Digging the Origins of England

When did the medieval world first take shape? The period c. AD 650-850 – ‘the long 8th century’ – saw the consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the rise of the Church, the creation of great estates, an agricultural revolution based on heavy ploughs, open fields, and nucleated villages, and the development of emporia, craftwork, and long-distance trade in prestige goods. It was a new world of wealth, power, and connections; a world of landlords and warlords, merchants and monks, free men and serfs. It represented the emergence of the Medieval order from the ‘Dark Ages’ following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

Digging Sedgeford

This is the world being explored at Sedgeford. For 20 years, we have been digging a Middle Anglo-Saxon village, cemetery, and industrial complex on the edge of the North Sea. We know it evolved from a small, loose, open settlement into a busy, ordered, grid-planned village. We know it had a large Christian cemetery. We know – from the pots, coins, bone combs, and bronze brooches we have found – that it was in contact with distant places. We know – from the fatal injuries seen on their skeletons – that its men-folk sometimes marched off to war. We know, in short, that it was part of the dynamic, turbulent, fast-changing society of the North Sea zone during the long 8th century. We want to understand this world, but we also want to understand where it came from, and where it was going? We want to know about the context of Middle Anglo-Saxon Sedgeford in both space and time. So we are working with the University of Leiden as a lead partner in the Ancient and Medieval North Sea Research Group. And we have secondary projects looking at Roman Sedgeford and Medieval Sedgeford.

Time Team and Glastonbury...

Sedgeford is one of the longest-running, best-appointed, and most high-profile research and training digs in the country. It offers cutting-edge experience of archaeological fieldwork for all levels – from the sixth-former getting her first taste of excavation to the seasoned academic specialist. It offers this in the context of a relaxed, friendly, fun-loving atmosphere, where the aim is the empowerment of all through learning new skills, working as a team, and sharing in decision-making. The full work-programme is supplemented by a weekly (optional) out-of-hours schedule of BBQ, film showing, quiz, lecture, sports, general meeting, and punch party. The Sedgeford Project, according to the local press, is a cross between Time Team and Glastonbury!

Summer 2016 Season (9th July to 19th August) 

The programme for the Summer 2016 Season will include:

  • Large-scale excavation on the site of the Middle Anglo-Saxon village (all six weeks).
  • Large-scale excavation on the site of the Middle Anglo-Saxon industrial complex (all six weeks).
  • Continuing investigation of Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Sedgeford in the context of the north-west Norfolk landscape (first two weeks).
  • Small-scale excavation on the site of the Medieval manor and water-mill (middle two weeks).
  • Small-scale excavation on the site of the First World War aerodrome (last two weeks).

We will be offering the following courses:

  • Basic Excavation and Recording Techniques (Weeks 1-5)
  • Landscape Archaeology (Week 1)
  • Environmental Archaeology (Week 2)
  • Medieval Archaeology (Week 3)
  • Introduction to Animal and Human Osteo-archaeology (Week 4)
  • Archaeo-metallurgy (Week 5) Further Studies in Human Remains
  • (Week 5)
  • Pottery in Archaeology (Week 6)



About the fund

John spent his working life fighting for opportunities for others and the fund has been established to give those who would not otherwise be able to come to SHARP, the chance to excavate or take one of our courses and participate in the archaeology that John dearly loved.

Bursary Fund Guidelines

The Bursary has £300 per year available to assist with such costs and which will be divided between the successful applicants. The bursary money can be used towards the cost of an excavation activity or a course. Consideration will be given to first time applicants to the fund.

How to apply

If you wish to apply for the Bursary, please submit no more than 250 words (please use a separate document for your application) explaining why you should to be considered. If you are applying on behalf of someone else, please include applicant and beneficiary details. All applications will be handled in confidence.


Applications should be emailed to David Woods at before March 1st 2016. We hope to inform all applicants of the results during April 2016.



For the past nineteen summers and for many months in between, the history of the north-west Norfolk village of Sedgeford has been explored by a team of archaeologists, students and volunteers, historians and specialists. Digging Sedgeford: A People's Archaeology is the story of and what they have discovered and an extraordinary insight into the historical importance of this corner of Norfolk.

