Lindisfarne

11th - 26th July 2017

DigVentures is returning for a second crowdfunded excavation at Lindisfarne. Join in to continue the search for the heart of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria

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Lindisfarne is renowned for being the site of a major Anglo-Saxon monastery founded by King Oswald in AD635. Abandoned after a series of Viking attacks, its exact location was lost for well over 1,000 years… until 2016, when hundreds of crowdfunders helped us find tantalising new evidence of its whereabouts.

And there’s still plenty more to find. We’re bringing a team back to the island for a second round of excavation in July 2017, and YOU can be part of it!

The Anglo-Saxon monastery on Lindisfarne is one of the most iconic sites in early Medieval history. Founded by King Oswald in AD 635, it quickly grew to become the golden heart of the 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 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?

That’s because, in AD 793, the Vikings landed and launched one of their first major raids on the British Isles, right here on Lindisfarne. With their monastery sacked, treasures looted and brothers left for dead, the monks eventually abandoned Lindisfarne and fled to the mainlaind. Religious life didn’t come back to the island for another 300 years. When it did, the returning monks built a brand new priory whose iconic ruins still dominate the island today. But, where is the original monastery, and is any of it left?

Help us continue the search by choosing one of the campaign benefits below: there’s something for everyone, from t-shirts to medieval maps and our brand-new chocolate NomNomNomstone – and of course joining the dig team.

See you this summer!

Lindisfarne’s early monastery was at the heart of 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. Finding any evidence of the earliest monastic community on Lindisfarne will offer huge insight into the lives of those who masterminded its golden age, and who endured the Viking attacks.

Although there have been previous excavations on Lindsfarne, most of the evidence collected has been from other time periods, or from the periphery of where the early monastery is likely to have been located. The most common artefacts from the period of the monastery that had been found thus far are stone carvings, scattered around the island.

That was until 2016, when a marvelous set of geophysics, provided by Dr David Petts at Durham University, pinpointed two locations as likely to be structural remains from Oswald and Aidan’s monastery. With help from hundreds of crowdfunders, DigVentures started digging, and began the first full-blown search for the monastery.

We found an Anglo-Saxon namestone inscribed with a previously unknown name, the outline of several early medieval buildings, the first evidence for a cemetery associated with the monastery, including two stone-lined burials, 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.

The discoveries our crowdfunders made last year were 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!

As amazing as all these discoveries are, they are just the beginning. We know without a shadow of a doubt that there’s plenty more waiting to be found, all of which will add to our understanding of a transformative moment in history. And that’s why this dig matters!

In July 2017, we’re heading back to Lindisfarne to continue the search for King Oswald’s monastery. The excavation is set to take place over two and a half weeks including:

  • Tuesday 11th – Sunday 16th July
  • Tuesday 18th – Sunday 23rd July
  • Tuesday 25th – Wednesday 26th July

UPDATE: our dig places have all been snapped up, but don’t let that stop you getting involved! We’re still looking for Digital Diggers to join the team!

Our initial results from 2016 show that we’re hot on the trail of the early monastery, and that our team has already found evidence definitely related to structures and possibly an Anglo-Saxon cemetery. This year we’ll have bigger, more challenging archaeological questions to answer. As a crowdfunder, you’ll be with right there with us at the very heart of the action helping us to:

  • Investigate the burials we found.  One of our main aims will be to find out if they were part of a more extensive cemetery that belonged to the original Anglo-Saxon monastery
  • Look for evidence of life after the Viking attack. We want to assess the real impact of the raids on the island’s population
  • See if we can find traces of more buildings. Mapping out the monastery’s layout will be a huge achievement – what we found so far was just a little corner of it

We’re also on a mission to change the way archaeology is done. DigVentures believes that archaeologists can carry out internationally important research while bringing as many people on this journey with us as possible, and making the thrill of discovery available to everyone. To carry out our excavation, analyse everything we find, and make the results available online, we’re aiming to raise £25,000. That’s what we need in order to:

  • Plan the dig. There are some (fairly complicated) logistics involved!
  • Pay for all the ‘aftercare’. Excavation is just the tip of the iceberg… it’s what happens next that is actually the most time-consuming and expensive part of any archaeological research project! Once the dig has finished, we need specialists to analyse, conserve and take care of all the artefacts in the lab
  • Hire enough archaeologists to make this a public dig that’s fun to join in with. With more than the usual number of archaeologists on site, there’ll be enough expertise to go round and make sure everyone has a truly insightful archaeological experience
  • Hire an aerial archaeologist. We want to carry out an aerial survey to help us locate more features and buildings, but we need someone with a pilot’s license!
  • Make sure that everything you find also exists online. We think all of our data should be free and easy to access
  • Keep you all up to date 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

As a crowdfunder, you’ll be right at the very heart of the action, either online, or in the field.

