For those of you who don,t know about DigVentures, it is a platform that enables civic participation in archaeology and heritage projects.
‘We have pioneered the use of crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and digital methods to increase access and opportunities for real people to purposefully participate in real research. DV is a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Registered Organisation, and the first-ever CIfA Accredited Fieldschool.’
DigVentures was started in 2012 by two archaeologists and a dog. In 2012, our small but mighty team launched the world’s first-ever crowdfunded and crowdsourced archaeological excavation at Flag Fen, a Bronze Age wetlands site and Scheduled Ancient Monument near Peterborough, UK. It was a huge success, raising a worldwide community of over 250 citizen archaeologists and £32,000 to run an internationally-important collaborative archaeological research project.
Since then, we have run over 40 projects and grown our community year upon year, proving time and again that YOU – the crowd – are at the heart of what we do.
DigVentures is a constant experiment in finding new and better ways of connecting the public with archaeology. In 2018, we hosted the DigNation festival, sharing a livestream from Lindisfarne to the world; we’ve built Digital Dig Team, the world’s first live, open-access mobile digital archaeological recording system, enabling us to share our research from the trenches in real time; we’ve launched How to Do Archaeology, an online course to help people all over the world who want to learn how to dig; and our social media channels are always ablaze with news of what we’re up to.
The wild ride we started in 2012 is picking up pace as our new model of working with the public becomes more and more popular within archaeology and beyond. We’ve got new projects and strategic partnerships developing in the UK, Europe, and the United States, and plenty more tricks up our sleeve to keep surprising, exciting – and most of all, involving – as many people as possible in what we do. Hope to see you on site soon!’
I inadvertently came across a DigVentures advert a few weeks ago, Although following their work for 4 years or so, I missed an initial announcement, so was happy to learn, as mentioned in the above text, they had launched ‘How to Do Archaeology’, an online course to help people all over the world who want to learn how to dig.
Now, unknown to many, I was actually a part of CWP- the Celtic Warrington Project archaeology team in the early Noughties, I was involved in quite a few archaeological projects in Llanarmon Yn Ial and Ruthin in North Wales, as well a dig at Caergwle Castle. I also worked on private residences in Manley and Appleton Thorn in Cheshire. So I have a few hundred hours of trench time under my belt. However, due to time and funds, I have never been in a position to actually partake in any courses to gain any qualifications in Archaeology. I am also a Metal Detectorist and have preached to many about an archaeological course being a must for hobbyist’s to learn and help understand archaeological context while participating. So, being furloughed since mid March, I immediately signed up for the free DigVentures ‘How to do archaeology’ course.
I have completed ‘ free’ courses online in the past, none of which actually offer a recognised accreditation, rather an additional fee for one of their generic certificates. So I looked more into the course and found the accreditation’s offered –
For those using the Archaeology Skills Passport to record learning, this course contributes to a number of Core Skills identified in the Skills Passport. Although hands-on experience is necessary to accomplish most skills, this course provides the perfect introduction to what they entail and will give you a head-start in achieving competency in the following areas:
- Handtools (small): Understand the correct use of the trowel and other smaller hand tools including their safe use and maintenance.
- Handtools (large): Understand the correct and safe use of larger tools as well as appropriate loading for buckets and wheelbarrows.
- Site Formation Processes: Understand the process of site formation, including fills, layers, structures or natural deposits.
- Stratigraphic excavation: Understand the concept of physical and chronological stratigraphy as well as methods of recording the sequences and be able to remove layers and fills in the correct order for structured excavation.
- Context sheet recording: Understand the procedure for the completion of a standard context record sheet [Deposit/Cut/Fill/Structural].
- Site Grid and Trench layout: Appreciate the concept of site/national grid systems and placement of trenches within this, and be able to create a grid system and baseline, that can be used for planning or survey – tied into the National Grid.
- Dumpy level and staff: Understand the concept behind level heights along with the setting out and collection of data for the purpose of survey.
- Planning: Understand the various elements that must be present on a plan, including the use of conventions and how the plan is located.
- Section drawing: Understand the various elements that must be present on a plan, including the use of conventions and how the plan is located.
- Site photography: Have a basic grasp of the fundamental requirements for camera use and the sequenced methodology of photographic recording.
- Collection of samples: Understand the procedure for the collecting of archaeological samples.
- Artefact recovery: Understand the recording, safe excavation and storage of artefacts of various materials and fragility.
- Site Safety: Recognise the various PPE requirements and be able to choose appropriately for various situations, and be aware of the various H&S issues on a fieldwork project, ranging from trench safety, tool safety and general safety of both co-workers and public.
This also offers an idea about the courses content. Over a six week period, i will be studying the online content at my own pace. The information is broke down into 6 manageable sections, each Monday the next weeks work is generated on my DigVentures account and an email prompt is sent.
I completed week one quite quickly, having the time currently to disseminate the information. This weeks topics included why and when do we dig? Project planning and Setting up an archaeological site. After completion a quiz is provided, asking questions included in the first weeks sections. I thoroughly enjoyed week one. The questions added explanations after answering and upon completion, this generated access for week two.
A DigVentures study group has also been created on social media for students like myself to have open discussion and gain assistance from others. A fantastic addition and another valuable tool.
I can not speak highly enough about what DigVentures have offered and hope time and money allows further in depth studying upon completion of this course. I hoped to attend a Lindisfarne dig a few years ago, but again – Life!
I don’t want to go any deeper into the course, as I believe any person interested should participate and learn for themselves. This week I have learnt about all the things I used to do and why, in some cases the correct manner and certainly, after nearly 20 years, updated and safe working procedures. Wherever you see DigVentures mentioned throughout this review, click on it for a direct route to the course.
Thank you DigVentures for providing the course and invoking some passion and bringing up some brilliant memories.