Digging Darrow 2018

22nd May - 3rd June

Investigate the ruins of America's biggest Shaker settlement, and discover the rise and fall of a community attempting to build a new utopia

12.1% Funded
/
74 Days left
/
£10,000 Goal
12.1%

Darrow Highlights

Mount Lebanon is the biggest Shaker settlement in America. Hidden in the undergrowth are the remains of a community who once attempted to build a new utopia. You can help explore it.

The Shakers are one of America’s most intriguing social and religious movements. Starting out the 1700’s near Liverpool in north west England, the group soon fled persecution, following their founder Mother Ann Lee towards a place where they would be free to live as they chose.

Arriving in America, in 1787 they established a community on Mount Lebanon (New York State) which became 
the largest in the United States, and the spiritual centre of Shaker society: a society who from the very beginning believed in racial equality, female leadership and the swift adoption of technological innovation.

They were extremely successful , with numbers swelling, plenty of food, and communities working together to build huge meeting houses. From agriculture to pharmaceuticals, the Shakers took great strides forward and created very profitable endeavours. Many of their innovations, such as the distinctive architecture, sleek furniture, wheel-driven washing machines and mail order business models, were absorbed by wider society and live on in American culture today.

But their incredible success didn’t last. Numbers started dwindling and the settlement shrank. By 1937, the last piece of land had been sold to Darrow School and Mount Lebanon Shaker Village ceased to exist. What happened?

As one of the most famous attempts to build a new utopian society, their story – and the beautiful historic site they left behind – is a unique opportunity to understand what drove them, what contributed to their decline, and what this says about the development of the young United States of America itself. Our new archaeological investigation provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really dig deep and reason with the evidence.

In 2017, DigVentures launched our first crowdfunded excavation in the USA. With help from a wonderful crowd of supporters, we began mapping the full extent of the village, located  previously unknown ruins, and found that even more crucial evidence lies just beneath the surface of the gorgeous Darrow School campus. Our partnership with the school has taken great leaps forward, and the archaeological evidence we are collecting will now form part of the school’s core curriculum for new students; what better way can there possibly be to learn about the place where you live and learn than to come face-to-face with its past?

In 2018, our job is expand the excavations across previously undiscovered ruins, and to ground-truth mysterious features in the landscape discovered by our 3D digital landscape survey. What are these humps and bumps? And what were the buildings used for? Located just next to the oldest house on the campus, which pre-dates the Shakers, these could be clues to the site’s earliest inhabitants – or the very first things built by the Shakers themselves.

Join us in the beautiful Berkshire mountains as we reach back into history to learn more about the Shakers!

As one of the most famous attempts to build a new utopian society, the story  of the Shakers – and the beautiful historic site they left behind – is a unique opportunity to understand what drove them, what contributed to their decline, and what this says about the development of the young United States of America itself.

When their community began to decline in the early 20th century, the land was gradually sold to various private owners, including Darrow School, which took ownership in 1932. As the only school in the United States located on the site of an historic Shaker village, Darrow have been careful custodians of the site, and have even incorporated one of the Shakers’ core maxims, ‘Hands To Work’, into their ethos and syllabus.

Mount Lebanon was named a National Historic Landmark in 1966, and was recognized by the World Monuments Fund in both 2004 and 2006 as one of the 100 most significant endangered historic sites in the world.

The Shaker legacy is still visible in American culture today. From the very beginning, their society was filled driven by progressive ideals and a desire to build a new utopia. Only a continued excavation can help us understand the story of the Mount Lebanon Shakers and the important historic site they left behind at Darrow.

There are many established Shaker scholars, facilities and resources in the region, including the Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon and the Hancock Shaker Village, and our dig is intended to spark new research collaborations as well as make it possible for anyone who wants to learn more about the Shakers to join us on our mission.

The project began when DigVentures helped students at Darrow School carry out a small, targeted excavation in 2013. Enough evidence survived to warrant a further investigation in 2017, which produced yet more evidence and even revealed new, perviously unknown ruins. To complete the story, we need to:

  • Map out the enitre Shaker village. Their spatial architecture was unique, and we want to examine how it defined Shaker identities, reinforced their beliefs and brought Shaker ideology into being
  • Look for other demolished structures such factories, workshops, millponds, culverts, aqueducts, and spillways. We’ll look at how their experimentation with new technology and industrial innovation changed their landscape
  • Do plenty of excavation. We will expand the area of excavation that we started in 2013 to investigate industrial and domestic structures, and gather the evidence we need to learn more about the Shakers through their material culture
  • Use everything we find to continue exploring four big research themes. These include: utopian dreams, industrial landscapes, and the role of work in the Shaker spiritual experience, reflected in their famous aphorism, ‘hands to work and hearts to god’

To do it, we need to raise £15,000 – that should be just enough to cover two weeks of excavation and everything else that goes with it, including what we need in order to:

  • Plan the dig. There are some (fairly complicated) logistics involved!
  • Run the excavation. We need enough archaeologists on site to make sure that everyone who comes digging with us has plenty of expert support
  • Pay for all the ‘aftercare’. We’ll need specialists to analyse, conserve and take care of all the artefacts we find
  • Share lots of updates before, during and after the dig. It doesn’t start and end with excavation. We’ll be publishing videos, live streams, virtual artefacts and blogs so that you can watch the archaeology online!
  • Make sure that all of our data, discoveries and interpretation are freely available online. We think that the results of publicly funded research should be free and easy to access. We’ll be putting all of ours online as soon as they’re made.

