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Big Heritage is an award-winning not-for-profit company specialising in heritage and education. Archaeology is at the heart of Big Heritage, providing a range of services for schools and the local community.

Dean Paton, Founder of Big Heritage, graduated from the University of Chester with a first class degree in archaeology. His passion and flare for the subject shone through during his time at university, and he was awarded prizes for his research. He later achieved an MSc in applied landscape archaeology from the University of Oxford.

"Riverside Innovation Centre was pivotal for Dean and the development of Big Heritage. The collaboration with the University of Chester provided space for the business to grow, student interns, breakout and meeting space, help from staff and of course parking in the city centre!"

— Joanne Kirton,
Head of Operations

Dean was the first entrepreneur to reside at the University of Chester's Riverside Innovation Centre. The idea for his company, Big Heritage, was inspired by his university experiences. Dean enjoyed being in an environment fused with academic creativity and wanted to share this with other people in the local community. Big Heritage was founded in 2010 to address a need to bring people in the community closer together through their shared heritage.

Being based at the Riverside Innovation Centre significantly helped Dean to grow the business. Riverside Innovation Centre provided a space for Dean to turn his goal into a reality. It was the base required to kick-start his business. Whilst at Riverside Innovation Centre, Dean also received other types of support. This included:

  • Interns from the University of Chester who worked on projects and assisted with the daily operations of the business
  • High end equipped conferencing and meeting space
  • On-site business support from the University’s Commercial Operations team based at Riverside Innovation Centre 

Dean now employs eight members of staff, and the company have moved to bigger premises in a Grade One listed building in Watergate Street, where they are looking after the building. They have opened a new attraction, Sick to Death, which they have collaborated on with Cheshire West and Chester Council, who used to have a base at the Riverside Innovation Centre.

For more information about Big Heritage, visit their website

To discuss business growth services from the University of Chester please visit: or email