By becoming a Digital Digger, you can support great archaeology from a distance. We’ll send you interactive virtual artefacts to examine, share daily video updates with you, and provide plenty of opportunity to talk directly to our team while we’re digging. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes view of archaeology at its best, and it will feel like you’re right there in the trenches with us!

You can also top up your contribution and get even more awesome rewards, like one of our team t-shirts, or an authentic chocolate replica of our famous Anglo-Saxon namestone!

Or… you can become a Field Venturer and grab the opportunity to actually come and dig with us! Depending on how big an archaeological adventure you want to have, you can come for a day, a weekend, a week or even make a proper two-week holiday out of it. However long you choose, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to dig and discover alongside our professional archaeologists.

Every single contribution goes straight to the archaeology – so you’ll be helping to unearth a piece of history that has been missing for over 1,000 years.

 

Which dig days are still available?

All of our dig places have already been snapped up… but don’t let that stop you getting involved! We’re still looking for a bunch of Digital Diggers to join the team… we’ve got loads of post-excavation analysis to do, and it’s backers like you that will help us get all the radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis done.

Plus, we have some equally iconic excavations coming up this year too… Check out our Dig Calendar!

When does the dig take place, and which days can I join?

The excavation on Lindisfarne is set to begin on Tuesday 11th July 2017. From then, we’ll have two and a half weeks, until Wednesday 26th July, to uncover and record as much new evidence as we can. There’s just two things to note: we don’t dig Mondays, and we only have a few dig places left.

Please check the FAQ above for availability, or join us as a Digital Digger and support us by choosing some of our totally awesome rewards – including:

  • Archaeology Team T-Shirt
  • Chocolate Namestone
  • Back On The Map
Do you have any advice on accommodation in the area?

Holy Island is a very popular tourist destination and in the summer months, hotels and guest houses book up extremely quickly. We recommend that you book your accommodation for the dig as soon as possible.

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/

Do I need to have done any archaeology before?

Absolutely not! All you need is an adventurous spirit and a willingness to learn – we’ll provide everything else you need to dig alongside us in the trenches.

What about food, accommodation and transport?

If you’re coming to dig with us, you should recieve a downloadable Info Pack at the point of booking, with everything you need to know about joining the dig, including some hot tips on where to stay – from the best B&B, to the nearest campsite. But, just like when you buy a theatre ticket, these are all things you will still need to book and arrange yourself.

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

Of course you can! If you happen to be in Northumberland this summer, please do stop by for a visit. It truly is a beautiful place, and we’d love to see you and show you what we’ve found! And do let us know you’re coming…

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

We run the only field school officially accredited by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists in the UK. We even have Dr David Petts from the University of Durham on board (he’s one of the world’s leading experts in early Medieval archaeology and the development of Christianity).

What happens once I make my contribution?

We’ll send you a confirmation email straight away. We’ll then add you to our VIP Lindisfarne crowdfunders list so that you get special updates as the campaign progresses.

If you’re coming to dig with us, you’ll need to email us your preferred dig days as soon as you can.

When will I get my goodies?

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

You’ll get your real-life goodies (like chocolate artefacts and t-shirts) once we’ve finished digging and had a chance to wash our boots!

Is there anything else I should know?

Yes, Lindisfarne is a tidal island and is connected to the mainland by a causeway that you can only cross at certain times of day. Rest assured, you’ll get more info about this in your Info Pack. It all just adds to the sense of adventure, right?!

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 terrible (or even if you’re just feeling a bit under the weather), we can head to the archaeology lab to work on the finds… cleaning, examining and identifying the things we’ve found so far. But if the worst comes to the worst, we’ll do our best to move you onto another dig day.

Who else is supporting you?

This dig has also received plenty of support from Sir Tony Robinson, Durham University, Durham Cathedral, Heritage Lottery Fund, Holy Island Parish Council, The Lindisfarne Reading Room, and Pilgrim’s Cafe.

How else can I help?

Crowdfunding isn’t the only way you can help! The goodwill of our community is just as important – yes, really! You can be a huge help by spreading the word among friends, family and interest groups, and by sharing our campaign and updates on social media too!

If you happen to be in Northumberland this summer, come and stop by for a visit. It truly is a beautiful place, and even if you can’t come digging, we’d love to see you and show you what we’ve found!

104.2% Funded
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£26,040.04 Pledged

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