At DigVentures, we believe that archaeologists can carry out internationally important research while also bringing as many people on this journey with us as possible, and making the thrill of discovery available to everyone.

What happens once I make my contribution?

PLEASE NOTE: We will be communicating with you using whichever email address you enter for your purchase. If you haven’t heard from us, please check your junk or spam folder.

As soon as you make a contribution to the campaign, you’ll get a payment confirmation.

We’ll then follow up with a welcome email thanking you for your contribution, and (where relevant) requesting a little bit more information about things like preferred dig dates, or details for your chosen reward, like t-shirt sizes etc.

You’ll need to reply to this welcome email as soon as you can to make sure we have all the details we need to get you booked in.

If you’re digging with us, we will send you an Info Pack with more information about the site, what to bring and joining instructions closer to the time.

If you need to book travel and accommodation, we’ve provided some hints and tips in the following FAQs.

If you have any other questions in the meantime, get in touch! You can reach us on hello@digventures.com, or 0333 011 3990

When will I get my goodies?

If you join the crowdfund before 14th December 2018, we’ll send your goodies (like t-shirts and chocolate artefacts) in time for Christmas.

If you join the crowdfund after that, we’ll send them in May at the start of the 2018 field season.

You’ll then start getting all your digital goodies (like videos updates and virtual artefacts) as soon as the dig begins!

Which days can I dig with you?

The dig runs from Tuesday 22nd May – Sunday 3rd June 2018.

We will have a day off on Monday 28th May.

You can start your dig experience on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

Which days can I join you in the lab?

If you don’t want to dig, but do want to help out in the Finds Lab, you can join us in the second week of the dig:

  • Tuesday 29th June – Sunday 3rd June 2018

You can start your lab experience on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

Where is it?

It’s in the grounds of Darrow School, Mount Lebanon, New York. We’ll send you more information once you’ve signed up!

What about travel and accommodation?

Darrow School is located in New Lebanon, NY, just on the border with Massachusetts. Darrow Road, marked by Darrow’s sign, turns off Route 20, seven miles west of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The campus is approximately 30 miles east of Albany, NY, and 10 miles west of Pittsfield, MA. It is 150 miles north of New York City, and 150 miles west of Boston.

There are a variety of public transportation options that will bring you close to the campus, if you do not have your own transportation. Uber has also brought people to the campus.

Address: 110 Darrow Rd, New Lebanon, NY 12125, USA

Airports: Albany International Airport is approximately 45 minutes by car from Darrow. Hartford’s Bradley International Airport is approximately 1 hour, 20 min. For international and long flights, JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, and Logan Airport in Boston are all approximately 2 ½-3 hours from campus. Pittsfield, MA, has a regional private airport for small airplanes and jets.

Amtrak train service: There are stations in both Pittsfield, MA, (serving the New England region) and Albany, NY, (serving Hudson/NY region)

Bus Service: Peter Pan, Greyhound, Bonanza, and other bus lines serve Pittsfield, MA, and the Albany area. We recommend traveling to the Pittsfield area if you are coming via bus.

Further travel info from Pittsfield: www.newenglandtravelplanner.com/go/ma/berkshires/pittsfield/trans/index.html

Where to Stay

There are plenty of options for accommodation. However, you should make sure to find somewhere to stay as soon as possible – although this dig will be at the beginning of the tourist season in the Berkshires, accommodations will fill up quickly.

The following is a brief selection of BnBs and hotels, however if none of these suit your tastes or budget, please feel free to book wherever you will be most comfortable. Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) is also a good place to look as there are many offered in the area.

Inn at Shaker Mill Farm

Shaker Mill Inn

Hitchcock House B&B

Shaker Meadows B&B

Red Lion Inn

Best Western Berkshire Hills Inn & Suites

Crowne Plaza Pittsfield

Hilton Garden Inn Lenox-Pittsfield (Please use Darrow corporate id #3066222 for a 20% discount)

Hotel on North

Campgrounds

Cherry Plain State Park (also has cottages and cabins)

Woodland Hills

Can I come and visit even if I'm not digging?

Anyone can come and visit! If you’ve supported the dig and give us a heads up, we might even be able to squeeze you onto one of our VIP tours.

What if I have done archaeology before, or am an archaeology student?

We are the only field school officially accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists in the UK.

We also offer a special discount rate for students – just look for the ‘Student’ benefit level.

Is there anything else I should know?

If you’re digging with us, we’ll send you more specific joining instructions closer to the time.

If you have any other questions in the meantime, get in touch! You can reach us on hello@digventures.com, or 0333 011 3990

What if I've booked to come, but can't make it in the end?

