In AD 640, Princess Aebbe established a monastery in the Scottish borders. She was the sister of King Oswald, ruler of the great Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, and an influential figure.
 
But unlike the famous monastery her brother founded on Lindisfarne, hers has never been definitively located.
 
Armed with new information, we're on a mission to find it. We think the original structure is somewhere near a much later monastery called Coldingham Priory.
 
We're due to start excavating in June, to see if we can find further archaeological evidence of this historic site.
 
But we can't dig the entire site. In fact, we only have enough time to dig three trenches. The problem is that there's so much interesting stuff on the map that it's difficult to decide... and we think YOU can  help us!
 
This is probably the first time archaeologists have EVER done this, but we're throwing the decision over to you. Does anything catch your eye? Which three locations do you think will produce the most interesting results? In short, where do you think we should dig?
 
This really is archaeology in your hands!
 
We're giving you two maps, and a brief description of where we can dig. It's then up to you to decide. We'll use your choices to guide where we put our trenches, and what we focus our excavation on. You've got three choices - use them wisely!

Map 1: Aerial Photograph Of The Site
This map shows you what the site looks like from the air, and should give a good overall impression of the area. Have quick look...

Map 2: Where We Can Dig
This is a map of a geophysics survey, with our possible trench locations marked ontop. There's also a brief description of what we think we might find at each location, based on the survey and earlier trial excavations. There are six options (A-F), but you can only pick three. Take a good look...


Trench A

Covers a wall, part of a big rectangular ditch, and a narrower ditch that likely dates to AD 620–780 based on earlier excavation results. Digging here could confirm whether the narrow ditch is early medieval (like Aebbe’s monastery), and whether the big ditch can tell us how this area was being used and what the environment was like.

Trench B
Covers a possible trackway made of two parallel ditches with rubble in between, and walls extending on each side. But results from Test Pit 1 didn’t produce any dateable evidence, rubble or even any wall! Digging here would help us confirm whether these impressive-looking features actually exist and if they do, whether they’re part of Aebbe’s monastery.

Trench C
Covers LOTS of ditches, probably each from a different era. There’s another part of the big rectangular ditch seen in Trench A, but here it’s even bigger. To the north, it’s crossed by another part of the possible trackway seen in Trench B. To the south, it’s crossed by a circular ditch. Digging here could help us establish a chronology of events, and whether any of the ditches are part of Aebbe’s monastery.

Trench D
Covers two curious curving ditches, one of which is aligned with the narrow ditch dating to AD 620-780 running through Trench A. The other appears to be part of a huge circle projected to extend over 50m in diameter – it’s very out of place with everything else and could be prehistoric. Digging here could help us confirm the presence of more 7th – 8th century ditches, and even some much earlier remains.

Trench E
Covers an area where strong signals from the geophysics survey suggest this area was used for some small-scale industry requiring high temperatures, like smelting, smithing or firing. Curiously, we also found lots of animal bones in Test Pit 3, which is right in the middle of one of the ditches. Digging here could help us find out what activity or industry took place here, and how long ago.

Trench F
Covers at least three different features - a pit, some ditches and a wall. One of the ditches forms a rectangular enclosure, and looks very much like the remains of a buried building. There’s also a large pit just inside it, and another straight ditch that runs right down the middle of the trench. Digging here could confirm the presence of a building, what is was for, and whether it’s part of Aebbe’s monastery.

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* Now it's over to you!
Based on this information, where do you think we should dig? Remember, you can only pick three locations, so choose wisely!

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* Would you like us to let you know the final results? If yes, just enter your name and email address.

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* We'd also love to hear more about your decision. Why do think we should dig in those three places, rather than the others?

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* And have you ever been involved in a DigVentures project before?

Thanks for your input. Your answers really will help us decide where to dig... we hope you chose wisely!

The excavation starts in June, near Coldingham Priory in Scotland. You can follow our progress online, or even get yourself a place on the dig team, just by clicking here.

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