What Tools, and Where to Buy Them

Just as a side note, we are in no way affiliated with the Past Horizon Tool Store, and as such we do not recieve commission and the such. In our experience however, they are the best suppliers of archaeological tools, at decent prices, and as such we highly reccomend them!

Trowel: The tool of any archaeologist. In the UK WHS 4″ Pointing Trowel is the prevailant trowel, and comes in both wooden and rubber handle, which is all down to preference! Another type of trowel is the leaf shaped trowels, which is useful for clearing small fiddly areas, such as from brickwork or around artefacts.

For students the best priced WHS 4″ Trowel is available from the Past Horizons Tool Store (PHTS), currently on offer costing £10 for students. Go here for more details:

If you are in Edinburgh the place to go is Murray’s Tool Store,  83 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8BU.  Tell them that you are an archaeology student and you will hopefully get a discount. Last check price (?early 2006) was I think c. £12

Blackwells, at the top of Infirmary Street/South Bridge is currently selling WHS 4″ archaeology trowels. Current price ca. £15

Hand Tape: Always useful on a site, but never available in abundance. Take your own and you’ll be the envy of those who have to try and borrow others. A cheap basic tape is all you need, preferably upto 3m in length. Available from all DIY shops, for a very decent price.

Line Level: Another piece of equipment that always seems to disappear when you most need it! A line level is essential for section drawings, and are available very cheaply! Make sure you purchase an aluminium one rather than a plastic one, the weight difference between them can stop that section string sagging. Again, PHTS is the best stockist:

Other equipment: For those of you heading off on your first dig, it’s best not to go overboard on tools. A standard WHS trowel and a handtape will suffice. However it is useful to have a line level, and a handful of pens and pencils, preferably with a rubber and sharpner. Once you’ve been on an excavation, you will quickly realise what else you require/is useful to have around as your own equipment. A small handshovel, a selection of string and 6″ nails, a small paintbrush or two, will become normal things to carry in your dig bag!

For more tools and equipment than you can shake a ranging rod at, check out