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 Altogether Archaeology

Your chance to get involved in local archaeology!  

From the hunters and gatherers of prehistory to the miner-farmers of the 19th century, human communities have continually left their mark on the historic environment of the North Pennines. However, our knowledge of these communities is patchy, to say the least. Our current understanding may be likened to a just a few pieces of a complex multi-dimensional jigsaw; new pieces are occasionally discovered, some of which fit with others, but there will always be huge gaps in our understanding that we can only fill through careful interpretation and informed speculation.

Compared with other upland areas of northern England, the North Pennines has been relatively little studied by archaeologists. This is partly because the AONB's historic environment has been managed over recent decades through two government regions, three county councils and six district councils, all of which have had priorities elsewhere. Altogether Archaeology is the first project designed to study the North Pennines as an area in its own right.

The Altogether Archaeology project (largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) brings together professional archaeologists and volunteers to focus research on the historic environment of the North Pennines, while paying due regard to relationships with adjacent areas and its position at the heart of Britain. The project has much to offer the local economy, as well as being of great social and spiritual value to locals and visitors alike.

The Pilot Project (2010-11)

The Altogether Archaeology pilot project (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Natural England) lasted 18 months from July 2010 until December 2011. It attracted over 400 local volunteers who completed various projects at locations throughout the AONB under professional supervision. Sites studied included prehistoric rock art, Roman roads, medieval castles, and multi-period archaeological landscapes – find out more by clicking on the links below.

The Current Project (2012-15)

The AONB Partnership’s three-year, larger scale Altogether Archaeology project, generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, began in September 2012 and runs through until September 2015. It aims to complete archaeological survey and excavation projects at a wide range of sites, from prehistoric stone circles to nineteeth-century lead mining sites. Participation in the project is open to all - why not sign up yourself? No experience is needed as full training will be given – all you require to become a volunteer is enthusiasm for your local heritage! 

Sign up as an Altogether Archaeology volunteer!

To find out more about the Altogether Archaeology project, or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact Paul Frodsham (Historic Environment Officer for the AONB Partnership) at or 01388 528801.


Aerial view of Whitley Castle Roman Fort - near Alston
Excavation at Maiden Way
Excavating stone staircase at Westgate Castle
Excavation at Shildon, near Blanchland