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Excavations to continue at Suffolk’s Leiston Abbey

March 3rd, 2014 | by heritagedaily
Excavations to continue at Suffolk’s Leiston Abbey
Archaeology News
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Situated less than 15 miles from the famous Anglo Saxon-era Sutton Hoo site, Leiston Abbey was virtually untouched and unexcavated during the 800 years since it was founded in the 1300s, until last year when site custodians Pro Corda teamed up with DigVentures to run a community excavation, seeking to understand the unique history of the site.

Over 1,000 people visited and took part during the two-week dig. According to DigVentures Managing Director, Lisa Westcott Wilkins, “We were blown away by the archaeology at Leiston Abbey, as well as by the enthusiastic participation of our crowdfunded and crowdsourced digging team.

We trained 125 people in field skills from 13 different countries, along with many people from the local area. Hundreds of visitors stopped by just for a look. We can’t wait to get started again this year.” Adds Brendon Wilkins, Projects Director of DigVentures,

“The archaeological results from Leiston Abbey are fantastic. We were shocked to discover a previously unknown prehistoric phase of the site, as well as what we think is the lost eastern range of monastic remains. We are really looking forward to building on these discoveries.”

The dig is particularly exciting as members of the general public can participate through crowdfunding the work, which means they not only help to fund it but also take part alongside the professionals. Additionally, DigVentures was just named as the first-ever community-focused Institute for Archaeologists’ Registered Organisation, and are also the first-ever IFA Accredited Field School.

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Credit : DigVentures

Raksha Dave, Field School Manager at Dig Ventures and former Time Team archaeologist, adds “Our Accreditation through the IFA is an integral part of our field school. We want everyone to know that the training they receive on our digs is the highest possible standard, whether they are students, enthusiasts, beginners or more experienced diggers.  Our programme is structured to include something everyone.”

Last year’s excavation at Leiston Abbey was only the second time in the world that a dig has been crowdfunded, and the team are hoping to repeat this success by raising £18,000 seed funding by May 31st in order to ensure that the project goes ahead. There are many different levels of involvement, and for as little as £10, you can be a part of the project through joining the digital dig team and following the project on the DigVentures website, where the team shares news, interviews, lectures and special events live from the dig every day. If you want to dig with the team, options include a one-day dig, weekend, week, or the full two weeks.

The crowdfunding campaign for ‘Saints & Secrets 2’ opens on February 28, 2014, and all places on the field school will be filled through support for the campaign. For more information and to register for the dig, visit www.digventures.com.

Leiston Abbey is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and one of the most important examples of monastic ruins of its type in England. The site is currently in the guardianship of Pro Corda, a registered charity and school devoted to nurturing young musical talent through ensemble and performance training.

Andrew Quartermain, CEO and Artistic Director of Pro Corda, says: “This dig is another important step in our mission to develop Leiston Abbey into an even more vibrant resource for the local area. The history of the abbey is quite unusual, and we look forward to welcoming as many people to the site as we can to enjoy all that it has to offer.”

Pro Corda and DigVentures have also recently formed an official partnership, which will see DigVentures in residence at the Abbey year-round. The Agreement is focused on the key aim to promote awareness of and help secure the legacy of the heritage at Leiston Abbey.

The stunning ruins of medieval Leiston Abbey are set to once again ring to the sounds of music students as well as archaeologists’ trowels and digger machines when DigVentures’ summer excavation gets underway from the 7th – 20th July 2014.

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