Dig Burley

Volunteers excavating a trench. Credit: NFNPA

Can you help reveal the buried secrets of Burley?

Dig Burley is a community archaeology festival taking place in and around Burley during Easter 2019. It is a joint project between the Burley Local History Society, Burley Parish Council and the New Forest National Park.

Dig Burley will take place from Thursday 11th through to Sunday 14th April 2019 and feature talks, workshops and exhibitions. We are also seeking local residents and families who would be happy to open a small archaeological test pit on their property?

So if you live in Burley why not register now to join the fun? If you’re not a Burley resident don’t panic as there will be plenty of opportunities to visit and get involved in the project, also we will be looking for willing communities for future years!

We will keep you updated with developments as we build towards Dig Burley in Easter 2019 and you can join the conversation on social media with #digburley

You can download the poster here or the flyer here

What is a Test Pit?

A Test Pit is a small archaeological excavation, consisting of a square trench measuring 1m by 1m and up to 1m deep that can be dug by hand, by anyone, in an open space in their garden. The Test Pit is dug methodically, i.e. layer by layer, and carefully recorded, with the aim of identifying evidence of past human activity, usually by finding pieces of pottery and other material, or, if you’re lucky, archaeological features such as rubbish pits, building postholes or even wall foundations.

While we can learn a great deal about the history of our towns and villages through study of historical documents and maps, place names, aerial photographs and so on, archaeological excavation is often the best or only way to add to or confirm the results of such research.

The opportunity for large-scale excavation however, particularly within our established settlements, is usually rare and so the excavation of a collection of Test Pits, which can be squeezed in anywhere throughout a village is a good alternative. Test Pits are also a great way of allowing a community, with the help of professional archaeologists, to investigate its past history and learn a bit about how archaeological excavation works.

By collating the results from all the Test Pits the archaeologists will try to establish a general picture of the origins and development of a settlement, and hopefully find out something about the people who lived there.


A guide booklet and the ‘Dig It’ pack will be distributed to all registered participants and volunteers which will explain how to dig and record an archaeological test pit somewhere in your garden. It will include test pit templates,  step by side guide, recording booklets, photo scales and a list of equipment you’ll need.

The “Dig It HQ” (Wathen-Bartlett @ The Burley Club) will be open at all times during the event with support on tap, local displays, maps, communal finds processing space, finds ID tables and importantly a hot cup of tea and a biscuit. Everyone will be encouraged to report back their progress and findings throughout the project so that the project team can let everybody know what else is going on and allow you to watch the story of your village unfold.

For further details, comments and suggestions you can visit the Dig Burley page on the Burley Local History Website: Dig Burley

Or please contact David and Ann Etchells via: davidetchells(at)uk2.net

You can see other projects that are happening in Burley such as the graveyard survey of St John the Baptist here: Revealing the Secrets of Burley Churchyard


Your Comment