Barrowed Time

When DigVentures was called in to investigate a newly discovered Bronze Age burial mound, our crowdfunders found something truly remarkable.

134.5% Funded
/
£16,815 Pledged
/
£12,500 Goal
134.5%

About the Project

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!

FAQs

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!

Who benefits from the project?

Everyone! We’re going to publish all of our finds online, so that any discoveries you help us make will be freely available for the rest of the world to see. And we’re going to do it live, so that anyone can follow the progress of the dig in real time.

Excavations will be broadcast live to our Pop-Up Museum, hosted in Morecambe Heritage Centre on the beachfront promenade, which will also act as an Archaeology Incident Room – this is finds will be brought to be processed, and everyone will be welcome to pop in to see what’s going on.

Everyone who supports the project will be credited with their contributions, including anything they find. For archaeologists, it will provide fresh new sources of information to help study this transformative period in British history.

What is 'Dig for a Dig'?

We’re extending our Pay it Forward scholarship programme to include a ‘Dig for a Dig’. What this means is that for everyone who supports the campaign at a digging experience level (Dig for a Day and above), we will give a place on the dig to someone from the local area who would not otherwise be able to participate. We’re working with community and social care groups to make sure that everyone, from all walks of life, can be involved.

What’s it like to be a Digital Digger?

Think of it like getting an episode of Time Team made just for you, and having behind-the-scenes clips sent straight to your inbox. You’ll get to watch all of the action unfold, and even communicate with the team directly. And this year, our virtual red carpet and online film premiere will make it even more special. Go on… give it a go!

What’s it like to join the field team?

With DV, you really will get to be an archaeologist while you’re on site with us. We take this promise very seriously! We’re all experienced professionals (you might even recognize some of us off Time Team) and we run the only field school officially accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists in the UK. We’ll teach you all the skills you need to work alongside us in the trenches, and you will be making real and recognized contributions to internationally important research on one of the most exciting archaeological sites in the UK.

Excavations will also be carried out in partnership with Bronze Age experts including Stuart Noon (PAS Finds Liaison Officer) and Ben Roberts (previously the Bronze Age curator at the British Museum, and now Lecturer in Museum Studies at Durham University). All we need now to complete the team is YOU!

Are there any age limits?

This dig is appropriate for people of any skill level. Total beginners welcome! We will train you up with all the skills you need. Must be 17 or older. Ages 12-16 can also join the dig or Post-Ex on the Prom, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times who is also a registered participant. Parents are welcome to register children aged 6-11 for Post-Ex on the Prom, but must also be registered themselves. If you really want to get into the trenches with your 6-11 year old, you can register for DigCamp. We can accommodate a range of physical mobility. If you have concerns or questions about this, please get in touch with us to chat about if before you arrive on site.

What happens after I buy a benefit?

You will receive an email from us acknowledging your purchase and welcoming you to the DigVentures team. Immediately after the funding window closes, we will ship all physical merchandise to our digital Venturers – those of you who will be joining us on site will receive your items when you arrive. As soon as you support the project at any level, you will begin to receive our newsletter. Once we start digging, you’ll also get a ‘behind the scenes’ login to Digital Dig Team system, our online hub containing live information uploaded from the trenches, as well as exclusive daily project updates, interviews, films, and photos we’ll be broadcasting from site.

How do I get in touch with the DigVentures team?

We’re here for you! All emails sent to hello@digventures.com will be read and replied to by one of the team. We’re also on Twitter (@TheDigVenturers), Facebook and YouTube and Google+. Our office number is 0333 011 3990, but we’re often out on site, so email is best. T&Cs: Because this project is crowdfunded, your campaign support is non-refundable. If you have purchased a digging benefit but cannot make it to site in July, your experience will be transferable to a future DV project. Don’t worry – we’ll get you digging!

Where can I find out more about the project?

We will be launching a brand new online hub where you’ll be able to follow the excavation online in real time. In the meantime, you can read all about it in the Guardian, or on Culture 24. Just watch this space!

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