Blythburgh Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2019

Our one ILAFS for 2019 and ACA’s last field school was ran over the 1st-3rd of May 2019 in the small village of Blythburgh close to the Suffolk coast. It was our 3rd year of digging test pits in the village, none of which could have been undertaken without the support and generosity of the Blythburgh Local History Society and in particular, Sonia, Alan, Meryl, Chiara and Jenny and of course the homeowners in Blythburgh who kindly let the students excavate in their gardens!

After a last-minute drop out from one school, due to a conflict, we were joined by 42 Year 8 and Year 9 pupils from Sir John Leman High School, Benjamin Britten Academy, Ormiston Denes Academy and Bungay High School, all local to East Suffolk and Blythburgh. The students were met by ACA in the Holy Trinity Church, which was our base for the two days in the village and were first given an introductory talk by ACA’s director, Alison Dickens about what to expect on the 3 days of the ILAFS programme, the process and recording of test pit excavation and the all important health and safety. After a quick break, we divided all the students into groups of three or four, with a mix of pupils from each school, as one of the aims of ILAFS is to get the students to work with people they may not know, as well as doing something that they may have never undertaken before. 
As ever, another Blythburgh regular, Rafael the cat, was also on hand to help the team, starting by inspecting the equipment! We were very lucky to have former ACA employee Emily Ryley volunteering with us again, with the Schools Liaison Officer (SLO) from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, Kathryn Singleton and ACA regular John Newman, a freelance archaeologist local to Suffolk and our pottery expert.

A total of 11 test pits were excavated in Blythburgh in 2019 and sited across the village, which with the previous excavations, brings the total number of pits dug there to 36. All the previous results and this years, can be seen on the ACA website here. Blythburgh is a very interesting settlement with a long history, the name means ‘stronghold on the River Blyth‘, taken from the name of the river Blyth that meant ‘the gentle or pleasant one‘ and the Old English word for burh to mean a defended or fortified settlement. The village was recorded in the Domesday Book as Blideburgh and had its origins during the Middle Anglo Saxon period as an important religious centre and one of the richest churches in the county. A Priory was also founded here during the 12th century for the Augustinian Canons.

With the excavations underway in the sunshine, a number of different finds were revealed through the 2 days of excavation. TP1 at the Knoll, just outside the churchyard, revealed a track or road way running parallel to the church, but was identified at a relatively shallow depth, so was not too old in date. The oldest pottery recorded, dated from the Middle Anglo-Saxon (AD 700-850) from two test pits, 3 and 9, adding to the previously recorded Middle Saxon pottery found through the test pitting strategy and likely represents activity associated with the priory founded here at that time.

Test pit 2, along Church Lane, found a clay pipe bowl, which in itself is not unusual, but this particular clay smoking pipe had an image of Tom Sayers, a bare-knuckle fighter, born in Brighton in 1826 and took part in one of the ‘fights of the century’ against American John Heenan, which after a staggering 37 rounds, the fight was declared a draw! One sherd of pottery also from TP 2, also dating to the 19th century,  has a partial inscription which is legible a ‘FIGH’ which can be finished as fight or fighter so it’s highly likely that a mid-19th century boxing enthusiast lived here!

We are beginning to see a pattern in the distribution of the high medieval (AD 1066-1399) pottery from Blythburgh, with a large amount being recovered each side of the road close to the river and the rest of the focus of settlement to the south of the 12th century priory. The face sherd from a German stoneware bellarmine jug of 16th-17th century date and a shield decoration from a similar stoneware jug were both recorded from TP 11, perhaps an indication of trade links to the continent, or a local resident with mercantile connections.

All the pupils worked very hard over the two days of excavation, nearly managing to dodge all the showers as well and were looking forward to travelling to Cambridge for the day 3 of the ILAFS programme.

On the 3rd day, all the students and staff travel to the University of Cambridge to get a sense about University and learn more about higher education in general. The first session of the day is delivered as a university style lecture, so a very new way of learning to these Year 8 and 9’s! Emma Brownlee, PhD student at Cambridge, delivered the morning lecture encouraging the pupils to think about what they have found over the last couple of days and how they relate to the bigger picture of the development of Blythburgh.

An objective for after the ILAFS, is for each participant to complete a write up of their own excavation results. Emma Brownlee also guided the students on how to produce a good written report, a valuable skill as coursework is no longer included in GCSE’s and will give these pupils an opportunity to try out their writing skills and have detailed feedback and an overall grade returned to them.

The students also got to experience their potential futures, with a tour and lunch at one Cambridge College, and experiencing what life as a student is like. The visit to a college for lunch and a tour make a big impression on the students and the visit to St Catharine’s and Peterhouse were no exception. Seeing how students live and work whilst at university is often better than just being told about what its like and can make the ILAFS pupils think about their futures at a much younger age. This was picked up on when they had a talk from St Catharine’s School Liason Officer (SLO), Kathryn Singleton, who had also accompanied the pupils for the two days before hand in the field. Kathryn took the group through some of the different routes and pathways you can take at university and beyond and also what the pupils can do now for themselves. Being informed about university, even before their GCSE’s is important, as this will aid in their decision making process about their futures.

The students also got to understand and study other finds and how they relate to the bigger picture of the settlement as a whole, with a visit to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, led by Jenny Williams. The students produced some great posters detailing what the artefacts from a particular place can tell us about different aspects of the society they are from, the aim being to link this practical activity as another aid in the pupil’s own report writing.

The residents of Blythburgh were all impressed with how the pupils behaved and took to this new challenge and everyone appreciated the delivery of cake to every test pit site, by the Blythburgh History Society! Archaeology is not a career for everyone, but the range of skills learnt on the ILAFS programme, will certainly help inform the youngsters who took part about all their post-16 education options and that each and every one of them, if they want to and work for it, can get into the University of Cambridge!

IMG-20190501-WA0008

Thank you again to everyone involved for making this another brilliant excavation and ILAFS. Perhaps we can come back again next year…..

 

Bunwell Independent Learning Archaeology Field School (ILAFS)

 

Our first excavations in the parish of Bunwell in south Norfolk were undertaken over the 23rd-24th of May 2018 with the final day, the 25th, a non-digging day, the students travelled into Cambridge to visit and learn more about university. A total of 40 Year 9 and Year 10 students from Old Buckenham High School, Thetford Academy and the Hobart High School excavated 10 test pits in two separate areas, one around the church and primary school and the other at Great Green.

