Dig the Anglo-Saxons on Lindisfarne

September 2019

Join our search for the Anglo-Saxon monastery famously raided by the Vikings in AD 793.

137.7% Funded
/
£34,415.00 Pledged
/
£25,000 Goal
137.7%

Lindisfarne is one of England’s most iconic Anglo-Saxon sites. Lost to history for over 1,000 years after being raided by the Vikings, we’ve now located some of its remains. You can help us gather the evidence and piece it back together.

Sitting on a small tidal island opposite the famous Bamburgh Castle, King Oswald chose Lindisfarne as the place to establish a monastery in AD 635. But it was no ordinary monastery: it quickly grew to become the golden heart of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

Made famous by chroniclers like Bede and Alcuin (and more recently by the popular TV show Vikings), it’s where the Lindisfarne Gospels were illustrated, where the treasures that adorned the altars of early Medieval Europe were forged, and where thousands of miracle-seeking pilgrims came to seek healing. Lindisfarne’s power and influence reached deep into the heart of continental Europe, and was described by Alcuin as ‘the most venerable place in Britain’.

But archaeologists still have some very big questions to answer: where exactly was it, and does any evidence still survive?

DigVentures is searching for Lindisfarne's earliest monastery
So far, we've found Anglo-Saxon namestones
... ovens and buildings ...
... and several 8th century burials
Phil Harding has even been to inspect the trenches!
Join us online, or on site!

Over the last three years, hundreds of crowdfunders have helped us find some tantalising evidence, including ovens, buildings, Anglo-Saxon sculptures and several early Christian burials.

It’s clear that we’ve now located a significant part of this missing monastery, and it’s time to dig deep and investigate in detail.

Support this dig and you can excavate alongside our team, join us in the Finds Lab, or follow our progress online as we uncover one of England’s most iconic Anglo-Saxon sites and piece its story back together.

Lindisfarne’s early monastery sat right at the heart of Northumbria’s Anglo-Saxon power and politics. It was a major population centre, a hub of cultural influence, and a place of fusion between the Roman and Irish religious worlds.

Now that we’ve located a significant part of the site, we need to recover and record its remains. A lot of evidence survives, and by supporting this dig, you can help us begin the delicate process of recovering it.

The archaeology we’re poised to unearth in 2018 has the potential to offer huge insight into the lives of those who lived through Lindisfarne’s golden age, endured the Viking attacks and witnessed this transformative period in English history.

Some of the discoveries our crowdfunders made are so significant that they featured in the Guardian, The Times, The Daily Mail and on BBC4’s Digging For Britain programme – this was the very first time any crowdfunded discovery had been featured on the show. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

We found several Anglo-Saxon burials, a namestone, a monumental wall, the outline of several early medieval buildings, plenty of pottery, and a silver coin minted during the reign of King Eadberht, as well as some curious bone artefacts which seem to be proof that some people continued to live on the island long after the monastery was supposedly abandoned.

Lindisfarne is one of the most iconic sites in England’s Anglo-Saxon history. Having been missing for over 1,000 years, we’ve now located a significant part of it.

Only a full-blown excavation can now uncover the rest of it, and put this iconic site back on the map.

 

In September 2019, we’ll continue the search for King Oswald’s monastery. The excavation is set to take place over two weeks, from Tuesday 3rd – Sunday 15th September.

Now that we’ve located a significant part of the monastery, our plan is to use this time to:

  • Continue excavating the ovens and buildings, to see if we can find out what they were for. Mapping out the monastery’s layout will be a huge achievement.
  • Dig deeper into the past. So far, everything we’ve found has been dated to the 8th-10th centuries. But the more we dig, the further we head back into the past…
  • Investigate the burials we found. We’ve already revealed that buildings and burials are intermingled, and unpicking them will help us learn more about the people who lived and died during Lindisfarne’s heyday
  • Look for evidence of life after the Viking attack. We want to assess the real impact of the raids on the island’s population

We’re also changing the way archaeology is done, sharing the results and discoveries so that you can watch as we make them.

We need to raise £25,000 to carry out our excavation, analyse everything we find, and make the results available online. By supporting the dig, you will be helping us 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 conserve and take care of all the artefacts we find – especially any burials and human remains
  • Analyse all the finds. We’ll also need specialists to analyse and interpret everything we find, including any burials, animal remains, ceramics, metal artefacts and environmental samples
  • 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 follow the whole process from start to finish
  • 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.

Support this dig and have a role in some great archaeology!

Where is it?

Our excavation area is located on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, in front of the priory.

This year, Dig HQ will be the Crossman Hall, in the centre of Holy Island Village.

What are the daily start and finish times?

Our dig days usually run from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, BUT Lindisfarne is not one of our usual digs!

Lindisfarne is a tidal island, and it is only safe to travel to and from the mainland at certain times of day. This means that our days will be governed by the tide (how romantic!).

You can check the tide timetables for September 2019 here.

We will flex our start and finish times each day to allow plenty of time for people to travel to and from the mainland.

We’ll publish our daily schedule closer to the time, but you can assume that the earliest we’ll ever start is 8:30am, and that on days with a late morning tide we’ll always allow at least 25 minutes from when the causeway opens to when we begin the day.

What do I need to know about joining the dig team?

Our dig experiences include all the tools, training and one-to-one instruction you will need in order to learn and have a great time whilst you are on site with our team.

We’ve got tea breaks covered, however you will need to bring your own lunch and plenty of water.

Food, travel and accommodation are not included, however there is a list of links and helpful information provided below.