Priced at £19.95 (plus £3.00 for UK postage), order your copy at



Our 2014 excavation season will run from Sunday 6th July to Friday 15th August  and we are looking to run a range of excavation projects and courses. For those looking to come and dig with us we will be continuing our ongoing research of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Chalk Pit field and in addition we will be evaluating a Roman farmstead, a Medieval manor and village landscape, along with researching a WWI militarised landscape.We will also be running a variety of courses, details can be found under the Courses section.


2014 OPEN DAY - Sunday 27th July


SHARP is holding it’s annual Open Day on Sunday, 27th July in the Boneyard Field in Sedgeford from 10am to 4pm.

There’s the chance to watch archaeologists at work and see some of the finds that give a glimpse of life in this Norfolk village from 4,000 years ago right up to the First World War.

And there’s the chance to see the skeleton of one villager who – over 1,000 years ago – had the bad luck to meet a band of Viking raiders!

Families are welcome and activities for children include the opportunity to dig for history themselves, the chance to have their faces painted like a Celtic warrior or Queen Boudicca, to learn how to make Anglo-Saxon pots and write their names in runes.

There will be talks and guided tours by our archaeologists throughout the day and other events include a traditional blacksmith using ancient methods to make tools and weapons and the opportunity see what food Norfolk Anglo-Saxons enjoyed.



Please see below our list of weekly lectures:

Tuesday 8th July - Prof. John Blair, Oxford University -  SHARP, The Years of the Monograph: The evolution of our understanding of Sedgeford's Past.

Tuesday 15th July - Dr. Keith Robinson - Medieval Mills, Manors and Churches: The Landscape of Sedgeford in the Middle Ages.

Tuesday 22nd July - The SHARP Human Remains Team - Skeletal Trauma in the Boneyard: Accidental and inflicted, is there a Historical Perspective?

Tuesday 29th July - Jon Cousins, SHARP Excavation Director - The Anglo-Saxon Settlement, Estates and Ovens.

Tuesday 5th August - Dr. Neil Faulkner, SHARP Founder Director - The Iron Age and Roman Period: Prosperous Kingdom, Client state, Imperial Estate?

Tuesday 12th August - Erica Darch, Norfolk Portable Antiquities Scheme - The Portable Antiquities Scheme: Fascinating Finds from Norfolk.

All lectures are held at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Sedgeford and commence at 7.30pm. Admission is £3.00


3rd June 2013

Our 2013 excavation season begins on Sunday 7th July and runs through to Friday 16th August. We still have opportunities to come and dig as a volunteer excavator on our main site, or study with us on one of our many courses. Click on the Our Courses link on our Home Page to find out more details.



3rd June 2013

Dig for the Day has now been extended - there are places available between Sunday 14th July and Thursday 1st August. Friday sessions will be shorter as they finish with our weekly site tour. To check available dates email




21st March 2013

For all those wanting to see a bit more of the project take a look at our video clip taken back in 2011



9th March 2013

We are very sorry to have to inform you that unfortunately due to a safety problem we’re going to have to cancel this year’s  excavations at the aerodrome including the Modern Conflict Archaeology course. We are sorry for any inconvience this has caused.  This course will now be deleted from the website.  We hope to resume our excavations in 2014.


Interesting ironwork

21st February 2013

The conservator who has been working on some of the ironwork from Chalk Pit Field, Alison Hopper Bishop, has recently finished cleaning several of the more interesting objects from SH09. She has discovered that two of the objects have white metal decoration, including the more complete of the two spurs. The terminal of the other spur has been revealed and it is an early form. The spur is also unusually small and was possibly made for a child. The other object with white metal decoration has a very distinctive form and appears to be a sword guard. Pottery from the same context dates from the 12th/13th century. More information will come from the specialist who is writing up the assemblage.





7th February 2013


Bookings are now being taken and places on courses are filling up fast, to secure your place on a course book now to avoid disappointment.  Full details on all courses can be found here



More dates announced for this summer's courses

5th February 2013


We have now confirmed dates for more of this summer's courses. We will be running a week long Modern Conflict Archaeology course, w/c 14th July. The one day Flint in Archaeology course will be on Sunday 14th July and Flint Knapping with John Lord will be on Thursday 18th July and Wednesday 7th August. Full details on these and all our other courses can be found here