The test pit locations were found with the help from the Bunwell Heritage Group and its secretary David Neale in particular, who was also on site during the excavations for additional support with Peter Day.

Bunwell itself is a large parish that includes the hamlets of Bunwell Hill, Bunwell Street, Low Common, Great Green and Little Green, just over 7km east of Attleborough and 18.6km southwest of Norwich.  The long linear settlement along Bunwell Street is the largest of all these areas, set in flat open countryside, whereas the hamlets of Bunwell Hill and Low Common, set further to the south, are along the valley of the River Tas. The B1113 runs through the centre of the parish, connecting New Buckingham to Norwich, close to which sits the 15th century church of St Michael and All Angels’. The name Bunwell derives from Old English and was recorded as Bunewell in 1198 that likely means ‘spring or stream where reeds grow’. The settlement was not recorded in the Domesday Book although evidence for Anglo Saxon occupation has already been recorded from the parish. Previous test pit excavations by ACA have been undertaken in the neighbouring parish of Carleton Rode, the results of those excavations can be found here. www.access.arch.cam.ac.uk/reports/norfolk/carleton-rode

 

Day 1 and the students were full of energy to get started- but so they could focus that energy in the right direction we started with an introduction talk in the village hall by ACA’s archaeologist Cat Collins, explaining the details of the ILAFS programme, some history of the settlement and what is expected from the students on the three days they are out of school. After a quick break with time for Emily Ryley (on her last ever ILAFS) to brief all the supervisors, including a couple of 6th formers getting some great leadership experience but also three PhD students from Cambridge University. Then it was time for the students to collect their equipment and head out to site to dig.

The students got down to the task and had the turf off quickly; the students proved to be hard-workers, with all teams excavating at least 3 contexts (30cm) of soil before the end of the day. They learn how to use new tools and techniques (especially the mattock), how to plan and coordinate their work as a team, and thought imaginatively about their finds to understand what they could tell us about Bunwell’s past. Three of the test pits found burnt flint. These are stones that had been used by neolithic people as a way of heating their meals or water, by placing the stones in the fire to heat, then placing them in the water- a technique that boils water faster than a modern kettle! They can be recognised by the ‘crackled’ surface on the rocks. These were found in the upper layers of the test pit, showing there had been some turning over of the soil layers. There had indeed, with some of the test pits having to battle through layers of rubble and refuse from buildings- it’s all still evidence of human activity though! They were rewarded for their efforts, finding some great things. Highlights included a bone die! And even a small section of false human teeth!

On Day 2 of the excavations, we were joined by John Newman, pottery expert who helped identify the finds. There were less of them than last week, but there were still three test pits who found medieval pottery. It’s always exciting to be the one that finds something several hundred years old! The other reason there was less to find was that many of the test pits hit the natural geology by lunch time on day 2, and all excavated to natural by the end of the day- a first for ILAFS! This means we can be confident that were weren’t any older find lurking beneath where the students were digging that we might have missed, which is great. It also meant that those groups who had finished a little early, could help those still finishing off and we were able to get everyone away at a reasonable time.

DSC_0304

After two days of digging, the students had a good grasp on what it means to be an archaeologist and had also learnt a lot about working together, recording data and identifying objects. Day 3 is about translating these skills into world of Higher Education and showing how they are central to students now. Day 3 of the field school is designed to show them how students at university transform data into concrete knowledge. First then, the students had a lecture from Emma Brownlee, a PhD student at the university. This takes in all stages of writing a report starting with the background of how the settlement developed. Students will need to find out what we already know about the village and understand the influencing factors that might help reflectively explain the evidence we find. Presenting the data is next, and clarity is important here if the students work is to become part of our own archaeological records.  Transforming this data into an interpretation of the past is tricky for many as it requires imagination while also basing those interpretations on evidence. Taking their conclusions further, can we say how our evidence fits in with wider changes happening in the country at the time?

Lunchtime and the students got treated to a lovely lunch at St Catherine’s College and Downing college. The colleges can be very grand, especially when students are used to comparing the great hall to their school canteen, but we were given a very friendly welcome by the students who later took the students on a tour around the college so they could see the facilities and get a sense of what it was like ot live there. Seeing the bar, common room, library and other spaces allows them to really understand what it might be like ot live away from home one day.

Continue reading

Rickinghall and Botesdale Independent Learning Archaeology Field School (ILAFS) 2018

Our second dig of the year and are in Rickinghall and Botesdale. Originally separate with Rickinghall being first recorded in the Doomesday book, and Botesdale appearing in 12th century records, the two villages have since grown together over the years. This is our second year excavating here after a successful dig last year, which you can read about here. Once again the local history group supported us in our dig, and we also had the support of two volunteers from Cambridge.

32 pupils from King Edward VI school and St Benedict’s school joined us and arrived eager to start the day. An introductory talk explained to the students how they should go about excavating, but also very importantly, the concepts and ideas that determine why we do archaeology and influence how we interpret what we discover. We know something of the village from historical records, but how will the student’s discoveries in the village change our understanding? The great thing about doing test pits is that we can really get inside the heart of the village to answer these questions.

29468252_1599662810110328_2607083240736948224_n

Test pits were nicely spaced out along the length of the village, giving us a good spread to see how different areas of the village have changed. In some places we were very close to where we had excavated last year and it would be interesting to see the difference. With directions from a supervisor, the students set out laden with their equipment to begin digging! The first context always takes the most time but the students had clearly been listening in the morning talk as they laid out the test pit clearly and recorded it accurately. Test pit 1 had a slightly more difficult time, being the furthest away from the base and they also encountering many roots as they excavated. However we were interested to see what we would find in this area as the test pit was opposite the toll house at one end of the village. Further down the street and test pit 2 were bringing up a lot of material, mainly recognisably Victorian and later but it’s always exciting to find objects that you can recognise yourself! At the other end of the village, nearby the co-op Test Pit 8 were excavating in a property which records have shown dates back to around the 15th Century. After their first couple of contexts, the group came down upon a cobbled flint floor- a great feature to find! After recording the floor layer, they continued through it, to understand the date it was laid down. Judging from the pottery it was probably 19th or 18th Century, and there appeared to be a sandy layer beneath. Either another floor or the base of this one. The students had made some great progress on Day 1, buoyed on by the warm spring weather, and went home satisfied with their efforts.

