Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a range of questions that should help you decide how you want to be involved in this exciting and unique opportunity. If your questions is not answered or you still have other queries then please contact the Oxford-Wessex Archaeology (OWA) Outreach Officer by e-mail eastkent@thehumanjourney.net or by phone (0845 508 65 55). .

There will also be a community excavation from Monday 10th May until Friday 4th June where members of the general public can take part in an excavation alongside professional archaeologists.  If you already have archaeological experience and wish to work alongside professional archaeologists currently excavating various areas along the route of the bypass complete the Volunteers Application Form and add a basic resume of your archaeological experience to date.  The OWA Outreach Officer will then be in contact with you.

For local schools and organisations the OWA Outreach Officer can visit you and talk about the archaeology as well as providing guided tours at Community Excavation. If you want to know more please contact the OWA Outreach Officer by e-mail eastkent@thehumanjourney.net or by phone (0845 508 65 55).

1. Who can volunteer?

Anyone can volunteer, although preference will be given to those who live in the local community around the Isle of Thanet.  There is a lower age limit of 8 years at the time of volunteering.

2. How do I become a volunteer?

Read all the relevant information on the website and decide which part applies to you and members of your family.  There are different volunteering opportunities depending upon your experience and age. Unfortunately, you cannot just turn up and dig. We will need to know who is coming each day. There is a basic volunteering form which all volunteers need to complete. 

3. Is there a lower age limit?

Yes there is.  You must be at least 8 years old at the start of your volunteering time with us. Those aged between 8 years and up to 16 years will need to have a parent / guardian with them at all times. Those between 16 years up to 18 years will need to have an accompanying adult who is over 18 years.  All those under 18 years can ONLY apply to help on the community excavation. Those over 18 years can apply for all volunteering opportunities not just the community excavation subject to experience and availability.

4. What sort of volunteering opportunities are there?

There are a range of volunteering opportunities. You can join the Field Work Team (see FAQ no. 14A ) or the Finds / Environmental Team (see FAQ no. 14B). There is also an opportunity to work with the OWA Outreach Officer at events and exhibitions as well as taking an active part in the Community Excavation later in the year (see FAQ no. 8).

5. What is available for local school and societies and community organisations?

If you work in a local school or with a local community group or society you can contact the OWA Outreach Officer.  Visits to your school or community organisations can be arranged but need to be planned well in advance.  There will also be guided tours to the Community Excavation and the opportunity to take part in the excavations.

6. When can I start volunteering?

You can start volunteering right now.  There are two volunteering opportunities that are available from now until the end of July. Firstly, volunteering with the Field Work Team (See FAQ no. 14A) and secondly, with the Finds / Environmental Team (See FAQ no. 14B).

If you are not able to join either of these two groups because of your age, school work or full time work commitments than there is another opportunity in May & June when you can join us as part of the Community Excavation (See FAQ no. 8).

7. Can I just come for one day?

Yes you can, but this opportunity ONLY applies to the community excavation which runs from Monday 10th May until Friday 4th June. All the dates of the Community Excavation are found on the application form. If you want to volunteer for the Community Excavation and can come for more than one day then please indicate all the days you would like to attend in the appropriate section of the application form.  Preference will be given to those who live or work within the Thanet area.

8. What more can you tell me about the Community Excavation?

The information below covers most of the basic details about the Community Excavation. Site location and other relevant information will be sent to successful applicants closer to the date.

  • The proposed Community Excavation dates are from Monday 10th May until Friday 4th June and is aimed at the local community, i.e. those that live and work within the Thanet area.  It will also include an Open Day for the local community and when the site is staffed there will be free guided tours for schools, local organisations and members of the general public.  There will be no work on Monday 31st May as it’s a Bank Holiday.
  • All volunteers will work in small teams excavating a range of archaeological features supported by professional archaeologists. Everyone will have an introduction to the site and will be provided with all necessary equipment (i.e. gloves & trowels).  The site will have toilets, hand washing facilities, a meeting room and first aid point.
  • The work times will be from 9.30am to 3.30pm each day with a morning tea break (11-11.20) and a break for lunch (1 – 1.30). 
  • All volunteers will be expected to stay for the whole day and if young people (i.e. all those under 18 years) are also volunteers then parents/guardians will work alongside them.  Unfortunately, there are no crèche facilities.

9. If I do not want to excavate can I still come and help at the Community Excavations?

Yes you can.  There will be an opportunity to finds processing (i.e. washing the artefacts that the other volunteers have excavated). The finds processing will take place on the same site and at the same times with professional support.

10. So when can I volunteer for the Community Excavation?

You can volunteer as soon as you want.  Read all the basic details, complete the volunteer application form (one per person) and send it to the OWA Outreach Officer at the address on the application form so that it arrives as soon as possible.  All volunteers will be on a first come first serve basis with preference for local people.  If we are overwhelmed by application forms, volunteers may be limited to a maximum of five days per person. 

Please note that we will take volunteers after the excavation has started but you will have to allow for the form to arrive and for the Outreach Officer to send out joining instructions.  So please do not expect to be able to join the Community Excavation immediately.  Please allow at least six days from when you want to excavate.  You cannot just turn up.

11. Can I bring a small group (i.e. maximum of 10 persons) to excavate for one day while the Community Excavation is on?

Yes you can, so long as it’s arranged with the OWA Outreach Officer well in advance (i.e. as a group allow at least ten days before you wish to excavate). All group members will need to complete an application form. And will be on a first come basis.

