IAA project type: Partnership grant

Duration of project: August 2023 to February 2024

Partner organisation: Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust (DAPT)

Individual partner: Eleanor Sier, Head of Engagement and Interpretation

Project aims

In partnership with Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust (DAPT) and Northampton General Practice Alliance (GPA), Delapré Digs: Archaeology for Wellbeing aims to create positive well-being impacts for Northampton’s underserved communities through socially prescribed archaeological activity.

The project seeks to establish a long-term mutually beneficial partnership between MOLA and DAPT to deliver long-term wellbeing impacts for Northampton’s communities and meet local health needs and priorities.


  • Approx 12 hyper-local Northampton community members who fit the criteria for social prescribing (i.e. those with low to moderate mental health needs, suffering from loneliness or isolation and/or chronic, long-term health conditions.).
  • MOLA staff
  • Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust
  • Northampton General Practice Alliance
  • West Northamptonshire Council

Project plan

Archaeology and heritage is increasingly being used as an engagement tool to improve wellbeing of a wide range of audiences across the UK including veterans (Waterloo Uncovered, Operation Nightingale), adult citizens (Archaeology on Prescription) and young people (Project Rejuvenate). Research shows that taking part in archaeological activity can have positive psychological impact through fostered connection with others, increased knowledge, improved confidence and being physically active (e.g. Brizi et al 2023, Everill et al 2020).

At MOLA, we are embarking on a new pilot project at Delapré Abbey to improve the wellbeing of the residents of Northampton using archaeology. Delapré Digs: Archaeology for Wellbeing, in partnership with Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust (DAPT) and Northampton General Practice Alliance (GPA), will see up to twelve Northampton residents referred onto a six week programme of archaeological and creative activities. This will include a range of things such as excavation and finds processing as well as pottery making and artefact illustration. Participants will come together one day a week to learn about archaeology, discover the history of Delapré Abbey, get creative and hopefully make new friends - all fuelled by tea and cake of course!

Overall, the project seeks to contribute to the ongoing research within the sector, measuring the wellbeing impacts of engaging in archaeology on the people who take part. MOLA staff will be trained and upskilled in working with vulnerable adults in the hope that Delapré Digs can become a sustained community-led programme delivered by the MOLA Northampton Engagement Team in a long-running partnership with DAPT.