Day 2 and the expert eye of John Newman cast his eye over the pottery finds from the test pits. Confirming that we found our first find of medieval pottery! It’s always exciting for the pupils to find anything from the past themselves, and having an expert like John can help them connect the objects they find with real people and real lives from the past. This is the first taste of archaeology many of the students have had, and certainly the first time they have had a chance to discover artefacts for themselves. It has a big impression and we will look forward to hearing their thoughts and interpretations when they submit with written work. Test pit 4 actually found a huge amount of medieval pottery, which is currently being analysed by Paul Blinkhorn before the report is put up on our website here. Test pit 4 worked very well together and managed to excavate a whole meter down! The upper levels were full of interesting things- like these brass fire tongs, a 1950’s Airfix model and green bottles. A large amount of 13th and 14th Century pottery was found too, some of the earliest we had from the village.  Although we know the records of this village go back further, it is interesting to see what the limits are of the physical evidence. To leave something for future archaeologists to find, Test Pit 4 buried a time capsule of their own at the bottom of their test pit! It included notes from the pupils, a recent coin, some information about ACA and even a BBC microbit! Hopefully something from this collection will survive for future archaeologists to discover and understand why this meter square of land has been disturbed.

After two days of digging, the students had a good grasp on what it means to be an archaeologist and had also learnt a lot about working together, recording data and identifying objects. Day 3 is about translating these skills into world of Higher Education and showing how they are central to students now. Day 3 of the field school is designed to show them how students at university transform data into concrete knowledge. First then, the students had a lecture from Emma Brownlee, a PhD student at the university. This takes in all stages of writing a report starting with the background of how the settlement developed. Students will need to find out what we already know about the village and understand the influencing factors that might help reflectively explain the evidence we find. Presenting the data is next, and clarity is important here if the students work is to become part of our own archaeological records.  Transforming this data into an interpretation of the past is tricky for many as it requires imagination while also basing those interpretations on evidence. Taking their conclusions further, can we say how our evidence fits in with wider changes happening in the country at the time?

Students work is all part of the wider archaeological record, and a trip to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology enforces this. The students enjoyed the session and were able to explore other objects and what they could tell us about settlements. Seeing the wider collections in the anthropology gallery showed them just how broad studies can be, and all the different places in the world Higher Education could take them.  The students really enjoyed being able to investigate the museum but also have a wonder around at their own pace. “I enjoyed finding out more about the local area and it was really good finding things. It was also interesting going to the University of Cambridge and going to the museum.” DS St Benedict’s High School

The other side to the day is the experience of university in general. The skills we teach the students can be applied to many different subjects and coming to Cambridge show them all the different subject they could study and ways in which they can learn. Touring either Queens or Emmanuel college showed them how students manage their own work and think for themselves, just as they have been doing for the past two days on the dig. A talk from Robinson SLO Eleanor Humphreys also gave the students about how they can take the next steps to realise their own dreams. The pupils themselves were questioning why they needed to know about university, when they hadn’t even chosen their GCSE options yet. We believe this a is a critical time for pupils however, to enthuse them about their future so that they set themselves on the right path to achieve later. It certainly had that impact on some of the pupils. “I feel like I have been guided about my education and inspired to work hard.” AE St Benedict’s High School. “I feel I have gained a lot of knowledge from the field school. I have tried something new which I really enjoyed and have had reassurance about university and its aspects.” NF King Edward VI School

TP 1h

“I feel the Field School has improved my communication and leadership skills, as well as making me consider my future education life. I have gained a lot of knowledge and a love for the subject of history.” FR King Edward VI School. “I think I have learnt how we can interpret finds to gain knowledge about the past and I understand how universities operate much more than I did before.” NP King Edwards VI School.

Foxearth Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2017

It’s the last of your Independent Learning Archaeology Field Schools before we break for the summer! 32 students from Thomas Gainsborough School, Samuel Ward Academy and Ormiston Sudbury Academy arrived in Foxearth on Monday ready to see first-hand how we can understand the past when no records remain to tell us. Foxearth is a small village in North Essex, just south of the River Stour that forms the border with Suffolk and is 2.8km southwest of Long Melford and 4.7km northwest of Sudbury as the crow flies. The village sits on a geology of Chalk with superficial deposits of a chalky till with sands and gravels, clays and silts. The name Foxearth literally means ‘the fox’s earth’ or ‘the fox hole’ and was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Focsearde. The parish church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul is of uncertain date, but some aspects of the structure have been dated to the mid-14th century. Brewing has also been an important part of Foxearth’s history.

Cat Collins, Archaeological Supervisor at ACA welcomed the mixed year 9, 10 and 12 students, explaining how the next three days would work practically, and also what the pupil’s could hope to achieve. The ILAFS programme is designed to inspire pupils on to higher education, by giving them the skills to take control of their own learning, giving them an experience of learning outside the classroom and boosting their confidence by seeing themselves achieve at a task completely new to them. The Day 1 talk sets them up for this, by explaining not only the practical skills of excavations, but also the key ideas to start interpreting the archaeology they discover. When a student find their first piece of pottery, or fragment of metalwork, we try to get them to think about what it could mean more widely. Where was the object made? What can it tell us about trade, status, access routes, in the past? Was this an agricultural, or manufacturing area? How has the natural landscape influenced the activities in the area?

There was plenty to find in Foxearth and find it we did! As ever, Day 1’s finds were more modern, but still plenty of 17th and 18th Century pottery coming up. Test Pit 5 and 6 in particular had a lot of material as they were on the site of the old brewery in Foxearth. They found plenty of broken bottles with the name of the brewery on them as well as building materials. Quite a lot is known about the brewery and it is great to be able to link physical artefacts to historical events. A 6th form students from Ormiston Sudbury was supervising the students on Test Pit 5 so it was also a great experience for him- leading his own excavation as he prepares to apply to university to study ancient History and archaeology. Test pit 1 also produced more modern 18th and 19th century pottery, and even though the students reached 70cm down, the context remained very consistently modern. Being very close to the church, there has been a lot of activity in this area for a very long time so it’s not surprising that the team didn’t hit natural. The same held true for test Pit 2, across the road opposite the old school house with a few pieces of medieval pottery. Test pit 3 produced a wealth of great finds- the cherry on the top being a sherd of saxo-norman pottery! The students were amazed that they themselves had discovered something about 1000 years old! The test pit was located at the crossroads, right at the heart of the village in the front garden of a house that had previously been a shop. Centuries of use in the area had left a wealth of objects to find, including a large amount of clay pipes. Test pit 4 a little way along the street in an area that is now a paddock found a different type of finds. Mainly modern pottery but also slag- evidence of metal or glass production at this site. Perhaps there was once a blacksmith in this area? Or maybe glass works for the brewery nearby. Further research by the students for their reports will hopefully put these finds into context. A little way along the road again and we had another complete change at Test Pit 7 where students came down on to an early medieval cobbled surface, beneath which late saxon Thetford Ware was found! Only modern houses occupy this end of the village, but it obviously has a much deeper history. It was also the test pit closest to our base, an 18th century tythe barn next door to a late 13th century moated hall. While the settlement of Foxearth has been around for a long time, but has changed and shifted in that time. The students archaeological excavations will continue to reveal that history to us.

