top of page
Black Soil


May 20th To May 31st 2024

The Scarborough Big Dig 4, 2024


The Big Dig 4 will take place between May 20th and May 31st 2024 running from 9.30am to 4pm each day.  We will  excavate up to 100m2 on the green space at Paradise in Scarborough Old Town by St Mary’s Church. 


What are we looking for?


The archaeological excavation is designed to explore the development of settlement in Scarborough Old Town and in particular to look at the area around St Mary's Church. The site at Paradise today is a sloping green open space. The Big Dig has uncovered evidence for the use of this space as a landscaped garden between c.1700AD and c.1920AD. Before then it was a monastic garden associated with the house built by the Cistercians on the site of Paradise House around 1180AD. What was on the site before 1180? We hope to answer that question during the Big Dig 4! In addition, we want to try and answer other questions about Scarborough Old Town: is there evidence for occupation of the area in the Roman period? Written evidence suggests that a settlement here was burned by Viking raiders: is there archaeological evidence for this settlement and the Viking attack? Does this earlier settlement form the basis for the borough established in the shadow of Scarborough Castle by Henry I? How does the area around St Mary’s Church develop after the establishment of the borough by Henry I in the twelfth century? Is there for the important 12th to 14th century pottery industry in Scarborough?


The 2024 Excavation


The excavation this year will take place on open green space at Paradise, Scarborough, within a secure fenced compound and will extend the area we excavated in 2022 and 2023. 


The programme for the first week of the excavation, Monday 20th May to Friday 24th May, will concentrate on working with schoolchildren from local schools. Young people will have the opportunity to excavate on a real archaeological site. They will also take part in creative arts workshops organised by Petra Ingham, our Big Reach visual artist and artist-in-residence at St Mary's Church.


From Saturday 25th May to Thursday 30th May the excavation will be open for volunteers to take part. We will have 10 places available each day for volunteers - you can book either a morning session or an afternoon session or a whole day. No previous archaeological experience is required - we will show you what to do! And participation is FREE!


How can I take part?


Please go to our ticketsource shop where you can book your place. You can book for either a morning session, or an afternoon session, or a full-day session. Booking goes live on Monday 17th April.


Book here ​​




The Big Dig is a key part of the festival. It is a community archaeology and arts project that has been generously funded to date by Yorkshire Coast BID & Arts Council England. The project was initiated by Big Ideas By The Sea CIC and takes place in partnership with Heritage Adventures Ltd, Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society, Parish Church of St Mary’s, Scarborough and St. Martins-On-The-Hill. Permission to excavate on its land has been granted by North Yorkshire Council. 


Sponsored by

bottom of page