Essential Kit

What equipment do you really need on an archaeology dig?

Many first-time archaeologists worry about what to take with them on their
first dig. All sorts of fears about looking cool or stupid, arrogant or idiotic
roll through your brain in the weeks running up to the first day on site.

Firstly, all digs are different, so each will have its own requirements. Therefore
asking questions is necessary and welcome. Anyone who doesn’t answer or makes
you feel bad about asking is no true archaeologist. Ask your contact if shorts
are a good idea? If you need to bring your own trowel? if kneepads are necessary?
If you need any vaccinations? Since in some sites the answer to all of these
is yes and at others the answer is no, you cannot be expected to know in advance
can you?

On to my personal list of things I will always take with me on a dig:

    • Trowel
    • Kneeling pad

The trowel is essential because you use it all day. It is your weapon of choice and gets fetishised and teotemised by fellow diggers to the point where they are unwilling to use any trowel except their own. Dont touch other archaeologists trowels without permission.  There, you have been warned. lets say nothing more about it.

The kneeling pads or industrial kneepads are there because I like comfort.Lets say nothing more about that either!.

  • Roughneck thermos flask (these are great because they don’t have breakable glass in them and so wont get smashed)
    fill with coffee, tea, hot chocolate or mulled cider as you see fit. .
  • Large brimmed hat – vital.  No, REALLY vital
  • Waterproofs (otherwise it WILL rain all day)
  • Sunglasses
  • Suntan cream
  • Jumper or fleece
  • Heavy workboots (preferably steel toecapped)
  • Small pocket notebook or Ipad with enough battery life
  • Spare pens and pencils (h3 or harder) – you wouldn’t believe how many
    pens go missing on a dig. Someday some future archaeologist will dig them all up and write a thesis on them.
  • I-Pod or other personal stereo (relaxing music works best).

As for clothes, I usually wear shorts no matter what the weather. Long trousers
just get muddy, dirty and wet. Besides, I have great looking knees!

If you were inspired to start archaeology partly because of watching the late Mick Aston on Channel 4’s Time Team then a stripey jumper is a fine thing to wear as a tribute whilst digging.

Chris Brown ©2002, updated -2015