The third day of ILAFS is always spent in Cambridge, pulling together the students’ knowledge and ideas in preparation for writing their reports but more importantly giving them a taste of what it is like to learn and live at university. A clear, set out talk on how to write in an academic style is very valuable as as GCSE coursework has now been dropped. This is one of the few opportunities students have to write and gain feedback on a long piece of their own research, prior to A levels. It’s also really important to finish as it demonstrated when applying to universities that the student has not just passively viewed something, but actively engaged in a topic, and seen a difficult project right through to the end. The lecture by Eoin Parkinson is also a taste of what university style learning is like.

Reinforcing the morning’s lecture was an afternoon visit to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology where pupils were given a task to examine the museum’s collections and then present to the others, what they could learn about that culture’s settlements and resources from the collections. For instance, one team were show the Roman Cambridge collection and were able to reflect both on local industries, and trade from across the Roman region. Another looked at the Indus valley in asia and discuss religious beliefs and settlement patterns there. It’s really great to be able to give pupils something to focus on in their visit, and demonstrate that they skills they learnt over the last two days can be applied to any body of data.

While we do archaeological excavations on the ILAFS programme, we want to try and encourage our students to consider any subject at Higher Education. Archaeology just happens to be a great way of bringing together many skills and also highlighting the practical side of learning. It also shows students that university is not like school- there are many, many more subjects one can study. Expounding on these ideas Claire Nellany, Schools Liaison Officer at Girton College, gave the students their final talk, answering more general questions about university. Having visited Peterhouse and Trinity colleges for lunch, they had also got to see the other side of university- the social side which can be just as important to allow students to develop and discover new ideas and interests.

The three days have obviously had a big impact on the students.  “I felt that I have gained a more in depth understanding of archaeology, university and what it offers.” TW Ormiston Sudbury Academy. I just really enjoyed all of it and I loved being able to learn the dates of what we found. I think I am now better at analysis and working in a team.” LB Thomas Gainsborough School. Teachers agreed saying “Very good experience in team-work. They learnt to use different methods/ techniquies to learn about the past.” AG Ormiston Sudbury Academy.

The aims of the ILAFS was nicely summed up by one student: “I enjoyed learning about the university life and it made me think about going to university as it opened my eyes about life after school.” NG Thomas Gainsborough School

 

Many thanks to Carl Talbot for organising the schools and to John Newman for identifying the pottery on site. A big thank you to the team of volunteers from the Stour Valley Community Archaeology group for their help, especially Corrine Cox. If you would like to know more about her work in Foxearth, head here.

 

That’s it for field schools for the summer, but we’re going to be running two more ILAFS in September when the students return to school. Over the summer we’ll be catching up on paperwork but we’ll keep you informed about any potential future projects and news.

Healing Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2017

Last week burning sun, this week downpours. It seems that every time we are in Lincolnshire it has been wet! Back in May were were digging in Old Clee and now we are in the village of Healing, near Grimsby again with year 9 students from Ormiston Maritime Academy. The North East Lincolnshire Archaeology and History Society were back again to help us and had arranged 7 test pit sites for us, in locations on Low Road, Rookery Road, Aylesby Lane and at Healing Manor.

gfh1911

With a sense of déjà vu we awaited the arrival of 27 students from Ormiston Maritime Academy. It had been raining hard all night and so although that meant the ground would be soft to dig, it might put several of them off. However the pupils of Lincolnshire are made of stern stuff and most of the students did arrive. The morning’s briefing by Alison Dickens outlined the importance of careful excavation and maintaining clear archaeological records, which also means keeping them dry. There are many challenges in archaeology! More importantly the talk also tries to show the students that their work can uncover much more than knowledge about their individual test pit. By comparing the test pits we can see how the village has changed and moved over time, getting a snapshot of industries and processes, confirming settlement areas versus agricultural uses of the land. More widely we can compare villages to one another. Do all settlements follow the same pattern? Do events such as the black death or industrial revolution affect settlements in the same way? When we could hide from the rain no-longer the students braved the elements and set out to discover the past of Healing.

Soon after Emily, Cat and Alison set out too, touring the test pits, checking how students were progressing and giving encouragement and direction were needed. The test pits were each supervised by a member of staff from Ormiston Maritime Academy or volunteers from the NELAH society, although the students were quick to take to a new task. It had been raining hard all night and continued to do so all day. Working with the extra challenge was difficult but the students did their best and by the end of Day 1 had all finished their second context and had the techniques of how to dig and record. Keeping the record booklets dry was a challenge so students chose the sensible option and came back early to the base to copy up their records and warm up with a cup of tea.

On Day 2 of the dig, the sun dawned, if not brighter, then at least drier, as while it was still raining it wasn’t quite a hard. We like to take the optimistic viewpoint. We were joined by Jane Young, a local pottery expert. Who gave the students a brief talk on different types of pottery, showing them some examples of whole pots. It really helps when we can demonstrate to students in a visual way, how their small finds are real pieces of the past. Our pottery finds from Lincolnshire were quite small as it was very difficult to spot things in the dark, heavy clays of Lincolnshire! Teams had to abandon using the sieves to catch small finds and go through it with their hands. We did make some discoveries however with test pits 3 and 7 brining up some possible medieval brick. Handmade bricks are very different to our modern bricks and were often made locally in the same way for hundreds of years. As Test Pit 3 is now a field, this gives us a clue that the medieval settlement of healing was in a different position to the current settlement. Test Pits 4 and 5 were located in the garden of a large house and the discovery of a seemingly undisturbed medieval layer suggests that this area has not been cultivated for a very long time, but has has a fairly consistent use. If the area had been disturbed we would have expected to see much small, broken pieces of pottery, rather than the large pieces in a clear soil context that we found. Other Test Pits found butchered bones, fragments of shell and other evidence of occupation. We were given a warm welcome by the people of Healing and the students enjoyed themselves despite the rain!

