News  |  Posted June 21, 2021

Society’s Dig It! Project Launches Scotland Digs 2021 Campaign

The summer dig season returns with fieldwork planned from Dumfries & Galloway to Shetland.

Scotland is shining a spotlight on its world-class archaeology this summer with Scotland Digs 2021. Now in its third year, the campaign will bring together live updates and events for members of the public from 21 June to 22 September.


The impressive ruins of Glengarnock Castle in North Ayrshire are set to be the site of a new archaeological investigation during the Scotland Digs 2021 campaign (Image: DigVentures)

After the COVID-19 pandemic halted much of the sector’s plans last year, many community-led groups and other dig organisers plan to once again resume fieldwork and welcome members of the public with free site visits and volunteering opportunities.

During the campaign, the public will have the chance to visit, and in some cases participate in, fieldwork in locations such as Orkney, North Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway and East Lothian – no experience required. In addition, plans are currently being finalised for further investigations in the Highlands and Shetland.

The campaign also highlights work of commercial archaeology units, whose work offsets the impact that development (such as the building of new houses, schools or roads) has on the historic environment.

Scotland Digs 2021 is coordinated by the Dig It! project whose 2020 summer campaign, Scotland Digs Digital, was recently nominated in AHI’s 2021 Engaging People Awards.


Volunteers will once again be called upon to search for the remains of the wooden rails, wagons and wheels of the Tranent to Cockenzie Waggonway during the Scotland Digs 2021 campaign (Image: 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group)

Dr Jeff Sanders FSAScot, Project Manager at the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’s Dig It! project, said:

“A summer of discovery is an exciting prospect and we’re thrilled that many of these sites are able to open up to the public again. Whether they’re community or development led, each one will help add a new chapter to a bigger story. And as Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy outlines, uncovering new stories helps create a connection to past peoples, gives a sense of perspective on what it means to be human, and helps us imagine how the future can be different.”

Nick Card FSAScot, Excavation Director at the Ness of Brodgar excavation in Orkney, said:

“Although it will be very different to previous years, we are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the Ness to see the incredible archaeology in two of the three main trenches and once again watch archaeologists in action at a working excavation.”

Ed Bethune FSAScot, Chairman at the 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group who are digging in East Lothian this summer, said:

“We’re excited to finally have the chance to expose more of the Waggonway and get a full understanding of how it was constructed, and hopefully finding some evidence of the people who operated it. We’ll also be getting stuck back into a 17th century salt pan house in Cockenzie where we hope to find more evidence of the internal structures, including the furnace. As part of East Lothian Council Archaeology Fortnight, we’ll also be running a public test pit exercise alongside our main site, where we hope to test the level of preservation of the Waggonway track at intervals along the route.”

Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to support Scotland Digs 2021. This is a fantastic incentive to get people of all ages in Scotland involved in archaeology and a great opportunity for volunteers to get hands on fun with excavations and explore the fascinating stories of Scotland’s past.”

Dig It!, which advertises archaeology events throughout the year, is coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and primarily funded by Historic Environment Scotland.

For more information, follow #ScotlandDigs2021 or visit

Header Image: Several trenches at the 5,000-year-old Neolithic complex at Ness of Brodgar in Orkney will be uncovered during the Scotland Digs 2021 campaign (Credit: Hugo Anderson-Whymark)