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What To Expect On Our Site

We’re happy that you’re considering volunteering or joining our team. If you are a seasoned digger then you will probably already know what to bring with you, and how things operate – including the great British weather!

For those with previous experience, please head over to our contact page to express your interest in joining the project.

To put your mind at ease, we are fully covid compliant, and we always follow the latest regulations set out by the government. This can be frustrating at times, but safety is our number one priority. If the site is restricted for any reason, please accept our apologies.

Site Fees?

If you come along and decide that you’d like to make it a regular occurrence, you’ll be asked to join DROP for a nominal fee. The funds are used to cover the running of the site, DROP is a non-profit organisation.

I’m a complete newcomer – what are the basics?

Uncovering more tiles.

This is a practical guide for getting yourself geared up if you’re a complete newcomer to archaeology. We are excited that you are thinking about branching out into the (literal) field of Roman archaeology, it can be daunting to take on a new interest, but we’re here to let you know it’s rewarding and a great way to spend your free time.

As you can see from our photos, we do not have an age restriction for the site, we just ask that you let us know of any medical conditions that may affect your time with us. Currently the site is not fully accessible for wheelchair users, however, we can discuss alternatives for you if required.

What equipment will I need?

If it wisnae for your wellies where would you be?

You’ll be out in an open field, so here are some suggestions of essential items that will make your time at the site a lot more comfortable:

  • We have a gazebo and a few communal collapsible chairs and stools, but it’s best to bring your own seat, if it’s particularly windy you may wish to bring a windbreak.
  • We work rain, hail or shine, so you’ll need waterproofs (including over trousers), or sun protection, and a hat, sunglasses and insect repellent… these are all are advisable, but the list is not exhaustive!
  • You’ll also need sturdy footwear, and old clothes. If it’s wet you’ll end up caked in mud, and if there’s been no rain for a while, you’ll be covered with a film of dust.  Think of the type of clothes you’d normally wear for DIY.

What Could You Do On Our Site?

Finds that have been washed and are waiting to dry, befre being sorted.

You may not have an archaeology qualification but this does not mean you can’t join in!

You might think that the archetypal archaeologist spends all day in a trench with a trowel, but there are other opportunities to help, depending on your stamina and interests.

If you do wish to help with the physical excavation of the site please be aware that the labour involved is very hard work! It can take a toll on bits of the body that may not have complained before – especially backs, knees and wrists. You’ll be using a trowel, spade or even a pickaxe. Then you’ll be carting a bucket or wheelbarrow to the spoil heap to dump it out, and start all over again. If you are interested in this side of the work please bring your own trowel, a garden kneeler helps immensely, and gardening/ builders gloves prevent blisters.

The reward for all the effort? Finding that elusive piece of Samian pottery, glass jewellery or bone comb which hasn’t seen the light of day for over 1500 years! 

Back and forth to the spoil heap, after the rain comes the rainbow!

Finds Processing

An example of beautiful patterned tile.

If you prefer not to dig there are a multitude of other smaller roles that are essential to the project. Finds processing is one of them; after all, how do you think all of those ceramics got so neatly lined up in the previous photo?

Everything unearthed from the trenches needs to be carefully cleaned (using water from our own brook), and then ‘specialist’ equipment such as washing up bowls, rubber gloves, toothbrushes and tooth picks are used to gently remove the dirt! Everything is dried, bagged and labelled for further analysis. We preserve a reference from the site context where it was found, so that we can begin to build up a picture of what each space in the building was used for.

If you have a yearning to be an expert in Roman pottery, animal bone or even the wider history of Otford, this is a great place to start!

Whatever avenue you decide to venture down, you’ll be given guidance by onsite experts who have hundreds(!) of years of experience between them. The site leaders have worked on Roman locations in the southeast of England such as Fishbourne Palace. Best of all you’ll have a day out in the fresh air, often with the Spitfires from Biggin Hill buzzing overhead! 

Whether you’re 8 or 80, a digger or a washer-upper, a novice or an expert, you are most welcome to come and join us! Please use the contact page to register your interest.

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