After all their hard work, the students deserved their day exploring Cambridge. It’s a long journey down but we hope it is worth it to inspire these pupils to achieve the very best they can. As a Russell Group university is very outward looking in it’s approach to learning, producing research that is used across the world in to understand and develop products, services and impact many people’s lives. While ACA focuses on archaeological knowledge, the skills that the students learn on the ILAFS programme are transferrable to many different subjects and work areas. Skills such as communication, structuring their own work, achieving aims by effort and persistence and working cooperatively. All are highly useful in the workplace. The written report the students produce as part of the programme reinforces the academic skills which are also of use no matter where students decide to go. Gathering and comparing different types of data, interpreting and judging that evidence to produce a clear and technical report is a skill that will always come in handy. This was all explained in the morning lecture, given by Eoin Parkinson, phD students at the department.

At lunchtime the students went to Trinity or Gonville & Caius colleges both for a tasty hot lunch and to see how university students live. Cambridge is quite different to many universities being based throughout the town and having a college system rather than one central campus. Some of the students loved the ‘Harry Potter’ vibe of the colleges with their old buildings and portraits of old masters. But it’s also the atmosphere of the colleges- collective bodies of students working together and being a family. We talked about what it would be like to live here, and what some people liked, what others didn’t. It helped that the rain held off too.

After lunch we were at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, putting into practise those ideas that were given in the morning’s lecture. It was a fun time, looking at the medieval and roman settlements in Cambridge as well as the Indus and Mayan civilisations. It’s all the same archaeological skills no matter when and where you look! Finally to round off the day and reinforce the message, the students had a talk from Emma Smith, Schools Liaison Officer at Homerton college. The skills that the students have learnt over the last three days and that they will demonstrate in their reports could take them anywhere they wish to go. Hopefully a little bit of guidance at this early stage will put them on that path. Teachers accompanying the students felt they had most benefited from learning the skills of teamwork, knowledge of a top university and perseverance. “The whole experience was really beneficial. Students and I really enjoyed it.” LB. Students said they had gained “Experience of how to do archaeology and what university is about. Knowing that I found pottery from Germany.” LK “I gained a lot of information about the subject and what it is like at the University of Cambridge.” CS. Students said they particularly enjoyed getting outside, learning more about university and gaining self confidence

We would like to say a big thank you to the North East Lincolnshire Archaeology and History Society and Sarah Leadley from Ormiston Maritime Academy who did much to organise the last three days. We hope you enjoyed it!

19510156_1359090094167602_6561682278072836384_n

East Rudham Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2017

In this kind of hot and humid weather it’s just as hot inside as outside and so why not get digging?! 39 pupils as well as 11 6th form students and their teachers joined us for a two- day dig at East Rudham. Students came from Fakenham Academy, Alderman Peel High School, Cromer Academy, Litcham High School and Thomas Clarkson Academy and were all a credit to their schools, displaying determination to dig as well as making insightful remarks about the history of the village and the archaeological process.

We were again based at St Mary’s Church and we were very grateful for it’s medieval air conditioning system (read: thick stone walls). Alison Dickens, manager of Access Cambridge Archaeology welcomed the mixed year 9, 10 and 12 students, explaining how the next three days would work practically, and also what the pupil’s could hope to achieve. The ILAFS programme is designed to inspire pupils on to higher education, by giving them the skills to take control of their own learning, giving them an experience of learning outside the classroom and boosting their confidence by seeing themselves achieve at a task completely new to them. The Day 1 talk sets them up for this, by explaining not only the practical skills of excavations, but also the key ideas to start interpreting the archaeology they discover. When a student find their first piece of pottery, or fragment of metalwork, we try to get them to think about what it could mean more widely. Where was the object made? What can it tell us about trade, status, access routes, in the past? Was this an agricultural, or manufacturing area? How has the natural landscape influenced the activities in the area?

This is the second time we have dug in East Rudham and our 10th ILAFS of the year. The previous report can be found here. A map showing where this year’s test pits were located can be found there- most were group in a field close to a medieval moated site and within sight of another church in the village. A 6th form student from Fakenham Academy supervised each test pit, helping students to organise themselves, stepping in to motivate the team and assessing the younger students. These are all very valuable skills to have in the workplace and at university and is a highly useful experience to have when writing their university applications in the next few months. Teachers and members of the ACA team also toured the village checking in on students and giving the benefit of their archaeological knowledge. Despite the incredible heat on Day 1 the teams were soon discovering finds for the first time and by the end of Day 1 we already had a number of test pits who had found medieval pottery. All the test pits were close by to known areas of anglo-saxon settlement so it would be interesting to see if they found supporting evidence. Jo Stone, our Beacon School co-ordinator was very excited when she spotted a lovely piece of 11th century pottery which included a thumbprint, part of the decoration of the pot it came from. Another test pit found the complete end of a clay pipe which by its size probably dates to the 17th century. Other interesting finds included a button, coins and building materials which together suggest changing uses of the area as it is now a field and was previously common land. I will look forward to reading the student’s reports interpreting their findings.

The third day of ILAFS is always spent in Cambridge, pulling together the students’ knowledge and ideas in preparation for writing their reports but more importantly giving them a taste of what it is like to learn and live at university. A clear, set out talk on what to write is very valuable as as GCSE coursework has now been dropped, this is one of the few opportunities students have to write and gain feedback on a long piece of their own research, prior to A levels. We hope that the skills they learn from completing the report will stay with them, and give them an advantage when working independently. At this age is it easy to see GCSEs- your first big exam – as completely deciding your future but hopefully we can show the students that there is life beyond year 11. Archaeology won’t be for many of them, but hopefully the skills they learnt of motivating others (despite rain and clay soils), planning their work and time and academic skills will give them a great start to their futures. During lunch at Clare college, a member of the admissions team for Cambridge there highlighted to the students how much of a useful experience ILAFS is. It demonstrates to universities that you have not just passively been along on a trip, but taken it through to completion, putting in much time and effort to achieve that. Trinity and Christ’s colleges also took students for lunch and a tour so that ILAFS pupils could see how university students live as well as work.

 

After lunch, while the younger students were at their session in the museum, Emma Smith, Schools Liaison Officer at Homerton College took the year 12 students for a session designed for them. Together they looked at personal statements, working through examples and pointing out areas which are of interest to universities. Personal Statements are a key part of the admissions process but for many it is the first time they have had to ‘sell themselves’ and their skills. Pointers on what to highlight are therefore useful, not only for UCAS applications but also in job applications.

