Get involved and discover Falkirk district's rich history with The Big Dig

There’s a chance to uncover local history this month through the Big Dig in the Falkirk area.

By Fiona Dobie
Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 4:30 pm
The Big Dig at Milton Row, Denny will be led by Geoff Bailey.  Pic: Michael Gillen.
The Big Dig at Milton Row, Denny will be led by Geoff Bailey. Pic: Michael Gillen.

The three week long festival, which coincides with Scottish Archaeology Month, begins tomorrow (Friday) and offers some archaeological fun for everyone.

The first event taking place is a dig on Milton Row, Denny, where a group, led by Geoff Bailey, the district’s keeper of archaeology and local history, searching for Victorian-era nobs’ cottages or ‘but and ben’ houses.

Geoff said: “Back in 1832 because there was a major strike over wages at the calico printfields so the owners brought in people that had been laid off in the weaving industry in Paisley.

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"They needed accommodation so he built houses, like sheds, up against his estate wall.

"It's these strike breakers houses we're digging.

"The 42nd Highlanders were brought in to keep the peace as the incomers were treated so badly.

"It’s an interesting social history site and completely different to the Roman sites we have dug.

"We’d be expecting to find proper floor levels and brick divisions. At the moment all we can still see is the big estate wall with the blocked up fire places at the bottom.

"It’s officially called Milton Row, but the locals call it Nobs Row.”

Geoff will be joined by a team to excavate the site, including some who have worked on previous digs and others who are digging for the first time.

He continued: “We’ll be taking the top off the site on Friday and then the people that haven’t dug before will start on Saturday.

"We’ll be there each day and we welcome visitors, we always do.

"Over the week, we’ll also have some local schools coming in and participating.

"Then on Saturday, September 11 when the hub event is taking place in Herbertshire Park, there’s an opportunity for members of the public to come round and have a look at the dig site and see what we have found.”

Families are also being encouraged to sign up and take part in their own dig with the Big Garden Dig each Sunday between September 12 and September 26.

To take part, people will be asked to dig a small archaeological test pit in their own back garden and record what small treasures they find.

There’s then the opportunity for an archaeologist to visit their garden by appointment to interpret their finds – whether it’s clay pipe, old coins, Roman pottery or even a Wham bar wrapper.

For those looking for something to do outdoors at the weekends with the families, there’s a chance to visit a community activity hub which will visit three local parks in the coming weeks.

On Saturday, September 11 the hub will be in Herbertshire Park (Gala Park) in Denny.

The event, which runs from 10am to 4pm, will include excavations, workshops from Archaeology Scotland, games, heritage tents, re-enactments, a medieval village and much more.

Similar events will then take place at Grangemouth’s Zetland Park the following weekend, September 18, and at Kinneil Park on September 25. For that one the Antonine Guard will also be there as the event coincides with the end of The Big Roman Week.

To find out more about the events, or to sign up to dig a test pit in your garden, visit

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