWAY AT LOW TIDE, WHICH CHANGES DAILY. If you're coming from the mainland, the first thing you need to do is check the start, finish and safe crossing times below, to make sure you can get on and off the island in time for the dig.

⏰ Start, finish, and safe crossing times

The excavation runs from Tues 07 – Sun 26 September 2021 (excluding Mondays)

If you’re joining the Dig Team in the first week, we have allowed 20 minutes from the earliest safe crossing time until the start of the day. This should be enough to cross safely, park and find your way to our meeting point, but if it takes you a bit longer, don’t worry – take your time and don’t attempt to cross the causeway any earlier than is safe to do so – the most important thing is to make sure you cross safely!

Your first day on site is the most important, as you’ll need to complete the archaeological briefing before we can get you digging or handling artefacts. Make sure you plan your journey to get to our meeting point (Crossman Hall) in plenty of time.

We’ve included the relevant safe crossings below for getting to the dig on time, but you should also check Northumberland County Council’s website for the full tide timetable.


Coming soon!


📍 Meeting point

Our daily meeting point:

Holy Island Village Hall – Crossman Hall
Crossgate Lane
Holy Island
TD15 2ST

There is parking at the main island car park, and the hall is just a short walk away from there.

☎️ Contact

There’s not much we can do if you miss the low tide and get stuck on the mainland, but if you are running late, or aren’t sure where you’re going, please call us on:

07497 384 211

Please DO NOT try to cross the causeway if it is during the unsafe tide times, even if it looks like the tide is still low and it’s safe to cross, the road is about a mile long and things can change very quickly. The Coastguard gets called out to stranded vehicles multiple times a year, and attempting to cross the causeway at unsafe times is a serious risk to life.

Other information

🚗 Parking

There is parking at the main island car park, and the Crossman Hall is just a short walk away from there.

Please try to use the main island car park if possible – it’s only a short walk, and parking in the village can be very busy, and it’s good to try and leave the few available spaces free for residents and those who need it.

🏝 Safe crossings

You can check the safe crossing times on Northumberland County Council’s website.

Click here for the official tide timetable.

🛒 Local ammenities

Holy Island is a very small, but it does have several cafes, gift shops and pubs. There are no grocery shops on the island, but you can get deliveries from online supermarkets.

There is also a post office where you can take out small amounts of cash (this service may not be available to those without a UK bank account).

There are also limited transport links from Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

There are public toilets on the island.

🚙 Ride sharing and bicycles

If you’re staying on the mainland and don’t have a car, you can easily cycle across the causeway.

Alternatively, you can book a taxi or get in touch with your fellow Venturers by joining the DigVentures Facebook Group Chat group.

It’s a good place to say hello to the people you’ll be digging with, and make shared travel plans if you wish.

💬 DigVentures Group Chat

If you’re on Facebook, you can join the DigVentures Group Chat. This is the place to say hello to your fellow Venturers, share memories, and ask people about making shared travel plans.

👣 Visitors

Unfortunately, we are not currently inviting visitors to site – sorry! This is to help protect our staff and our Venturers from the spread of Covid-19. If you want to be kept in the loop with everything we find, and what we do with it next, the best way to do this is to become a Digital Digger. You can do that here.

♿️ Taking part with a disability

We strive to do our best to ensure everyone has a chance to experience archaeology, and have worked with many differently-abled participants on our sites. There are practical considerations for special accommodations in dig environments, and we are very happy to discuss these on a case-by-case basis and do whatever we can to ensure a safe and exciting experience for everyone. Please notify us as soon as possible if you are concerned about your level of ability so that we can discuss options for participation.

📚 Reading list

Whether you read absolutely nothing, or everything you can get your hands on, you’ll learn loads while you’re on site with us. If you do want to get stuck in before you arrive, you can find out loads about what we’ve already discovered at

If you want to start something light, but still historically rigorous, we’d recommend The King in the North, by Max Adams – it’s about King Oswald, who founded the very monastery we’re looking for.

