Supporting Rural Well-being Through Community Archaeology

Thousands of rural residents across Europe will take part in a community archaeology project led by the University of Lincoln.

The initiative, Community Archaeological in Rural Environments – Meeting Social Challenges (CARE MSoC), is led by Lincoln’s Professor Carenza Lewis and aims to boost community wellbeing, combining interdisciplinary research between archaeologists and psychologists to explore how making new archaeological discoveries about local history can positively impact rural inhabitants.

Participating villages across the Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Poland will locally dig and excavate hundreds of one-metre square ‘test pits’ and evaluate their findings with archaeologists.

The impact of the excavations on individuals and communities in Europe will be analysed at local, national, and international levels. The project results will be shared with heritage policymakers and practitioners by project partners including the European Archaeological Council, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, and the UK’s National Trust, and will help to shape and build future community archaeology projects in the UK and internationally.

Project lead Professor Carenza Lewis explains “I am really excited about this project because I have seen the positive impact of community test pit projects in the UK, so I am very pleased we will now be able to extend this elsewhere in Europe.”

By improving the capacity for participative public archaeology projects in rural communities to instil new skills, raise aspirations, enhance self-esteem, and extend social networks while making new discoveries about communities’ shared histories, I hope that the outcomes of this project will enrich lives and support wellbeing in rural communities across Europe for years to come.

Professor Carenza Lewis

The international project will utilise expertise from psychological, archaeological, and digital humanities specialists from across Europe, and funding is provided by four national research councils through the European Commission. The overarching objective is to help the heritage sector to improve life in rural communities.

CARE MSoC builds on similar participative public archaeology projects led by Professor Lewis in eastern England, in which local volunteers uncovered new finds revealing the impact of the Black Death while also developing new skills, knowledge, interests, connections, confidence, and aspirations for the future.

In addition, new discoveries about villages’ long-term histories on similar projects in the UK have generated wider social impacts, improving social mobility, strengthening social cohesion, enriching lives, and increasing opportunities for fulfilling locally-based voluntary activity. CARE MSoC will investigate how these wider benefits of participating in local archaeology projects can be achieved in European countries beyond the UK.

Meet the Expert

Carenza Lewis
Professor for the Public Understanding of Research


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Carenza Lewis is Professor for the Public Understanding of Research.

She combines research and teaching in archaeology, history and heritage with public engagement, with particular interests in medieval rural settlement, demography and landscape; public and community archaeology; heritage; medieval history; and childhood in the past. 

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