DDADrw-XoAAdEY2

 

Being in the surroundings of the University of Cambridge also hopefully inspires the students who are just deciding their futures. We had some great feedback from the students for this session which we try to offer to any older ILAFS participant. “I enjoyed the personal statement session as it gave great insight into the types of criteria universities look for in this part of the application.” GG Fakenham College. “I have gained and developed skills that will help me to show evidence of these skills such as leadership and verbal communication skills as well as working successfully in a team.” MK Fakenham college.

Younger students were just as positive about their experience. “It was informing and very helpful in terms of helping me decide my future.”CY Litcham High School. “I really enjoyed visiting the university. It really inspired me to work even harder so I might one day study here. … Thanks to the staff for a brilliant experience!” L, Cromer Academy. “[I learnt] that there is more to university than I thought.” JD Thomas Clarkson Academy

 

Staff highlighted “how by mixing up students from different schools, the students learned how to work quickly and effectively with others, a valuable skill for the workplace.” JS Fakenham Academy. The Field School “also increased their confidence and ability to learn new skills and work independently” (KH Litcham School). Many thanks to Jo Stone from Fakenham for organising the schools to come on the trip and thank you to all the staff and students who came!

19399787_1351986134877998_1214609891041862524_n

North Warnborough Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2017

From Lincolnshire two ILAFS ago, Essex last week, ACA get all round the country and this week we’re in Hampshire! 36 enthusiastic pupils from The Costello School, Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College and Robert May’s School joined us to excavate 9 test pits across North Warnborough for the 5th consecutive year. We are by now getting a fairly good understanding of the history of North Warnborough and data from the previous excavations can be found here.  The pits were organised by John Champion and other members of The Odiham Society. The Mill House pub proved a wonderful base for the two days of excavation.

The students arrived keen to participate, and keen to get out and active having just completed their exams. Archaeology however isn’t just digging a hole in the ground and seeing what you find, so first they needed the process explained to them by Alison Dickens. The planning, recording and measuring needed to excavate well can seem tedious to some pupils, but is vital so that we can produce comparable results whether we are in Lincolnshire or Hampshire. Fully informed, the students were then grouped into teams of 4, headed up by a teacher, and sent out to their test pits. The 9 test pits were spread along the length of the village Right up North Warnborough Street, Dunley’s hill and on Bridge Road.

Previous finds in the village have given us a fairly good idea of what we might find. However there were still some surprises. During the afternoon of Day 1 a button was found and after deciphering the writing on it and some  brief research w discovered that that button could only have been manufactured in Birmingham between 1900 and 1928. This type of buttons were used on military uniforms and we therefore think it quite likely that it may have come off the uniform of a first world war soldier from North Warnborough. Archaeology can also inform us about recent event. In comparison, test pit 3 had some burnt flints which could be over 5,000 years old. These had been used by neolithic people as a way of heating their meals or water, by placing the stones in the fire to heat, then placing them in the water- a technique that boils water faster than a modern kettle!

Ginny Pringle was on hand on Thursday to give a local expert’s eye on the pottery that we were discovering and try and pin down the date of some of the finds. She is the chair of CBA Wessex and the Basingstoke Archaeological & Historical Society (BAHS), and has done similar work to ACA’s at Old Basing, close to North Warnborough. There she is building a fabric series for the finds and is compiling the final report. As pottery can be so closely dated, it allows us to build up a picture of how the village has grown and changed. Associated artefacts in the same context might give us clues about the industries and activities in the village during those times. Medieval pottery and floor tile was found in several of the test pits and the full pottery report will be available here. We also found some more unusual finds; it quite literally rained cats and dogs in North Warnborough this year as we found bones from at least4 different dogs and a whole cat skeleton. The cat skeleton was probably somewhere over 20 years old, having been buried in the flower bed. However the dog bones were discovered at a fairly deep layer and had turned black, having been lying in a waterlogged area which had once been a pond. There were lower jaw bones from at least four dogs and other bones as well. Over the two days the students worked very well and had some great insights into how the history of North Warnborough could be understood.

 

After a very early start, the students arrived in Cambridge for Day 3 of the ILAFS programme. This is where the morning was taken up by a lecture looking at the study of settlements and guidance on writing their reports given by Emily Ryley, ACA Administrator. The students felt they were much more prepared for the demands of university level work after the lecture which guides them through how to write and submit a report covering the aims, methods and results of their test pit excavations. After marking and grading, all students receive a certificate of participation and an assessment of their data collection as well as personal, learning and thinking skills during the two days spent excavating, along with detailed feedback on their written report, if submitted. Writing the report also gives an excellent practice at writing coursework, developing those skills which they will rely on at A-level and university.

At lunchtime the schools were hosted by Peterhouse and Corpus Colleges. The students really enjoyed their visit to the colleges commenting: “I really enjoyed everything! I particularly liked seeing Peterhouse college, the library, eating lunch as if I was a student and learning so much about archaeology, digging and the university.” EM Robert May’s School. The group also filled the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the afternoon. They were given an exercise relating to the points on settlement history discussed in the morning, and asked to use the museum’s collections to discover what they could learn about the settlements represented in the collections. This involved thinking about some of the same questions they had used to examine their own finds; where did the pottery come from, what could it tell us about trade links, what was the land used for, was it valuable land?

The final session of the day was with Caitlin Saunders , the new Schools Liaison Officer at Peterhouse college who gave the year 9 students a talk on their potential university and later careers. While this might seems a little premature it is very helpful to start introducing these ideas early. Not only does it help focus pupils by giving them an aim, they can also start to build relevant experience and make sensible choices that will open doors for them in later life.

 

Staff appreciated the different learning environment ILAFS provides as well as the wider perspectives it can give.. “This has been another excellent dig. The school and students are really appreciative of the experience and opportunity. THANKS!!” DP, Robert May’s School “ A chance to learn in a completely different environment. A brilliant opportunity to learn how to work together and support one another.” CC, Costello School

 

Students enjoyed learning independently, setting and achieving a challenge and working with new people. “It was nice to mix with other schools we hadn’t previously met . Also it was nice digging in someone’s garden … as it was interesting to meet the locals.” RH CBEC. “I enjoyed getting to experience things very hands-on and being independent and responsible for our own work.” MB CBEC. “The staff from ILAFS were all very friendly and helpful and they made sure we got the best experience possible and made the most of this opportunity.” RH CBEC.

 

ACA would like to thank all the students and staff of the schools involved and especially all the local residents of North Warnborough for their time and involvement.

