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The Durotriges Big Dig

The Durotriges Project is an archaeological investigation studying the transition from the late Iron Age to the early Roman period in southern England. The fieldwork takes place within Dorset, a county of outstanding natural beauty and one of the best preserved archaeological landscapes in Britain. The project is run as a Bournemouth University summer field school by current students and experienced archaeologists.

Archaeological background

The invasion of southern Britain by Rome is usually treated as if it was a single, dramatic event, with the Roman legions fighting a lengthy and bitter war of conquest. But was it really like this? The Durotriges Project is reconsidering the Iron Age to Roman transition through a detailed programme of field survey, geophysical investigation and targeted excavation. In the summer of 2009 excavation commenced (continuing in 2010 through to 2016), with the discovery of an enclosed late Iron Age 'banjo' settlement containing round houses, work surfaces, storage pits and the footings of a Roman masonry building.

If you've applied for one of our undergraduate or postgraduate degrees or simply have an interest and want to get involved, why not come and join our 'Big Dig' excavation?

Read more about the 2015 dig that uncovered the prehistoric town, the 2016 dig during which we found a late Iron Age cemetery and a late or post Roman farming settlement, consisting of five buildings and associated kilns and ovens, dating to the period AD 300–450, and the 2017 excavation which told us more about every day life.

Please note: You must be aged 16 or over to take part.

Key information

Next start date:

June/July 2018 (dates tbc)


Winterborne Kingston, Dorset


26 days

Entry requirements:

No formal qualifications are required to attend the field school, which has been designed for students and participants (aged 16 years or over) who wish to gain experience in archaeological field practice.

Course details

Work on site will take place daily between 9am - 5pm, five days each week (excluding Saturday and Sunday).

We would recommend that you attend for a minimum of two weeks to expect to undertake some or all of the following activities:

  • Site preparation, top-soil sampling, and trench excavation
  • Stratigraphic excavation of deposits and features
  • Context and feature recording (including written and photographic descriptions)
  • Sampling for environmental materials and specimens for scientific testing
  • Illustration: production of measured plans and sections
  • Sieving and sorting of soil samples to extract environmental materials and artefacts
  • Finds processing: cleaning, marking, logging, documenting and packaging different materials
  • Topographic survey for the collection and mapping of spatial data (total station; GPS etc.)
  • Geophysical survey for detecting and mapping below-ground features (resistivity and magnetometry


We are not able to provide accommodation for the dig, but we can give you a list of accommodation available in the area. Please mention this when you contact us and we can arrange to send it to you.


Daily transport from Bournemouth University to the site is available, if required.

Equipment etc

Full details of what you need to bring and a suggested reading list will be provided when your booking has been confirmed. However, you may want to start thinking about the following:

  • You will need to dress appropriately for excavation in the UK. Bring 'stout' (i.e. walking boots/steel-toe capped work boots) footwear (not sandals/trainers/flip flops etc.)
  • You will need to bring hats, sun cream and rain wear and don't forget food (packed lunches) and (importantly) an adequate supply of water (there is a water supply on site but in order to stave off potential dehydration your own supply is imperative)
  • Also to allow you to do magnetometry, pack some shorts or tracksuit type trousers and T-shirt which do not have ferrous buckles or the like on, and some sneakers or trainers without steel eyelets - most metal fittings on clothing are alloys and not a problem - you can test them with a small magnet. Don't worry if this is a problem as we can kit you out
  • Ensure you have up to date tetanus protection
  • If you have your own trowel, please bring it along.

How to apply

Booking for this incredible experience will be open soon.

Please note you must be aged 16 or over to take part. We recommend that you book for at least two weeks to get the best experience of the Big Dig.

Dorset residents, BU staff, current BU students and BU alumni are elgible for a discounted rate for the dig. If you think you qualify for this rate before purchasing any tickets, please email Faculty of Science and Technology short courses for details of how to obtain this discount.

If you prefer to pay by cheque please email us and we will send you a booking form for you to complete and return with the cheque.

Any questions?

Please contact askBU enquiry service or call us on 01202 961916.

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