If you want to start planning your journey, check the rest of the FAQs for information about location, start times, food and accommodation.

What do I need to know about joining the Finds Room team?

Our finds experiences include all the tools, training and one-to-one instruction you will need in order to learn and have a great time whilst you are on site with our team.

We’ve got tea breaks covered (one of the joys of being in the Finds Room is having as much tea as you like, whenever you like!), but you will need to bring your own lunch and plenty of water.

Food, travel and accommodation are not included, however there is a list of links and helpful information provided below.

If you want to start planning your journey, check the rest of the FAQs for information about location, start times, food and accommodation.

What happens once I make my contribution?

If you’re choosing a Dig or Finds Room experience, you’ll be asked to select your t-shirt size, and start date at checkout (apart from ‘Dig for two weeks’, ‘Finds for a week’, or DigCamp, which have set start dates).

After that, you’ll receive a payment confirmation with the details you gave us.

You’ll also get a follow-up email asking for a bit more information we need to register you as part of the team. Please make sure you reply as soon as possible!

We’ll then send you an email reminder two weeks before the dig, with info about how to watch the dig online, and any final details about exactly where and when to meet us.

What happens if we don't reach our crowdfunding goal?

We’ve set our crowdfunding goal to match the level of excavation and analysis we think this site deserves. Obviously, the closer we get the better, and the more people who join in the more we can discover, but we won’t abandon our plans if we fall shy of the target – this archaeology is too important to miss!

If we don’t reach our goal, we’ll stick to our guns and do the dig anyway – we’ll just scale down the size of the excavation to suite.

For example, we’d excavate a smaller area and send fewer artefacts off for scientific analysis, but the dig would still happen and you’d still be part of our team.

That being said, we’re confident we’ll reach our goal because we know there’s incredible archaeology waiting to be found and people like YOU are willing to help us prove it!

When will I get my t-shirt?

If you’re joining us on site, you’ll receive your t-shirt when you arrive.

If you’re not joining us on site, we’ll send it to you at the end of dig season (usually October).

When will I get my digital goodies?

You’ll start getting all your digital goodies (like videos updates and virtual artefacts) when the dig begins.

Once the dig is over, it takes us about 12-18 months to analyse the finds and write up the official report. We’ll keep you updated with any significant developments from the lab during this time. It will be well worth the wait!

And what about DigNation Beta…?

We’ll email you whenever there’s an upcoming talk for you to watch online, and send you more details about the one day conference we’re planning in September closer to the time!

Is accommodation included? Where can I stay?

A quick search online will reveal that there’s plenty to choose from, from holiday parks and self-catering cottages, to B&Bs and hotels – something to suite every budget!

It’s important to note that Lindisfarne is a very popular tourist destination and accommodation gets booked up extremely quickly.

If you’re coming to dig with us, we recommend that you book your accommodation for the dig as soon as possible. Here’s a few suggestions:

Hotels, Guest Houses and B&Bs

There are many places to rent a room on Holy Island. A good place to start looking for a place to stay is: https://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/accommodation.htm

On the mainland there are many places to choose from. The closest accommodation to the island is the Lindisfarne Inn: http://www.lindisfarneinn.co.uk, but a simple online search will turn up many options in the area.

Camping

There is strictly no camping allowed on Lindisfarne, but there are some great camp sites nearby on the mainland.

Some of the DigVentures team will be at the Barn at Beal: http://barnatbeal.com/camping/ .

We also recommend Budle Bay Campsite: http://www.budlebaycampsite.co.uk/

What about food and transport?

You’ll need to make sure that you can get to Lindisfarne for a morning start – remember to check the tide tables!

If you want to make shared travel plans with other Venturers, please note we will be emailing all our crowdfunders a link to our Facebook chat group, where you can make shared travel and accommodation plans together if you wish.

We will be flexing the start / finish times for each day around the tides, so don’t worry that you’ll be missing anything. If you’re staying off-island, you won’t be the only one!

And remember you’ll need to bring your own lunches, or cash to buy some from a local cafe.

Can I come and visit even if I'm not on the dig or finds team?

ABSOLUTELY! We invite all our crowdfunders (and anyone else who is interested) to come and visit. Bring friends, bring family, and make a day out of it!

You’ll be able to come and talk to us in the trenches,and visit the Finds Room in the second week of the dig to see our discoveries.

If you’ve crowdfunded the dig, we’ll also let you know about any special events we put on closer to the time.

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

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

What if the weather is terrible?

If we could control the weather, we’d make it… temperate! Our ideal conditions are overcast (for taking photos), and drizzly (for keeping the ground soft). Sometimes, we also like a bit of sun (for good morale!)

If the weather’s truly terrible, or obscenely hot, then remember this: archaeology isn’t only outdoors! We can always head indoors to the Finds Room to work on the artefacts… cleaning, examining and identifying the things we’ve found so far.

Is there anything else I should know?

These FAQs should cover everything you need to know for planning your journey.

We’ll send you more specific joining instructions, with additional details about exactly where and when to meet us on Holy Island, two weeks before the dig begins.

Who else is supporting you?

This dig has also received plenty of support-in-kind from Durham University.

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.

Go on… tell your friends, tell your family, tell any archaeology-lovers you know and help us spread the word!

Sign up to DigMail

No nonsense. Just dig alerts and the insider's view on the week's biggest archaeological discoveries.

Easy opt-out at any time - Privacy Policy

Archaeology / In Your Hands
CLOSE