A new archaeology project in Yorkshire that aims to give people with disabilities the chance to take part in a dig has received a £200,000 funding boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Inclusive Archaeology Education Project, run by the Workers' Educational Association (WEA), is a three year region-wide initiative will enable 300 people who would not usually be given the chance to take part in an archaeology dig the opportunity to get out in the field, learn new skills and have fun uncovering Yorkshire's historic past.

The scheme will target a variety of groups including adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues and physical disabilities as well as those from underrepresented ethnic minority communities from across Yorkshire and the Humber. Sites expected to take part in the project include:

  • Sheffield Manor Lodge
  • The Iron Age Roundhouse at Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
  • Romano-British settlements in Chapel House Wood, Wharfedale
  • Medieval field systems in North Killingholme near the Humber
  • Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire.

The Inclusive Archaeology Education Project will involve 1,200 hours of classroom and outdoor teaching over three years. The project will start with an introduction to archaeology through practical, hands-on tasks and visits to heritage sites locally, followed by field-based activities at identified archaeological sites.

The scheme will offer participants the chance to develop key skills such as object handling and identification, using photographs, surveying and mapping, scale drawing, test pitting, finds processing and analysis, and group presentation. Rob Hindle, project manager, WEA said: "Heritage is a collective historical legacy: shaped by the totality of people inhabiting the region throughout its history, it belongs to everyone, whatever their background, experience or circumstances. This project will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that everyone can play a role in its interpretation, celebration and conservation." Fiona Spiers, head of the HLF for Yorkshire and the Humber said: "This is a fantastic and wide-reaching scheme that aims to improve access to archaeology projects for underrepresented groups. There is a myriad of benefits to be gained from getting involved in archaeology from strengthening communities to learning new skills, learning how to be part of a team to helping to uncover Yorkshire's rich history for future generations."

The scheme has been developed to meet the needs identified by the Council for British Archaeology statement that it is vital work is done 'to develop more positive action to challenge the perceptual, social or economic barriers that tend to exclude disabled people, ethnic minorities and people from economically and socially deprived areas from direct engagement in archaeology.'