Jane Pit

We're on a mission to help preserve an icon of Cumbria's industrial heritage - Jane Pit.


Thank you so much for supporting the Jane Pit Project. We are thrilled to be working on this exciting project – it’s going to be a fantastic dig, and we can’t wait to meet everyone!

This page contains all the information we can think of to help you plan a visit to the site, whether you are digging with us, coming for a tour, joining one of the activities or just curious about what we are doing at Jane Pit.

DigVentures projects are research excavations, so while we will make sure that being on site with us is fun and exciting, it’s not all tea and biscuits. Fieldwork can be challenging, weather conditions are always variable, and daily work schedules can be busy – but this is all part of the rich tapestry of archaeological fieldwork. We hope the information below will help you be as prepared as possible to have a fantastic time with us at Jane Pit. Our aim is to make this an authentic and unforgettable experience, so be prepared to learn, laugh, work hard and have a great time. See you on site!

I'm digging with you, what do I need to bring?

We will provide all the tools you need including: a trowel, buckets, shovels and sieves. You are welcome to bring your own trowel if you want to, but it’s important you have the right kind. You can find a 4-inch pointing trowel suitable for archaeological fieldwork on the Past Horizons online store (www.pasthorizonstools.com)

It might be handy for you to bring a notepad if you are with us for the whole week so that you can keep a dig diary. This will help you keep track of what you’ve done, and we can make sure that you have a go at all the different aspects of archaeological fieldwork.

Packing list – what you’ll need to bring!

• Weather appropriate clothing – layers are vital, including waterproofs, a warm fleece or jumper, sun cream and sun hat or warm hat, and bug spray.
• Sturdy boots
• Any dietary staples
• Medication (we cannot dispense anything, including paracetamol)
• Bug spray
• Packed lunch
• Bottle of water or soft drink

I'm not digging with you, can I still get involved?

Yes absolutely!

We’ll be running a public programme of events for people who can’t dig with us but still want to learn about the archaeology of Jane Pit, they’re free of charge and open to everyone. There will be evening talks, open days, site tours and a fun day.

You can find out what’s on here.

Where do I need to go? How do I find you?

Excavation site:
Jane Pit (known locally as Annie’s Castle), Workington.

TA Centre, Harrington Road
CA14 3XD

The local Territorial Army in Workington has very kindly allowed us to use their facilities during the excavation. We will meet here in the mornings, and walk the short distance up to site together after morning orientations.

How to get here:

Rail: The nearest train station is Workington, and is approximately a mile away from our DigHQ on Harrington Road. It is about a 15 minute walk.

Road: There are two main A-roads into Workington; the A596 going north and south and the A66 coming from the east. Follow signs for Workington or use postcode CA14 3XD with a satnav. There is plenty of parking on the roads nearby, but it is a residential area so please be sensible and make sure you don’t block access to houses or drives.

What time do I need to arrive?

If you’re digging with us, we will kick off at 09.00am every day. Please be at our DigHQ on time, so that we can run through our orientation and talk through the plan for the day.

It’s really important that you’re on time for this, as there will be important information about the dig, health and safety information and risk assessments that you need to understand. We cannot allow you to dig unless you participate in this session!

We understand that sometimes things delay us that are beyond our control, so if you are running late or can no longer make it, please let us know by calling or sending us a text if it’s safe for you to do so.

People not digging with us who would like to see what we’re up to are welcome to stop by at anytime during our time on site.

How can I contact you if my plans change or I'm running late?

If you need to get in touch with us, please feel free to do so. If you’re running late, please contact us as long as it’s safe and legal for you to use your phone.

You can phone us:
Before the dig: 0333 011 3990
During the dig: 07515 016 296 (Harriet)

You can email us:

Also, tweeting us is a great way to get our attention immediately @thedigventurers

What will the daily schedule be like?

Our normal work day will look something like this:

Time          Activity
09:00 Meeting and Orientation
09:30 Work Begins
11:00 Elevensies
12:00 Lunch
15:30 Tea and Biscuits
17:00 End of work day

What will I be doing?

At DigVentures, we aim to give you an authentic experience of what it’s like to be an archaeologist.

There will, of course, be digging, as well as recording, photogrammetry and finds processing. We cater to as many levels of ability as we possibly can, and if there’s something in particular you would really like to have a go at then just let us know.

In terms of physical activity, archaeological excavation is a lot like gardening, there’s sometimes heavy lifting and a lot of being on your hands and knees! We understand that not everyone is up to this, and there are many other activities for differently-abled people, so please get in touch if you feel that digging might not be appropriate for you.

Are there local amenities?

Workington is a bustling town, and there are plenty of amenities for you to take advantage of nearby. Toilets, cafes, pubs and shops are all within walking distance of the site.

Can I post about the dig on 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:

  • Respect confidentiality if it’s requested – VERY IMPORTANT
  • No profanity at any time
  • No insulting or abusive language about fellow diggers, the public or DigVentures staff
  • Be polite and show respect for your colleagues and readers
  • Ask a DV staffer to review your post before you hit ‘post’ if you have any questions or you’re unsure if it’s appropriate.
What do I say if people ask me questions?

Jane Pit is a well known monument in a very well utilised part of Workington, therefore it’s likely that there will be lots of passers by who will be curious about what we’re doing and why. 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.

What's 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

How will DigVentures ensure I'm safe and happy on site?

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.

Want to know more?

Jane Pit is a 19th century coal mine. The pit opened in 1844 and was worked for a period of around 30 years, finally closing in 1875. The remaining buildings of the engine house are a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

According to several sources, Jane Pit was first operated by a horse gin circle, which was a mechanism powered by horses to wind up coal and pump out water from the pit. It subsequently switched to steam power. It’s rare to see mines with examples of both types of workings, and Jane Pit is a great example of seeing the evolution of horse power to steam power. We will be investigating this further to see if we can find evidence of the horse gin.

We also want to find out more about the life of the miners who lived in Frostrams Cottages and Holyoak Farm nearby. The cottages were demolished sometime in the 1970s, but we know where they used to stand, so we’ll be investigating to determine what evidence was left behind from the same period that Jane Pit was being used.

We will be excavating four trenches across the site on behalf of Workington Town Council as part of the Jane Pit Project.

If you’d like to find out more about the history of Workington, return here: https://digventures.com/jane-pit/

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