Volunteering is open to anyone, but the projects are intended primarily for those in commercial archaeology who have lost their jobs or been placed on furlough. The projects do assume some basic knowledge of how commercial archaeology works in Britain. 

All of the projects involve compiling data available free online, then doing some basic analysis and writing up. 

All of the projects will be done in small teams of 5–10 people. At the start of each project, we will send you an email to introduce you to everyone in your team, and suggest how you might you work together. We expect most projects will take around three weeks—two weeks' data gathering, and one week analysing and writing up. Projects will need to be largely self-managing, but we will check in with you during the project. 


The main resources you will need to work on projects at home will be a computer with internet connection, along with Word and Excel (or freeware equivalents). The Resources page has a list of free software, along with links to databases, journals and books available online. 

On all of the project reports and databases, you will be listed as a contributor, so you get public recognition for your involvement.

If you are a member of a professional body, like CIfA or BABAO, you may be able to claim time spent on your project as Continuing Professional Development. So keep a record of your time and the activities you did.


At the end of your project, we will send you a certificate to confirm your involvement as a volunteer. 


If your employer has placed you on furlough, then you must observe several crucial conditions, as it could endanger not only your furlough pay, but also your employer's ability to claim from the government under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

Your employer will have given you a letter explaining the conditions of your furlough. Check this for details before you offer to volunteer. There will be a few conditions common to all furlough arrangements: 

  • you may not do paid work for your employer

  • you may not do paid work for any other employer 

  • you will however be allowed to undertake training

If you break any conditions in your furlough agreement, you may have to repay your furlough pay to your employer. We have aimed to offer projects that should not breach furlough, but it is your responsibility to check your employer's conditions.  

All of the projects listed on this website are for volunteers only. If you volunteer, you will not be paid, and you cannot claim for any expenses. This is not paid employment. At the end of your project, we will send you a certificate, confirming that your involvement was voluntary. 

If you volunteer, we recommend you do not use your work email—consider setting up a separate email account from a free provider like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook. ​Also, while you might be able to access resources for training purposes (like reading grey literature reports), be cautious about doing anything that could be misconstrued as 'work'.  


Use the form at the bottom of this page to register. Once we have confirmed your registration, we will send out out information on the project and your new team, as well as tips on how to run a successful project while in isolation. 

When we introduce you to your team, we will supply only your name and email address. We will not provide them with any of the other information you have provided us. 

How your team decides to communicate during the project will be up to you. We will send some advice at the start of the project. You may all be happy to communicate just through email. Or you might want to use tools like Google Hangouts, to share messages and also video conference. You might also find free video-conferencing software like Skype or Zoom useful as well (although you will need to download software to use these). 

We suggest you volunteer a minimum of an hour a day, although you are free to contribute as much time as you wish. We understand that many people also have responsibility for children and may be homeschooling. Some may be caring for others, or volunteering in their communities. And some may be searching for a new job. Do respect other people's commitments in your project team, and support them where you can. 


As well as an opportunity to participate in an archaeological project, your team is a chance to make new connections and learn new skills. Don't be afraid to ask for advice, and feel free to share experience and tips. 


Because of the large response we have received, we regret we will only be able to involve people in Britain and Ireland. We are sorry if this disappoints those elsewhere in the world, but we need to ensure projects are manageable for those taking part. 

Thanks for registering. We will be in touch shortly.


With archaeological units beginning to restart field work, and the first of our volunteers being recalled from furlough, we have decided not to take any more volunteers. Thank you for your interest. Over 100 people are currently working on our twelve online projects. 

You can still follow the progress of our project teams on the Archaeology on Furlough Facebook page