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Leiston: Archeologists to revisit medieval site for second ‘crowdfunded’ dig

12:20 15 March 2014

Amateur archaeologists helped fund the dig in exchange for a place in the trenches last year; Organisers L-R Raksha Dave (Field School Manager), Brendon Wilkins (Project Director), Lisa Westcott-Wilkins (MD of the project)

Amateur archaeologists helped fund the dig in exchange for a place in the trenches last year; Organisers L-R Raksha Dave (Field School Manager), Brendon Wilkins (Project Director), Lisa Westcott-Wilkins (MD of the project)

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A team of archeologists are returning to the ruins of a medieval Suffolk monastery, where they will again invite amateur history sleuths to join in the dig.

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Start of a crowd-funded and crowd-sourced archaeological dig at Leiston Abbey.; Amateur archaeologists helped fund the dig in exchange for a place in the trenches.Start of a crowd-funded and crowd-sourced archaeological dig at Leiston Abbey.; Amateur archaeologists helped fund the dig in exchange for a place in the trenches.

The grounds of Leiston Abbey had been left almost untouched until last year, when site managers teamed up with DigVentures to run a community dig.

More than 1,000 people visited and took part in the two-week project, helping to unearth treasures significant enough to tempt the team back from July 7-20 this year.

DigVentures managing director Lisa Westcott Wilkins said: “We were blown away by the archaeology at Leiston Abbey, as well as by the enthusiastic participation of the local community.

“Many people from the area joined our international dig team in the trenches, and hundreds stopped by for a look. We felt very welcome and can’t wait to get started again this year.”

Last summer’s dig was only the second ‘crowdfunded’ project of its kind - and the team are hoping to help fund the 2014 dig by raising £18,000 by May 31.

Andrew Quartermain, chief executive and artistic director of Pro Corda, an international music school and charity which manages the site, said: “This dig is another important step in our mission to develop Leiston Abbey into an even more vibrant resource for the local area and for the thousands of visitors who come here from across the world.”

Raksha Dave, field school manager at DigVentures and former Time Team archaeologist, said: “For as little as £10, you can be a part of the project through joining our digital dig team and following us on our website, where we’ll be sharing news, interviews, lectures and special events live from the dig every day.”

Pro Corda and DigVentures have recently formed an official partnership, which will see archaeologists in residence at the Abbey year-round.

The summer excavations aim to further investigate the previously unknown prehistoric phase at the abbey - as well as locate lost trenches excavated in the 1980s but never archived or published - for a five-year research design.

The abbey is free to visit and there will be site tours of the dug trenches.

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