Tools of the Trade

Equipment is provided for volunteers involved in our community archaeology projects, whether excavation, field-walking or finds processing. However, for little cost, volunteers might want to consider their own mini tool kits. This can sometimes save time in waiting for some pieces of equipment to become available. Many items are readily available from stationers, supermarkets or DIY stores. Basic items listed below have a

The more ambitious and seasoned sages might consider other items available from Past Horizons Archaeology Tools »


  • Durable, supportive footwear with firm soles – no sandals or plimsolls please, heavy-tread hiking boots are not recommended as they churn surfaces
  • Gardener’s kneeling mat (or knee pads) and gloves
  • Sun hat, sun screen (high factor), and insect repellent
  • Light-weight waterproof top, over-trousers optional – check the weather forecast and dress for conditions
  • Avoid yellow clothing to avoid bugs!
  • Note, smart phones are fine but must not be used during fieldwork sessions


Writing, drawing and labeling

  • Black biro pen (not other colours please)
  • Sharpie permanent black marker for bags and labels (medium tip)
  • Pocket notebook
  • 4H (or 6H) pencil, mechanical, or with metal sharpener, and eraser
  • 15 or 30cm plastic or metal ruler (mm scale)
  • Small pair of scissors
  • A4 clipboard (with poly bag to keep it dry), and a couple of sheets of graph paper (mm) can be useful, as well as an elastic band to hold down paper if it’s breezy
  • Small roll of plastic electrician’s tape (white or yellow)


  • Metal or plastic hand tape measure, 2m or 5m
  • Nails, 6″ (two), 2″ for label pegging
  • Bulldog clips (medium with wire loop handles) – amazingly useful for virtually everything
  • Builder’s line “bubble” spirit level with string hooks, small 3″ available from DIY stores (plastic or metal), fine nylon string (line string)
  • Plummet (plumb bob) on string


  • Plasterer’s leaf (see image)
  • Medium paint brush (1 to 2″)
  • Toothbrush for finds washing (med/fine)

Keep it dry

  • Bin bag or recycling bag large enough for a back pack
  • Small tool pouch or plastic box
  • Large mechanical CAT digger with 2m toothless bucket and driver – JUST JOKING!