Volunteers are needed to join a summer excavation at Chester Farm in June. Whether you are new to digging, have done a little but want to do more, or have lots of previous experience, there will be tasks for you to experience and enjoy.

The excavation is being run in partnership with the University of Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, and will be providing training and experience to archaeology students. There will therefore be an opportunity to learn more about archaeology as an academic study.

The practical tasks for volunteers will include digging (hard manual labour!), using a trowel, cleaning and defining features, and some processing of any finds that are unearthed. The area to be excavated is what was, from the 18th century, the walled garden and orchard beside the farm buildings. It is known that there is a cemetery dating from the late Roman period in the area, among other features.

Volunteers at Chester Farm


  • Monday 3 June to Friday 21 June, 9:00am to 4:30pm
  • Saturday 8 June and Sunday 9 June, 9:30 am to 4:00pm

The total number of places for volunteers will be limited and will be allocated according to demand. It is important that as many people as possible a chance are given a chance to ‘have a go’. You may not be allocated all the days for which you apply.

Minimum attendance is a full day at a time. But you might ask to work three full days in three separate weeks, for example. Sorry, the site cannot supervise anyone under 17. You need to be reasonably fit and prepared to get a bit muddy! 

Express your interest

To express interest, please email chesterfarm@northamptonshire.gov.uk, stating your level of experience and the dates on which you would be available to join the excavation. You will be sent confirmation of the dates that you have been allocated and some further information a week before the start of the dig.

Archaeological excavations undertaken by volunteers with professional support are a key aspect of the project. These excavations offer the chance for people to have a very ‘hands on’ and practical experience of archaeology and heritage, while helping uncover further information about the site. This year is important as the first year the excavations have been run in partnership with the University of Leicester. This will hopefully be the start of an initial five-year programme of exploratory excavations and educational activities that will open up the site to a wider audience.

Site conditions and requirements

Your health and safety is important. If you have a medical condition that might impact on your time on site, then you need to inform the team of this in advance and provide an emergency phone number.

Your help with practical matters will also be required to ensure that you are safe on site. You will need to dress appropriately:

  • Long trousers (no shorts or skirts)
  • Stout footwear (ideally boots) not trainers or wellies
  • Sun hat and sun tan lotion
  • Extra layers in the event of cold or wet weather

You will need to bring lunch and any drinks or snacks that you might need to site. (There will be no access to a fridge, or microwave or similar, so please bear this in mind when choosing your lunch.)

You also need to be aware that there will only be access to chemical toilets, not full bathroom facilities. If you are not comfortable with ‘roughing it’ a bit, this experience is not for you.

We do hope that you will want to join this dig and help uncover the heritage of Chester Farm.

University of Leicester Heritage Fund