THERE'S the chance to dig up part of Valleyfield's fascinating past and a once glorious estate where Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott were visitors.

A five day archaeological excavation starting this week aims to uncover former stable blocks and a fountain in the woodlands next to the village.

They are part of the remains of Sir Robert Preston's magnificent mansion, Valleyfield House, and its associated buildings which stood on the historic estate designed by Sir Humphrey Repton in 1800.

The estate has all but disappeared under thick woodland and the Inner Forth Landscape (IFLI), along with AOC Archaeology, Valleyfield Heritage Project and Fife Council, are looking for local people to volunteer to uncover some of its secrets between September 7 and 11.

The foundations of the stable blocks and fountain can still be partially seen in a forest clearing and helpers will get practical experience of the excavation.

A wealthy Tory MP, Sir Robert Preston set about transforming the estate between 1801 to 1804 with the help of England’s foremost landscape designer, Sir Humphrey Repton, who was tasked with creating a romantic parkland and gardens worthy of the mansion house.

A rich and influential man, he became the Baronet of Valleyfield and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Prime Minister William Pitt and French novelist Jules Verne, who wrote Around the World in Eighty Days. while Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott visited his grand home.

The house was destroyed by fire and demolished in the 1960s, but parts of the walled garden, ornamental canal, icehouse, bridges, weirs, lodges and pineapple pits are still there.

The archaeological dig will include a geophysical survey, measured drawing, topographic survey and 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry, which will help calculate the distance between objects.

You don't need to have any prior experience to take part, just sturdy footwear and appropriate clothing, as experts from AOC will provide all the necessary guidance and equipment.

There will also be two guided heritage walks, on Thursday and Sunday, and a photography and printmaking workshop on Saturday.

All the events are free but booking is essential. For more information and to book call 01324 831568 or go to