A NORTH-East university is looking to recruit hundreds of volunteers to help take part in a community archaeology project.

Durham University has announced the ambitious project which has already been awarded a £180,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Belief in the North-East will attempt to deliver an overview of the heritage of religion in the region, from prehistory to the present.

It will be led by experts from the university’s Department of Archaeology who want to share their knowledge and skills with members of the public, whether they are amateur archaeology enthusiasts or complete newcomers to the field.

There will be a wide variety of opportunities available, including site excavation, digital photography, geophysical site mapping, recording archaeological finds, using historical archives and landscape analysis. Training and supervision from experts will be available, sometimes to undergraduate level standard.

The project will be led by Dr David Petts, an associate professor in Durham University’s Department of Archaeology.

He said: “From Neolithic rock art, through stunning medieval churches, and right to the present day, the North-East of England has a richness of religious heritage to rival anywhere in the world.

“But while many people have studied particular aspects or places, such as Lindisfarne or Durham Cathedral, no project has ever tried to capture an overview, right from prehistory to the present. That’s the task we’ve set ourselves for Belief in the North-East.

“While academic staff and students from Durham University will be closely involved, community engagement with the project will be vital if it is to succeed. Community members helped set its direction and we now need many more to join up as volunteers.

“Belief in the North-East is a fantastic opportunity to get involved in real research that has the potential to expand our understanding of our own history, as well as pick up advanced skills. Some of the training on offer to volunteers will be of undergraduate standard, delivered by expert colleagues who, like me, are passionate about sharing their knowledge with our local communities.”

The project’s academic leaders are now appealing for anyone interested to register with them.

Initial workshops will be held this summer before fieldwork is carried out between summer 2019 and summer 2020.

Final workshops are expected to take place in summer 2021, followed by a conference.

David Renwick, area director for the North of England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This is an exciting large-scale archaeology project led by Durham University that aims to recruit volunteers of all ages from across the North-East to explore the heritage of religion from early prehistory to the modern day.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, there will be lots of opportunities for communities to get involved.”

To register as a volunteer for Belief in the North East visit: beliefne.net