Join The History Diggers...

Maison Dieu archaeology finds

Finds from test pits included fragments of medieval window tracery, butchered animal bone and decorated late medieval or Tudor tile

..and help excavate the site of Dover's historic Maison Dieu

Ever wanted to be an archaeologist? Now’s your chance to get involved in a choice of three exciting community digs at Dover's Maison Dieu led by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

The first dig takes place between 7-11 April 2022 and concentrates on an area around a blocked up medieval doorway just outside the historic Stone Hall.

It is hoped the excavations will uncover evidence of the past uses of the building as a medieval pilgrim hospital, Royal Navy victualling yard and Victorian Town Hall and prison.

A small test pit has already produced some intriguing finds, including fragments of medieval window tracery, butchered animal bone and a piece of decorated late medieval or Tudor floor tile.

The other digs take place between 25-29 July, and 8-12 September - one on a patch of grass adjacent to the nearby Biggin Hall and the other beneath a municipal flowerbed on the other side of the River Dour. Both locations were part of the wider Maison Dieu site until the early 19th century.

Participants will be offered a choice of roles - from excavating and washing finds, to engaging with visitors or running a mini-dig for families.

Volunteers are expected to commit to at least three days work and attend a briefing session on 6 April. The opportunity is open to anyone age 18 plus and full training will be given.

Young people, age 18 to 25, are particularly welcome, including those currently unemployed or looking for work experience opportunities.

If you are interested in joining The History Diggers team, please contact Martin Crowther (Maison Dieu Engagement Officer) at

Each dig will be open to the public. See for further details.

Notes to editors:

  1. The £9m reawakening of the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu will see the restoration of internationally significant decorative schemes by the renowned Victorian neo-Gothic architect, William Burges, a new street-level visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall, along with improved access throughout the building.
  2. The project creates a sustainable future for the Maison Dieu by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use, including restoring the Mayor’s Parlour as a holiday let in conjunction with The Landmark Trust, and a unique new café in the space once occupied by Victorian gaol cells.
  3. Once complete in 2024 the Maison Dieu will be permanently open to the public for the first time in its 800-year history and contributing to the creation of a heritage quarter in Dover town centre.
  4. Project funders/partners include the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, The Landmark Trust, Dover Town Council, and the Dover Society.


Maison Dieu Partners logo strip
Posted on 22 March 2022

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