Archaeology at the places in our care
From insightful Roman mosaics to buried courtyards and discarded champagne bottles, the places we look after hold countless hidden stories. Find out about the archaeological surveys and research revealing their secrets and the approaches we're taking to protect them for generations to come.
Why is archaeology important?
Archaeology helps us tell the stories of the places that we care for, revealing their longer histories of use and people. Through the earthworks of lost landscapes, buildings, buried remains and artefacts, we can make connections with past communities and understand more about the lives that they led.
Discoveries and conservation at the places we look after
- Avebury, Wiltshire
- This ancient land is still revealing its secrets. In 2017, excavations on Avebury Down uncovered pits, stake-holes, stone tools, pottery fragments and other signs of occupation extending over thousands of years, from the hunters and gatherers of the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age. A geophysical survey also revealed an apparently unique square monument within a stone circle inside Avebury Henge.The history of Avebury
- Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire
- One of Chedworth's mosaics revealed a surprising new insight into Roman decline in Britain. Radiocarbon dating showed that a mosaic was created in the middle of the 5th century – it was previously believed that the luxury of the Romanised way of life didn't last beyond the economic crash at the end of the 4th century. Excavations have also uncovered bone hair pins, one of the only pieces of physical evidence that women lived in or visited the villa.Archaeological discoveries at Chedworth
- Sheringham Park, Norfolk
- Geophysical surveys have been helping to explore Howe's Hill prehistoric barrow, without needing to excavate. It's a rare and complex feature comprising a Neolithic oval barrow with a Bronze Age round barrow constructed on top of it. As part of our conservation work, we've gradually been removing Scots pine planted across the mound.Archaeology at Sheringham Park
- Trerice, Cornwall
- Volunteers in the Trerice Archaeological Research Group give their time to uncovering new finds, which helps us to better understand the Elizabethan manor house and visualise its development through history. Digs have revealed a 19th-century courtyard, a flagged floor and a tunnel deliberately blocked with rubble, which included a Tudor brick and a medieval mullion.Conservation and archaeology at Trerice
- Clent Hills, Worcestershire
- With its many lumps and bumps on the hills, and links to Roman battles and Iron Age hillforts, the Clent Hills present plenty of questions about their history. Archaeology holds some of the answers. Excavation of an early 1800s cottage has revealed fireplace features and items such as toy soldiers and egg cups. The team also spoke to one of the last inhabitants of the cottage, using oral history to enhance their finds.Our work in the Clent Hills
- Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
- Hear 'Sutton Hoo' and you'll probably think of Basil Brown and the 1939 discoveries of the Anglo-Saxon treasure trove. But archaeological discoveries continue to this day. In the early 2000s we found an Anglo-Saxon folk cemetery, and today volunteers are studying the geophysics of Garden Field. We're taking inspiration from the Anglo-Saxons in our conservation work too, using their coppicing technique to manage deciduous woodlands.Our work at Sutton Hoo
- Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
- In March 2020, archaeologists carried out a dig to understand the early development of the site as a medieval hospital and Augustinian priory. The first trench revealed the eastern wall of the chantry chapel, along with pieces of stained-glass window and a dog's skeleton. The second trench showed a cloister walkway or stair, and some rather more worldly findings – champagne bottle fragments and 18th-century kitchen scales.Archaeological dig at Anglesey Abbey
- Hod Hill, Dorset
- Thanks to the People's Postcode Lottery, Hod Hill was part of the Wessex Hillforts and Habitats Project. This has helped protect 13 scheduled monuments dating back over 2,000 years, of national importance not just for their archaeology but for their diverse, fragile habitats. The work carried out has ranged from erosion repairs to paths and ramparts, to improving fencing so that cattle and sheep can graze there. Protecting Hod Hill's archaeology and wildlife
We survey all our sites for any signs of archaeological significance, using aerial photography and expert analysis on the ground. Find out more about our work to explore remnants of the past, and why it's so important to us.
Explore archaeological highlights from the National Trust Heritage Records Online and discover more about the antiquities in our care from ancient burials to industrial landscapes.
The National Trust cares for many unique and historic landscapes across the UK. Learn more about the type of archaeological remains we look after from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.
Discover how hillfort management is helping protect both archaeology and wildlife and learn more about the Iron Age hillforts in our care.
Historical graffiti offers a valuable window into the past. From the symbols carved into castle walls to the etchings of Isaac Newton, discover the meanings behind the graffiti at the places in our care.
Follow the final journey of the Anglo-Saxon burial ship found at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, in our podcast episode, 'The last voyage'. You can also find more episodes from series seven, filled with nature and history.