Archaeology Live! 2017

The days of archaeology sitting inside a glass cabinet are over! York Archaeological Trust are delighted to invite you to pick up your trowel, join the team and take part in our excavations in the heart of our historic city.

The All Saints, North Street excavations. Image courtesy of David Dodwell

The All Saints, North Street excavations. Image courtesy of David Dodwell

The Archaeology Live! training excavations are an innovative way to get a hands-on experience of the discipline and to receive expert training from full-time professional archaeologists. Created back in 2001, the project was one of the first excavations to be entirely funded by the people who take part and 2017 will mark our seventeenth consecutive season of totally crowdfunded archaeology! Whether you are starting out on a career in archaeology, or just want to experience the excitement of a live  excavation, everyone is welcome to take part!

Our training excavations are open to anyone aged 16 and above (14 if accompanied by a guardian also attending a course) and offers the opportunity to work on complex, deeply stratified archaeology.

When are we digging?

We can now confirm our dates for the summer excavation at All Saints North Street. This is one of several announcements to be made in the next few weeks so keep checking back with us for more! For those wishing to book a course or ask any questions, please email


Summer Excavation 2017 at All Saints, North Street

Monday 26th June – Friday 15th September

The training dig will run from Monday – Friday every week between these dates. Scroll down for more information on what we offer and how to book.

Taster Courses 2017

Monday 10th July – Friday 15th September

One and two day taster courses begin on Tuesdays and Thursdays in each week.

Weekend Excavations 2017

July 8th-9th *Fully booked*

August 26th-27th  *Fully booked*

Post-excavation courses (2017)

December 4th – 8th


The week six team, All Saints 2015

Do I need experience?

None at all! Whether you’re on your first ever dig, or are a seasoned veteran, the Archaeology Live! team can tailor the courses to fit your requirements and level of experience.

Course Information

From a one day taster, to an intensive four week course, there are options to suit everybody. Here’s the info you’ll need:

One week and longer courses

Taster courses

Weekend courses

How do I book?

To book a place, just send an email with your preferred dates and any questions you may have to

One of the team will get right back to you with booking forms and any further information that you require.

What will we find?

This is always the big question, but in the case of all our previous sites, we do know the answer – a lot! Urban archaeology rarely fails to deliver wonderful finds and features, especially in the unparalleled layers beneath the streets of York!

Looking down on the Rectory walls.

Looking down on the Rectory walls, All Saints, 2015.

The archaeological sequence at our recent All Saints, North Street and St. Saviours sites covered a date range of over two millennia. Finds and features from prehistory to the 20th century and everything in between were unearthed.

At All Saints, the story is becoming better understood with each season. Before our excavation began in 2014 there stood a decrepit building which had served as a boxing club, church hall and chapel of rest. Beneath this building we have discovered a small but densely occupied graveyard for local parishioners that was active between 1826 and 1854. While most of the site was being used for burials, the Old Rectory stood at the western end of our trench and, according to what we have unearthed so far, that building may originally date to the 14th century.

Prior to the site’s consecration as a graveyard, a series of 18th century workshops were laid out along the old thoroughfare of Church Lane that housed a variety of trades and industries. Going back into the medieval period we are finding more and more evidence of domestic use of the site with refuse pits and hearth clearances present. By the end of the 2016 season, we had reached deposits dating as far back as the 12th century!


A Viking or medieval spindle whorl made of antler discovered during the 2014 season.

A Viking or medieval spindle whorl made of antler discovered during the 2014 season.

Two millennia of human activity means that we have also unearthed a multitude of older residual finds which have been re-deposited in later deposits. So far, these have consisted of Viking bone and antler objects including gaming die and spindle whorls, as well as a wealth of Roman artefacts such as coinage, glasswork, pottery and of course, 2015’s star find; the carnelian intaglio.  Going back even earlier than this, we have found part of a prehistoric polished stone axe head and prehistoric ceramics.

Pandora's beautiful cornelian intaglio. Found in the summer 2015 season.

A beautiful cornelian intaglio found in 2015.

The 2017 season will offer the chance to work with human remains as well as other archaeological features and deposits that span a time frame of 800+ years, with a likelihood of even older residual finds also being recovered. It is an opportunity to work in highly stratified urban archaeological sequences in the heart of a truly historic city. For more in depth coverage on previous seasons and some of those star finds look through our week-by-week archive of site diaries. The diaries focus on the experiences of our trainees and will give you an idea of what to expect during your time with Archaeology Live!


The Archaeology Live! training excavation provides a way to learn about and participate in excavation, recording, planning, environmental sampling and finds processing.  Any other specific requests for training may also be available on application. Professional field archaeologists provide all the training throughout the course.

During Archaeology Live!, all of the archaeology will be excavated and recorded by the trainees; the trainers teach and assist when required. It is a field-based training program where people learn by doing the excavation, and by discovering and recording the archaeology themselves, rather than by classroom-based tuition.

For more information contact:


Mobile: +44 (0) 7908 210026



  1. Just pages of interesting a brilliant information on the ongoing archaeology After reading I just want to become a part of your work Looking forward to a reply. Hazel SMith. Sheffield

  2. Hazel a smith.

    March 21, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Would it be possible to book a place on next years archaeology excavations please h a smith

  3. miss julie mann

    April 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Hi could you put me on your mailing list for 2017 thankyou kind regards Julie

    • Hi Julie,

      The best way to make sure that you’re kept up to date is to send us an email saying that you’re interested in digging with us in 2017. With the volume of correspondence we receive, everything’s easiest by email.


  4. What email address should we contact you at to stay abreast of your current news? Thanks from your excavating friends in Texas:

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