Leiston Abbey

Hundreds of crowdfunders helped us investigate the story of (two!) medieval abbeys in coastal Suffolk. Find out what we discovered.

102.9% Funded
£18,530 Pledged
£18,000 Goal

About the Project

Have you always wanted to try archaeology, or just love learning about it? Have you already done a bit of digging, and can’t wait to get back into the trenches?

Would you like to be a part of internationally-important research at a Scheduled Ancient Monument that’s changing the way archaeology is done forever? Now is your chance!

The Leiston Abbey 2015 project is shaping up to be the biggest season yet at this fantastic site. Following on from the tremendous success of last year’s launch of Digital Dig Team, it’s time to take things one step further! This year, there’s even more opportunities to get involved – online or in the field! There is so much work still to be done – we need all the help we can get!

How much do we need to raise?

We need to raise £18,000 – we have so many questions to answer and last year, our post-excavation budget was blown by the discovery of some very special finds which needed a lot of TLC. We’ve got big questions to answer and several targets across the site – the more we raise, the more archaeology we can do!

How do I take part?

You can join the team and support us through buying benefits. The more you contribute, the bigger your reward and the more involved you can become – from being one of the first to hear about our finds, to rolling up your sleeves and joining us in the trenches.

What do I get?

Everyone who supports the project, at any reward level, will get daily digests, an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ log-in to the Digital Dig Team system, and an invitation to join us at Leiston Abbey for the End of Site party! Want more? Pick a benefit level to suit you!

Tell me about the archaeology

DigVentures began work at Leiston Abbey in July 2013. Since then, we’ve had two amazing seasons with our crowdfunded participants, exceeding our fundraising and participation goals to become the first team ever to run a full programme of archaeological excavation on the site. We’ve got it all to play for as we take to the fields in search of Leiston’s lost history. Please join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to investigate a nearly untouched site with a full programme of archaeological fieldwork!

Read more here about Leiston Abbey, click the picture above to see the Digital Dig Team feature in this month’s Current Archaeology, or Learn more about our unique approach to discovering and making history.

Tell me about Digital Dig Team – and how it’s changing the way archaeology is done

Last year, we were thrilled to receive a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop Digital Dig Team – the only app that enables archaeologists to upload their data straight from the trenches and make it instantly available online. Entered straight from the trenches on iPads, tablets and smartphones, archaeological data is instantly accessible, from anywhere in the world, on an open-access project website. We make it possible for the public to participate in archaeological excavation alongside expert archaeologists in the trenches through using the Digital Dig Team online platform. We absolutely could not have done it without our worldwide community, both the passionate armchair archaeologists as well as over 200 Venturers from 13 countries who joined us on site for archaeological field skills training, as well as to take part in our fabulous Archaeological Photography and Medieval Pottery Masterclasses and DVIP lecture series.

Tell me how this is helping Leiston Abbey

As any of our Venturers can tell you, Leiston Abbey is a magical place. One of the most important aspects of working there is the fabulous surroundings; the ruins are not only beautiful, but are also one of the most important and best-preserved examples of a Premonstratensian Abbey in England. The site is managed by Pro Corda, a registered charity and school devoted to nurturing young musical talent through ensemble and performance training. Pro Corda has invited DigVentures to help them understand the heritage of the site and integrate this fantastic resource with the artistic life of the school, ensuring that our team’s work will have a lasting legacy in the future of this fantastic place. Most importantly, we welcomed many local residents and other people to Leiston Abbey who had never previously visited – with over 49% being new audience for the site. What a result! And that’s only the beginning – we’re working with Pro Corda to integrate the heritage offer into the rich musical life of the school, making the site even more accessible to as a resource for the local community.

What’s it like to join the fieldschool?

We’ve had one of the nicest campsites any of us had ever seen, fantastic food, perfect digging weather, and an End of Site Party that went on until the wee hours. Legendary fun! We’ll be working and living amongst the medieval ruins, and having our daily meals catered in the school’s lovely dining room. Amenities such as showers and toilets are available, and there is a fully stocked and staffed bar in the 14th century thatched barn. This is truly top-notch site life! The field school at Leiston Abbey (for those who purchase a benefit at £165 and above) will be very exciting this year. We’ve put a lot of thinking into making this the best experience possible, whether you are digging for a day, a weekend, a week or the whole project. We’ve expanded our team of experts, and there will be dedicated staff providing orientation, training and instruction, as well as evening lectures, fun outings and plenty of time for questions. And some surprises, of course! Places in the field school (from 13th July – 26th July) are limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. We sold out quite quickly last year!


What do I do?

Pick a benefit level, click on the green ‘Support Now’ button in the column at right, and purchase! Tell your friends and everyone you know, and ask them to get involved too. You can also purchase benefits as a gift for someone else: don’t we all know someone who has a bit of a geeky fascination with archaeology? Send them our way! The more people who get involved, the more work we can do.

What happens after I buy a benefit?

You will receive an email from us acknowledging your purchase and welcoming you to the DigVentures team. If you will be digging with us, we will get in touch to book your dates (please note, Monday 20th July is a rest day and there is no digging). 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. If you have purchased a benefit to join us on the dig, we will contact you right away to arrange a date, as places are limited and dates will be available on a first-come, first served basis.

Did you mention a party?

YES! There’s an End of Site party, of course! Every good site has a great party to celebrate the end of a successful season, and we’re no exception. Everyone who funds us will be invited to the DigVentures End of Site Party, where you will see a presentation on the season’s initial results, catch up on project news, mingle with the archaeologists, and get to meet other Venturers. And there’s bound to be some dancing too… *Please note, the End of Site party is scheduled for Saturday evening, 25th July at Leiston Abbey from 7:00pm – 11:00pm. Some camping sites or other accommodation may be available, and there are plenty of B&Bs in the area.

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! FAQs about the field school and what to expect on site!

This dig is appropriate for people of any skill level. Total beginners welcome!

Must be 17 or older, or accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times who is also a registered participant of the dig. Children ages 6 -11 can register for our DigCamp on the 18th and 19th of July, also accompanied by a parent.

Training will be provided in excavation, recording, finds processing, buildings recording, geophysics and more. Evening lecture series included in booking.

Facilities include camping with on site showers, loos and catering. We can accommodate vegetarians, but those with more severe dietary requirements will need to plan ahead and bring appropriate food.

We can accommodate all ranges of physical mobility.

More about our previous work at Leiston Abbey

We’ve captured all of the archaeology and fun on film, so that everyone can be with us every step of the way, even if you couldn’t join us on site. Check out the videos We took hundreds of photos documenting every aspect of the dig. Have a look at our project here The Digital Dig Team press release The Leiston Abbey Archaeological Project Design.</p

Digital Dig Team

The Leiston Abbey dig was part of our Digital Dig Team initiative which crowdfunds and crowdsources new archaeology projects. Digital Dig Team creates greater public access to the rich archaeological heritage at sites like Leiston Abbey.

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