Scarborough Big Dig-ital takes archaeology on line - how to take part

An online, collaborative and community-focused exploration of archaeological material from Scarborough is taking place this week.

By Sue Wilkinson
Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 1:20 pm
Archaeology goes on line
Archaeology goes on line

The Big Dig-ital will bring people together during these uncertain times by opening up conversations around Scarborough-specific objects that people have found or collected in the hope of

unlocking their story.

It will build a sense of community, tackle isolation and promote positive mental health and physical wellbeing. And maybe even open the door to a lifelong love of archaeology.

It will encourage families to get outside, work together and collect or find objects from their own gardens, around their house or even in long-forgotten kitchen drawers.

Organisers hope people will be able to find archeological “treasures” that could help tell Scarborough stories.

The event is produced by the Big Ideas by the Sea festival team, this new festival of debate and discussion will now take place in venues around Scarborough in May 2021.

John Oxley, former City of York archaeologist said: "We were disappointed to cancel our Big Dig Event, which was part of Scarborough’s first Festival of Ideas Big Ideas By The Sea, due to

take place in a couple of weeks time.

"However, we are embracing technology in the hope of bringing archaeology to everyone in a unique online event. It’s definitely a first for Scarborough, and will be a great way of engaging the community and hopefully sparking new interests in archaeology and local history."

The Big Dig-ital will be a collaborative online archeological adventure. People will submit images of archaeological objects they have found in Scarborough and the immediate area - either in their garden, in parks or on the beach. A specially assembled team will then identify the objects.

On Saturday May 16 the team will meet online to discuss the selected objects. It will be recorded and made available via our various social media pages, YouTube

and through the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society website.

People of any age who are interested in archaeology, live or have lived in Scarborough or anyone who wants to have an object they have found identified can take part.

You will need to find or have found some objects. Not all archaeology is hundreds or thousands of years old.

You will need access to a camera – the camera on your phone is perfect. You will need to be able to email your photographs to [email protected]The Big Dig-ital will take place between Friday May 8 and Saturday May 16.

Friday May 8

We want people living in Scarborough to go into their backyards and gardens and search for surface objects – for instance pieces of pottery, bone, shell, brick or tile - that they

can see lying on the surface of the ground. It is vital that you observe all government advice on social distancing and only go into your own back garden or back yard.

You may also have objects that you have already collected from your back garden or in parks or on beaches and other public spaces in Scarborough.

There are lots of people who no longer live in Scarborough. You may also have objects that were found here, if so send them in!

Once you have collected or found your objects you will need to carefully wash them (don’t wash anything metallic) and let them

dry. This can be done using a soft toothbrush and some cold water – a video on our social media pages will show you how to go about this: these objects using your camera phone or digital camera. Try and place the objects on a neutral background (e.g. a light coloured towel, sheet or plain paper) with

either coin (a 50p piece works well) or a ruler next to the object to provide a scale.

Photograph both sides of the object. If there are details visible on the object (letters/words, an inscription, break or cut marks, rims, spouts etc), photograph these too. Again, there

will be aids on our social media pages outlining these steps.

Most important of all, please email the photographs with details of where they were found (an address and a simple description will do) to [email protected] no later than 6pm on Wednesday May 13.

Thursday May 14 and Friday May 15

All object photographs will be researched, identified, sorted and recorded by the Big Dig-ital volunteers who will be located in their own homes.

We will email these identifications to all who have made submissions.

Saturday May 16 from 2pm to 3pm

The Big Dig-ital volunteers will join an online meeting where they will view and discuss 10 objects that have been selected from the items submitted and either agree or disagree on an identification for each of the objects.

The meeting will be recorded and subsequently made available as a video on Facebook and Youtube from Monday May 18.

You can register to view this online discussion live! Please use this link to apply to view the event:

We hope to gain a picture of the range and quality of archaeological objects that have been found across Scarborough.

This material will form a random sample. We can use this information along with existing data from excavations and museum collections to formulate new research questions about Scarborough and its importance in the past and its role in the future.