19145789_1343969875679624_4618658430807045574_n

Hadleigh Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2017

After a brief break for half term, we are back on the ILAFS track! For the third time we are in Hadleigh in Essex. Although a large conurbation now, with Hadleigh running into Southend-on-sea, Hadleigh was once a small village. Hadleigh, a Saxon word meaning ‘a clearing in the heath,’ is a small town in Essex, 5 miles west of the seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea and 35 miles east of London. It is well-known for the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, a 13th-century Grade I listed building and scheduled monument maintained by English Heritage.

Encouraging the pupils to ignore the more recent developments, the 32 students from Southend High School for Boys listened to an introductory lecture from Alison Dickens, Director of ACA and Project Manager at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. This aimed not only to give practical instructions but also to introduce the students to wider archaeological questions. How has the physical landscape influenced the human settlement? How have humans changed the physical landscape? How have trade routes, access and specific events influenced the development of the town? In amongst the more modern buildings, signs of Hadleigh’s ancient past shine through, such as the medieval church and the well-know Hadleigh Castle.

These are all large questions to answer, but the students set out keen to answer them on day 1 of the dig. Laying out their test pits and starting to dig the first contexts we were impressed at the attention to detail they showed, as well as their ability to organise themselves as divide up tasks without much input from the their supervisors. Supervising the pupils were teachers from the school but also Jack Roche, member of the AGES- AHA group as well as some of the homeowners themselves who were keen to get involved the process. We excavated in Castle lane, Elm road, Beech road, Homestead way, Galleydene, Florence gardens and New road. Tow test pits were also dug by the local archaeology group AGES -AHA. One nearby to a previous test pit which has uncovered a floor layer, possibly roman, and another at a nearby house.

It was great to have to local society there, as it provided a live example of archaeology for local visitors to see. We had a number of local people interested to see what we found. Hadleigh Junior School also visited and were able to see how archaeology happens, the tools we use, and the things we found. They were great at answering questions and showed some wonderful creative thinking about the past. Understanding that depth of time is a difficult concept to grasp but they were able to actually see how we discover the past, and not only read about it!

By Day 2, we were finding some exciting things, and John Newman, pottery expert had been helping with the identification of the objects. Many of the material came from the victorian period but excitingly, Test pit 6 found some complete glass bottles, a bone gaming piece, as well as shoes, and even a porcelain figure of a soldier. There was plenty of 17th-19th century pottery tool, but many test pits also produced medieval pottery and some roman as well. Further analysis will confirm this and the full pottery report will be available on our website here.

TP 8e

The boys from Southend High School showed an amazing level of commitment and detail throughout the dig and continued to do so on Day 3 of the trip to Cambridge. Emily Ryley, Administrator at ACA and graduate of the archaeology department at Cambridge gave the morning’s lecture giving details on how to write a report in an academic fashion, synthesising archaeological and historical information to come to clear conclusions. Writing the report will prepare students for those bigs steps they will have to take in the level of work they need to do in later years. By becoming comfortable as with the work now, they are at a great advantage.

It’s not all work though as they then visited Corpus and St John’s college for lunch and a tour of the college. It’s great for students to be able to see this side of the university and get a fuller sense of what being a students is like. It was then on to other types of learning as the students enjoyed an hour in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology examining the collections and seeing what they could work out about past settlements from them. To answer any questions that occurred to the pupils over the day, Emma Smith, Schools Liaison Officer at Homerton College gave a talk about university in general.

Packing all that into the last three days really made an impact on the students saying “I have learnt a new subject and it has made me realise I want to go to Cambridge and make me want to work really hard to get in.” OC. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to go out and learn something new with new people and having a challenge; not too easy but not impossibly hard.” JB. Other students commented on how much they found out about university, working with others, and just how much they appreciated this unique opportunity! Thanks boys!

P1180820
Archaeology cake from AGES- AHA!

The ACA 2017 ILAFS season so far….

ACA are half way through the 2017 Independent Learning Archaeology Field School season (ILAFS) which started back in March. Our first dig was in Brundall (Norfolk), which was out third year of digging there and 35 school students were able to excavate 9 test pits, bringing the total so far dug in the village to 41. For this year’s dig check out the ACA blog post on the excavation. The test pits were mainly sited in the east of the village and with a lot of help from the Brundall Local History Group, we have started to track the development of the village that probably began in the Bronze Age with a cluster of activity noted on the higher ground overlooking the River Yare. The results of all the Brundall digs can be found on our website here.

Our second dig of the season was also in Norfolk, this time much further west in the village of Hillington. It was also out third year of excavations in the village where 29 pupils excavated a further 8 test pits that brings the total so far dug in the settlement to 26. Check out this year’s blog post for more information. Prehistoric and Roman settlement were both identified with also the first evidence for Early Anglo Saxon occupation for the village. This village continued to develop through the Anglo Saxon period as a settlement with at least two separate focal points of occupation, a concept that continued through the medieval period as well. Our thanks go to members of the Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Archaeological Society who have helped the dig grow; the results from each year can be seen on our website here.

Our third dig in March was a new site for ACA (as well as being nice and close) was in the village of Histon, just north of Cambridge. The Histon and Impington History Society had already excavated an impressive 26 test pits in 2016 through both settlements, so with the help of 49 school pupils, an additional 13 test pits were able to be excavated in Histon, with a focus around the current church of St Andrew’s and the remains of the second church in the village, St Ethelreda’s. The results from both years’ excavations can be found on our website, but the student excavations this year have added to what has been found with additional sites yielding Romano-British pottery plus a number also expanded the previously extent of Anglo Saxon activity, including around both churches before the settlement seemed to shift further east from the late Saxon period onwards. The blog from this years excavation can be found here.

   

After a break for the Easter Holidays we were back out test pitting at the end of April in the charming village of Blythburgh, close to the Suffolk coast. This was our first time excavating in the village (having dug for the previous four years in neighbouring Walberswick) and with the help of members of the Blythburgh Society and local residents we were able to dig a total of 13 test pits across the village with 47 local school students. The earliest evidence for activity was noted to be from the Middle Anglo Saxon period (8th century) that was also along the original main road through the village that continued to grow and expand through the Late Saxon and medieval periods. Initial results from the excavation also suggest that the settlement was not hit too badly by the various social and economic upheavals of the 14th century (including the Black Death). The results can be seen on our website here.