We can either transfer your dig days to another excavation, or you can bequeath them to someone else… go on, pass on the archaeology love!

What if the weather is terrible?

Archaeology isn’t only outdoors! If the weather’s truly terrible, we can head to the archaeology lab to work on the finds… cleaning, examining and identifying the things we’ve found so far.

Who else is supporting you?

This dig is entirely supported by crowdfunding, with some love from Darrow School thrown in too!

How else can I help?

Crowdfunding isn’t the only way you can help. Even just sharing our campaign on social media could introduce us to someone else who wants to support the dig!

Digital Venturer

Join our online community and watch the dig unfold online. You’ll get videos from our archaeologists, virtual artefacts that you can examine, and updates from the lab after the dig has finished.

£10 / $13
Your Name In Lights

Upgrade your support for a credit in the official Site Report. It’s a bit like getting your name inscribed in a medieval manuscript, but better!

+ Digital Venturer

£25 / $33
Team T-Shirt

It’s Ritual. Pardon My Trench. We Don’t Dig Mondays… Our famous archaeology team t-shirts are well known for making a statement! We’ll send you our latest design, as worn by our team – don’t worry, we’ll keep it clean while we’re on site getting dirty!

Estimated delivery: Order by midnight 14th Dec to receive before the holidays
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights

£50 / $66
Chocolate Artefact

A priceless artefact that you can EAT? Yes, we’ll send you a full-size chocolate cast of our most iconic discovery yet – an intricately carved Anglo-Saxon namestone. It’s so good you’ll have a tough time deciding whether to eat it, or exhibit it.

Estimated delivery: Order by midnight 14th Dec to receive before the holidays
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights

£75 / $100
Archaeology Jewellery

Probably our most exciting reward yet! This playful necklace is hung with six iconic artefacts, each representing a different era. Handmade exclusively for our crowdfunders by British jeweller Tatty Devine, you can be sure this is one piece that will NEVER go out of fashion. You can also buy the charms individually in our shop – the perfect reward for supporting archaeology in style!

Estimated delivery: Order by midnight 14th Dec to receive before the holidays
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights

£125 / $166
Dig For A Day

Make your dream of being an archaeologist come true and spend a day digging alongside our team! Grab a trowel, try something new, and make a REAL archaeological discovery on the dig. No experience needed – we’ll teach you everything you need to know.

Dates: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£165 / $219
Dig For Two Days

Join the team for two days on site and you’ll get plenty of trowel time, plus a chance to try out some extra archaeological skills, like how to provide the aftercare for your discoveries. If there’s a better way to unwind after a hard week at the office, we’ll eat our hats.

Dates: Start on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday for a Dirty Weekend!
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£325 / $432
Friends With Benefits

Dig For Two Days, bring a friend and get a 20% discount. Because with two of you in the trenches, digging will be twice as much fun!

Dates: Start on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday for a Dirty Weekend!
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£520 / $691
Dig For A Week

Now you’re getting some proper archaeology action! Come for a week and get trained up as an archaeologist. You’ll be in the trench from Day One and learn a bunch of extra skills, like how to locate archaeology, analyse what you find, and provide the aftercare for your discoveries. Who knows what you’ll discover?

Dates: Start on Tuesday 22nd May or Tuesday 29th May 2018
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£625 / $831
Dig For A Week - Students!

Archaeology student wanting to top up your field skills? DigVentures is the UK’s only CIfA-accredited field school, and a week digging alongside our team will give you the chance to use some of the most cutting-edge field techniques. We’re even happy to give you a skills assessment and targeted training. We will require email confirmation of enrollment status from your tutor.

Dates: Start on Tuesday 22nd May or Tuesday 29th May 2018
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£420 / $558
Dig For Two Weeks

Spend two weeks doing archaeology with our team, digging, learning a bunch of extra skills and putting it all into practice so that you can walk away with the confidence to use them – wherever archaeology takes you next. Seasoned pros would trade their favourite trowel for an opportunity like this!

Dates: Start on Tuesday 22nd May 2018
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£1200 / $1595
Don't Dig For A Day - Finds Lab!

You don’t have to dig to do archaeology! Come and spend a fascinating day in our warm and cosy Finds Lab, helping us to clean, sort and identify all the artefacts that come out of the ground.

Dates: Tuesday 29th or Thursday 31st May, Saturday 1st or Sunday 2nd June 2018
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£125 / $166
Don't Dig For Two Days - Finds Lab!

Two days in the Finds Lab means you get to handle twice as many finds, and have double the fun! We’ll have you knowing your bones, ceramics and any other material that comes out of the ground.

Dates: start on Tuesday 29th or Thursday 31st May, or Saturday 1st June 2018
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£245 / $326
Don't Dig For A Week - Finds Lab!

A week in the Finds Lab and you’ll be up there with the likes of Helen Geake! As well as learning to carefully clean, sort, and identify the finds, you’ll make headway into what archaeologists do with them next.

Dates: Start on Tuesday 29th May 2018
+ Digital Venturer + Your Name In Lights + Team T-Shirt

£475 / $631

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