If you want something a bit more academic, there’s plenty of material by Dr David Petts (who is collaborating on the project with us) available online, including: 

Petts, D, 2013. Expanding the Archaeology of Holy Island (Lindisfarne). Medieval Archaeology 57: 302-307

Petts, D, 2013. The Archaeology of Holy Island. The Tweed Valley Archaeological Journal, 172:sup1, 26-28

Petts, D. – Early Medieval Lindisfarne. YouTube video of a York Department of Archaeology Livestream

There are a few more books too:

O’Sullivan, D, Young, R, 1995. English Heritage Book of Lindisfarne Holy Island, London: English Heritage.

O’Sullivan, D, 2001. Space, silence and shortage on Lindisfarne: the archaeology of asceticism in A. MacGregor and H. Hamerow (eds), Image and Power in the Archaeology of Early Medieval Britain: Essays in Honour of Rosemary Cramp, Oxford: Oxbow Books, 33-52

Foot, S, 2009. Monastic Life in Anglo Saxon England c. 600-900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

And finally, the British Library has digitised the Lindisfarne Gospels (also on display in the treasures gallery!)

The Lindisfarne Gospels Digitized by The British Library “Turning the Pages”

If you’ve got anything to recommend to your fellow diggers, tweet us at @TheDigVenturers!

⛏ Archaeology Skills Passport

If you are interested in recording your skills progression, we also recommend buying a BAJR Skills Passport. You can get them here.

👌 Choosing the right trowel

We provide all the tools you need to be able to dig with us, but you might want to bring your own trowel, especially if you’re digging with us for a longer period of time.

If you do decide to bring your ow trowel, it’s important to have the right kind. We suggest a WHS 4-inch pointing trowel. You can find these online at Past Horizons.

📱 Digital Dig Team

Digital Dig Team is DigVenture’s HLF-funded digital archaeological recording system. It is a customised digital recording system: think of it as an online version of the traditional paper context sheets used by archaeologists.

Our team (including you) will be standing over the trenches with iPads, recording vital information including photos, plans and information about who did the digging. We’re putting our excavation online. This will allow us to report our primary data from the trenches every day in real time, and all of our experts, specialists and Venturers will have access to it through the internet. No need to wait a year for the site report: you can see the information as it happens!

This new system is going to help archaeologists to do our jobs better, and also enable us to involve the public even more in our work. Digital Dig Team is the future of fieldwork – and we’ll be using it on all of our sites, as well as partner projects.

💬 Social media

Yes! One of the most important parts of any DigVentures project is sharing what we’re doing with the rest of the world. We have followers all around the globe who love to see where we’re doing archaeology and who we’re working with.

We will be broadcasting every day with blogs, tweets and on pretty much all other forms of social media. We encourage all of you who are active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to join us in providing a stream of information right from the trenches, but please remember that you are representing DigVentures in your posts.

We will do our absolute best to ensure that each of you has a fantastic time on site, but if you have any questions or concerns while you’re with us, please do speak to a member of staff before you post anything in the public domain.

Here are our simple and considerate rules for social media:

  1. Respect confidentiality if it’s requested – VERY IMPORTANT
  2. Follow all guidance given about sharing archaeological discoveries, especially sensitive finds like human remains (everyone will have a social media briefing on their first day)
  3. No insulting or abusive language about fellow diggers, the public or DigVentures staff
  4. Be polite and show respect for your colleagues and readers
  5. If in doubt, just ask a DigVentures archaeologist to review your post before you hit ‘post’
🤔 Answering questions from other tourists

Holy Island is a tourist attraction, and the site where we will be working is right in front of the abbey – it’s very visible and we will be in contact with the general public at all times. We encourage people to visit our sites even if they’re not digging with us, so it’s likely that you will come into contact with people who are curious during the dig.

