Community Archaeology Forum cba logo
Community Archaeology cba logo
The CBA's Community Archaeology Resource
Xcavate!/Maiden Newton Community Dig

Hi, my name is Chris and I have been an archaeologist for 17 years and a community archaeologist for 5.

My background:
BA in Archaeology (Inst. of Arch. UCL) 1986-1989
MA Heritage Management (ditto) 2000-2002

Pre-Construct Archaeology
Museum of London
Passmore Edwards Museum

I have dug mainly in the south east and London since 1990 due to family commitments (two sons 25 and 28) but I am now relocating to Dorset where I hope to continue working with local people.

I work under the title Xcavate! which is a simulated excavation project for Key Stage Two pupils. This involves the use of four 1m square boxes filled with sand or compost and the kids have to dig for artefacts (loaned from LAARC). They have question sheets to fill out which help them to interpret the finds as well as drawing and recording sheets. After the digging they discuss what they have found and what each teams interpretation is of the 'trench' they have been working on. The second stage can be varied and includes pot washing, mosaic making, model making and map work (finding sites in the local area using grid references).

Here is a list of projects I have worked on with Xcavate!:

Hackney Building Exploratory (schools)
Lewisham Cultural Services (schools)
'The Dig’ (Museum of London) (families & schools)
Museum in Docklands (families)
Lauriston Primary School - Creative Partnerships (DCMS/Arts Council)
AmTec Co-op Ltd. (families & schools)
Time Team 'The Big Dig'
Dorset County Council

I hope to set up a page relating to Xcavate! and add some pictures along with more details of the projects I have worked on (and future ones I hope!). Hope you find it interesting and informative.

I would like to say that I hope this initiative is used by all archaeologists working in the community to exchange information on projects and to help each other. Community archaeology is the future of the past (ouch) and we need all the help we can get to involve more people in their heritage. You are not alone!

If anyone wants to have a chat my mobile is 0776 869 5162 or just leave a message on this site.


Having now settled in Dorset I am busy making contacts with various people in the heritage 'industry' in the area. This has been very encouraging and I am booked with Dorset CC to present a workshop at the Roman Town House in Dorchester for NAW in July. I am going to a meeting in April to discuss ideas. Also the local ANOB are working hard to develop projects around the archaeology of the South Dorset ridgeway. But at the moment it is back to digging...

Hope to have more information on community archaeology projects coming up in Dorset and the South West soon.


The meeting with DCC concerned the Roman Town House in Dorchester which was dug in 1938-9 by Mortimer Wheeler and others.
The meeting was attended by Dorset County Museum, Dorset AONB, Dorset Schools Library, Blue Badge Guides and DCC Heritage Officers as well as interested individuals.
The site is to undergo extensive renovation and interpretation development which will enhance the potential for educational and tourist use. Conservation is, of course, a vital issue when planning greater public access.
Events are also planned to highlight the site for the public, both local, national and international. The Dorset County Museum is a vital partner in this process so as to link the site to the artefacts deposited there. A funding application is going through and with a successful bid contemplated it is hoped that this site will take on a new lease of life for the benefit of the people of Dorset and the town of Dorchester.


A meeting with the Director of the Dorset County Museum involved the possiblity of organising a community excavation in the village of Maiden Newton. The original site of the village may be located very near the church of St Mary where 'lumps and bumps' are clearly visible. This area may have been abandoned at the time of the Black Death, the present village having been established a little further along the River Frome. I was asked to find out who owns the land and, if they are willing to allow a community project to take place, to cost it and the museum would organise funding.
This is, potentially, a very exciting project not only for the villagers but the people of Dorset as a whole. An original piece of research to establish the origins of one of the largest and most important villages in the county. If all goes well I am sure that a detailed and informative project page will be set up for CAF users to view. Watch this space!


Contact with the landowner and the tenant of the possible original village of Maiden Newton has been positive and it is looking good that they will allow a community dig to go ahead!


Well, bad news on the Maiden Newton project. The landowner has refused permission to dig due to legal problems between them and the tenant. But I will be putting another idea to the County Museum soon and hope to have news on that soon.
I am going to concentrate on starting Xcavate! workshops in Dorset now that my house renovation is nearing completion and more news on that as well in the near future.


A new project at Wynford Eagle. Lord Wynford has given permission for a community dig on his land. Recruiting members for the dig now for the project to happen summer 2009.


There are no comments on this page. [Add comment]

valid xhtml 1.0 Transitionalvalid xhtml 1.0 Transitional
CBA, St Mary's House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ.
tel: +(44) (0)1904 671417 | fax: +(44) (0)1904 671384 | email:
valid cssvalid css