12. What do I bring if I come to the Community Excavation?

  • You will need to wear old casual clothes, walking boots or stout shoes, waterproofs  (as we do not stop if it rains), a sunhat and sun protection cream, gloves, sunglasses, protective cream and any medication needed.  Tea / coffee / squash / water will be provided but you are advised to bring plenty to drink and food for the day. You may also wish to bring a gardeners mat (helps to protect the knees), a notebook, pencil and a camera (to record the event).  Volunteers will be loaned all equipment (high visibility vest and trowel) for which a small deposit may be required.
  • As part of the official record, OWA staff will be filming and taking photographs throughout the excavation period (February – July) including the Community Excavation. By signing the volunteer application form you agree for this material to be used by Kent County Council, VolkerFitzpatrick HOCHTIEF as well Oxford and Wessex Archaeology.

13. Where will the Community Excavation be based?

Once we have received your completed application forms (which should arrive asap and certainly at least 6 days before you want to excavate / finds process) the OWA Outreach Officer will make up daily teams of volunteers with the community site supervisor.  They will decide who is able to come on certain days and then they will send out further details on the site location and any travel details.  The aim is to have the community excavation site accessible by local transport as well as having parking for those that come by car. 

14. I have been involved in archaeological excavations before so apart from the Community Excavation what do you have on offer?

If you already have archaeological experience, are over 18 years and wish to work alongside professional archaeologists there are two opportunities.

A. Volunteers who wish to work with the Field Work Team

  • Volunteers will work in the field on a range of archaeological sites.
  • Volunteer numbers will be limited and all are expected to volunteer for at least FIVE days (Monday – Friday) or four days if there is a Bank Holiday.  However, preference will be given to those that can commit to at least two weeks or more.
  • Besides completing the standard volunteer form all potential field work volunteers will also need to attach a resume of their past experience. Dates, venues, work undertaken, etc.
  • Once your application form and attached resume has been received and discussed the OWA Outreach Officer will confirm whether or not you are able to work with the Field Work Team by post, e-mail or phone.
  • Volunteers will be working alongside professional staff and will be expected to work the same work hours as they do. 
  • Volunteers will also be required to undertake an introduction session led by VolkerFitzpatrick HOCHTIEF and OWA staff.
  • Volunteers will be expected to have steel capped boots and trowel but all other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided by Oxford-Wessex Archaeology.
  • All PPE equipment borrowed for the duration of your volunteering experience remains the property of Oxford-Wessex Archaeology and will be returned at the end the volunteering period.

B. Volunteers who wish to work with the Finds / Environmental Team 

  • Volunteers can come for any length of time from one day to two weeks as a time.
  • Volunteers would complete the standard volunteer form and indicate the dates that they would like to volunteer.  e.g. Every Wednesday for three weeks beginning 24th March.
  • Volunteers would work from Tuesday to Thursday with PWA staff at the main VolkerFitzpatrick HOCHTIEF compound.
  • Volunteers would work from 9.30am – 3.30pm on agreed days and will take breaks as decided by OWA staff.
  • Volunteers would also be required to undertake an introduction session led by VolkerFitzpatrick HOCHTIEF and Oxford-Wessex Archaeology staff.
  • Volunteers would wear casual clothes and suitable footwear but not scandals, flip flops or bare feet.
  • All PPE equipment borrowed for the duration of your volunteering experience remains the property of Oxford-Wessex Archaeology and will be returned at the end the volunteering period. 

15. Can you provide accommodation?

Unfortunately, we cannot offer any accommodation.  There are many hotels, B&Bs and campsites close to the excavation area. For further details please contact the Tourist Information Centres at Broadstairs, Margate or Ramsgate on 01843 577 577.

16. What happens if I cannot come one day?

If for some reason you are unable to work it is important that you contact the relevant person as soon as possible. Contact details will be given at the introduction meeting. Communication is very important particularly when there are others that could take your place.

17. What happens if a Project Officer feels that a volunteer it not suited to the work? 

If a Project Officer or Site Supervisor feels that a volunteer is not suited to their current work they will talk in the first instance to the volunteer and then the OWA Outreach Officer.  The volunteer will be given an opportunity to work elsewhere if appropriate.

18. What if I no longer wish to continue being a volunteer?

If you are no longer able or no longer wish to continue volunteering then please let the OWA Outreach Officer know as soon as possible by e-mail, letter or telephone.

19. I still have some questions what do I do?

If you still have any queries after reading the above FAQs please contact the OWA Outreach Officer by e-mail (eastkent@thehumanjourney.net) or by phone (0845 508 65 55). The aim of the Frequently Asked Questions is not to put you off but to ensure that you are ready to take the next step and join us in this exciting opportunity.

20. How do I get an application form?

You can print off an application form from the website https://eastkent.owarch.co.uk.  If you are unable to print off an application form from our website please contact the OWA Outreach Officer by e-mail (eastkent@thehumanjourney.net) or by phone (0845 508 65 55).

21. Where do I send my completed application Form?

You send you completed application form to the following address

‘Volunteering’, Oxford-Wessex Archaeology, c/o VolkerFitzpatrick HOCHTIEF, The Project Office, Port Richborough Business Park, Ramsgate Road, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9PQ.

If you want us to acknowledge that we have received your application form please include a SAE.



April 2010