We will do our best to help you feel empowered and knowledgable enough to answer any questions people have for you, both on site and off site. We strongly encourage you to speak to people asking questions, after all, this is your archaeology, if you’re asked a question you don’t know the answer to, just call over a member of DV staff and we’ll help you!

With that in mind, everyone who is part of the DigVentures project must be conscientious, polite and responsible in our communication with the public and use of buildings and shared spaces. Group clean-ups will be a regular activity, and we ask that everyone pitches in to make sure that we are clean and tidy.

🏥 Insurance

It is the responsibility and obligation of all participants to ensure that they have adequate travel insurance covering their tickets, personal belongings and health. It is essential to confirm with your insurance provider that you are permitted to work in a voluntary capacity under their terms and conditions.

💖 Health & Safety

We take the well-being of our staff and participants very seriously. There will be a certified First Aider present at all times for every dig, and all participants MUST complete the Medical forms and sign the Risk Assessment document before they can begin their experience. Both of these documents will be distributed on site.

Every participant will be introduced to all DigVentures staff, and the Site Director will make the expectations clear regarding on-site behaviours. In the event that any participant violates the outlined conditions, or places any other participant in danger as a result of their activities, that person will be immediately asked to leave and will forfeit the remainder of their experience.

🛂 Visas and passports

Participants are responsible for making sure their passports are up to date and for securing any necessary visas. In most cases your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond your stay in the country you are visiting. Our dig experience may be based in a country for which you need a visa or you may also need a visa to travel through a country en route to your dig experience. If you are unsure about the applicable requirements, check with your travel company and/or the relevant embassy or consulate.

If you do have to apply for a visa for your dig experience, always ask for a tourist visa (unless stated otherwise in the dig Info Pack). Remember that the purpose of your visit is for vacation, holiday or travel. Immigration officials do not always understand, and words such as ‘working,’ ‘volunteering,’ ‘research’ or ‘archaeological dig experience’ can raise questions concerning the country’s foreign labour laws and/or questions about official research permits and credentials, etc. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the visa approval process, which can weeks or even months!

Note: If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and are traveling to the United States or through the United States en route to another country, you must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form online at least 72 hours before you depart for the U.S.

💉 Vaccines

Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and decisions about which vaccinations to receive should be made between you and your doctor. Health conditions around the world are constantly changing, so keep informed and consult your physician, a local travel health clinic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or The World Health Organization for the latest health information for travellers.

It may be worth checking that your tetanus vaccination is up to date prior to arriving on site.

🤠 Other safety and happiness measures

Our priority is to maintain a safe and friendly environment for our staff and participants. We love what we do, and we make a huge effort to welcome all participants to the world of archaeology with as much positivity and enthusiasm as possible. Our team hopes that everyone brings the same approach to our sites as we do, but we recognise that on very rare occasions things can go awry.

With that in mind, DigVentures operates a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for aggressive, harassing or threatening behaviour, and takes matters of interpersonal communications very seriously. This applies to members of the public, volunteers and staff. Support and advice is available for staff and participants experiencing or witnessing bullying, harassment or discrimination; should you have an issue, please approach a member of DigVentures staff for assistance.

For physical injuries we always have a trained first-aider on site, and we will go through a risk assessment when you join us, as in our experience, when people are aware of safety issues accidents are mostly avoided. You cannot dig with us unless you’ve had the health and safety briefing, so please make sure you are on time on your first day so we can go through this with you.

😳 Cancellation by DigVentures

If DigVentures cancels your dig experience for any reason within DigVentures’ control, we will refund 100% of what you have contributed for the experience at the time of cancellation. Alternatively, you may prefer that your contribution can be carried over to another of our dig experiences.

DigVentures can take no responsibility for any cancellation or amendment penalties that your travel company may charge you if you have to change your travel plans as a result of cancellation by DigVentures. Your travel arrangements are subject to the terms and conditions of the company through which you booked. Participants are encouraged to buy flexible, refundable tickets, and we strongly advise Trip Cancellation insurance.

Archaeology / In Your Hands