At the beginning of May, we embarked on another new site, this time in north Suffolk in the now one long settlement of Rickinghall and Botesdale. With the help of 24 local school students we excavated a total of 6 test pits in the northern half of the settlement, the sites were kindly found by members of the Quatrefoil Local History Society. The test pits yielded evidence for Late Iron Age activity on the high ground in the far north of Botesdale with then no finds dating to after the Norman Conquest. Rickinghall only was recorded in the Domesday Book on 1086, so it seems that the settlement spread north from there during the medieval period onwards. A record of the excavation can be found here, and our initial results from the first dig can be seen on our website here.

Well into the routine of digging this year, the next dig was in south Essex in the now small town of Southminster for our third year of excavations there. This year a total of 38 local school pupils excavated 10 test pits bringing the total so far excavated there to 32. For more information about this year’s dig click here. The first evidence for Iron Age activity was noted in the 2017 excavations around the edge of the King George V playing field that also yielded evidence for Roman activity. Despite the fact that Southminster was recorded in the Domesday Book, no Anglo Saxon pottery has yet been found through the test pitting, the rest of the finds date from the medieval period onwards, with a specific cluster of activity noted around the church, with evidence for a probable medieval structure noted in test pit 3, immediately south of the church. The rest of the results can be found here.

Last week we dug in another new site for ACA, at Old Clee, now a part of Grimsby in north east Lincolnshire. Despite a soaking wet first day, 29 Year 10 pupils were able to excavate 8 test pits around the 11th century church in Old Clee, an account of the excavation can be seen here. The name Clee comes from the Old English word for clay o there was some hard digging but hopefully some great results when the pottery report comes through. Results will be here when they are available here. The students had a long journey down to Cambridge, with many of them also visiting the city for the first time, seeing the Department, getting a tour and lunch at one of the colleges and learning more about what it is like to study at University.

The Cambridgeshire ILAFS for this week has been postponed until the autumn and with half term we have a couple of weeks to catch up around the office and get ready for the second half of the field school season that will start on the 7th June in Hadleigh down in Essex. Stay tuned to see what we find!

     

Old Clee Independent Learning Archaeology Field School 2017

It’s another new site for us this week as we’re running the first of two Independent Learning Archaeology Field Schools happening in Lincolnshire this year. Old Clee was once a small village, based around the 11th century saxo-norman Church, which has now been absorbed into the growth of Grimsby. Pupils from Ormiston Maritime Academy, Caistor Yarborough Academy and Oasis Wintringham Academy however were primed to uncover the history and development of Old Clee from beneath the veneer of recent development, and give us a clearer insight into the origins of the settlement.

Alison Dickens, manager of Access Cambridge Archaeology welcomed the year 10 students from 3 local academies, explaining how the next three days would work practically, and also what the pupil’s could hope to achieve. The ILAFS programme is designed to inspire pupils on to higher education, by giving them the skills to take control of their own learning, giving them an experience of learning outside the classroom and boosting their confidence by seeing themselves achieve at a task completely new to them. The Day 1 talk sets them up for this, by explaining not only the practical skills of excavations, but also the key ideas to start interpreting the archaeology they discover. When a student find their first piece of pottery, or fragment of metalwork, we try to get them to think about what it could mean more widely. Where was the object made? What can it tell us about trade, status, access routes, in the past? Was this an agricultural, or manufacturing area? How has the natural landscape influenced the activities in the area? Keen to start answering these questions 29 pupils, divided into teams of 3 or 4, set out to excavate 8 test pits located on Church lane, St Mary’s Close and Greetham’s Lane.

The clay soils of Grimsby proved to be no match for the strength of the students from Ormiston Maritime, Caistor Yarborough Academy and Oasis Wintringham Academy. Indeed it seems we were on something of a ridge between clay and chalk as there was a striking difference between the soils of test pits less than 100m away from each other. In test pit 8, they found a collection of materials, including some pig bones and teeth. According to a neighbour, the garden had been an orchard before the development of the neighbourhood. Pigs are often kept in orchards so this evidence seems to fit! Test pit 3 was also located near to an area that has had some historical investigation as it was next door to a 17th century moated manor. The manor site in fact has earlier medieval origins. The brick and rubble found in test pit 3 could be related to the pathway between the manor and the church. We will know once the pottery discovered has been analysed by a local expert. Results of the analysis will be available here.

Other more modern features were found at test pit 7 with a large amount of molded concrete appearing. The remains of some kind of structure. Another very different feature was found at test pit 7. Right at the end of the day, a clear distinction in the soil was seen on one side of the test pit. It is difficult to tell without further investigation was this cut feature could be though there is some debate about how it relates to the 11th century church as the test pit was right by the eastern end of the church, though several feet below down a bank. Perhaps then the students had reached an earlier level. The results of the pottery analysis will inform us further..

Identification of objects and interpretation of the contexts was given to the participants throughout the two days by Cat Collins, Archaeological supervisor and Alison Dickens the manager of ACA but also a Senior Manager at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. In her ‘day job’ Alison oversees huge projects such as the 200+ hectare wide excavations at Northstowe. Test pits are a little more manageable. Cat has been an archaeologist for over 16 years now, both at ACA and at various commercial archaeological units were she has worked on a variety of sites and is a specialist in human remains. The benefit of their knowledge is invaluable to guide the students as they complete their first archaeological excavations.

DAIQUhPXgAA3zon
After the rain, a beautiful crop of umbrellas appears!

Day 3 of the trip and the students visited Cambridge. Not only is this the first time most of them had visited the town, they got a unique chance to really see the University as well. It was a very long day for them, with much time spent in the coach, but hopefully rewarding. The Day 3 talk by Eoin Parkinson, PhD student, brings together their initial thoughts on archaeology, and explains how they can go about writing up their findings into a clear report. As GCSE coursework has now been dropped, this is one of the few opportunities students have to write and gain feedback on a long piece of their own research, prior to A levels. We hope that the skills they learn from completing the report will stay with them, and give them an advantage when working independently. Being in the surroundings of the University of Cambridge also hopefully inspires the students who are currently in year 10. At this age is it easy to see GCSEs- your first big exam – as completely deciding your future but hopefully we can show the students that there is life beyond year 11. Archaeology won’t be for many of them, but hopefully the skills they learnt of motivating others (despite rain and clay soils), planning their work and time (where to put that bucket, who’s doing the sieving) and academic skills (connecting that piece of clay pipe to the arrival of tobacco in the 16th century) will give them a great start to their futures. We look forward to welcoming the schools again in June when they complete another excavation with their year 9 pupils this time.