Monday, 20 July 2015

Prologue (Part 1)

It's just about that time of year again when the Liverpool Archaeology Field School (LAFS) welcomes students from the University of Liverpool and from around the world to learn the practical methods of archaeological excavation and prehistory at the site of Penycloddiau; the largest hillfort in Wales.

This year LAFS 2015 welcomes 38 students over the course of four intense weeks of excavation. You'll be hearing from several of these students soon enough but in the meantime this post gives voice to the supervisory and trainee supervisory teams of LAFS 2015. In many ways these people, several of whom were former University of Liverpool students, are the backbone of the team as they directly interact with students on a one-to-one basis. Over the years students have used LAFS to develop their archaeological skills. In their own words, this is what they're looking forward to in the coming weeks...

Some of our lovely supervisors (L-R): Josh, Karl, Morgan, Hans, Morgan and Julian


"My first season and my first day at #PyC15 basecamp and I've met all of my lovely supervisor and assistant pals who have all been involved with Penycloddiau for some time. Which is nice. I'm anticipating meeting with students and hopefully the weather will be with us this year. 

This site is just class (sorry for the slang but this is how I roll), because it's so close to the landscape in which I grew up in and give me that 'sense of place' buzz - a connection between the archaeology and my own history. Lame: maybe. Exciting: definitely. I was working on Bodfari, Moel y Gaer last year and it's going to be fun to compare and contrast the archaeology between these two forts. Yes, dear reader this site is the metaphorical whetstone upon which to sharpen our archaeological skills! Bring it on."

Karl aka 'Rambo'

"Our fourth year at Penycloddiau begins and I can't wait to get last year's backfill off so we can start excavating. It was only at the end of last year that we uncovered part of the original rampart construction, so this year we're ready to hit the ground - the Iron Age ground - running. Compared to exploring sheep scrapes and tractor cuts, excavating the rest of the rampart will be very exciting. Come to think of it, it's pretty exciting all on its own.

This year I'm in charge of supervising planning and sectioning on-site, the same job I did last year. This year we've got a higher supervisor / student ratio, and we're reducing the area under excavation. This will hopefully help us work at a faster pace, which will mean more planning to coordinate and check. I can only imagine what the final plans will look like in four weeks, and I can't wait to find out!"

Morgan aka 'He-Morgan'

"This will the second year I will be a supervisor at #PyC15 and even though Rach and Rich increase my roles and responsibilities every year I am looking forward to carrying on the work I started last year. One thing you can always count on is that you will meet some amazing people and have some great times. Not only do I have the opportunity to gain archaeological experience but I have the chance to train new students and pass the knowledge and skills I have developed since beginning my active fieldwork in 2012.

The drive to and from site every day is probably what I am least looking forward to; however, this is a chance to have a cheeky power nap so even this has it's perks. The thing that draws me back, besides the archaeology, is probably the friends I have made whilst digging on Penycloddiau. Many of these people live in different countries and there this is the only time we all get to meet up and have a few laughs whilst doing some good, hard archaeology."


"Arriving at the Penycloddiau base camp for a second season is an exciting moment. The aroma of Jenn's cooking is the variety that lifts hobos in cartoons and I had been waiting for a year to enjoy it again. Penycloddiau boasts the best dig facilities I have ever experienced.

Our training session helped to build excitement for more than meals and grassy fields. Teaching field archaeology is a daunting task, especially as a student, but luckily Dr. Pope has already had a month to fashion me into a proper trowel wielder. It's an honor to be involved with instructing this time around. I hope to spend a career in the field teaching, and this is the best place to be. 

Field archaeology attracts a special breed, but I can only hope we make a few converts. My enthusiasm for the fine art of deturfing will hopefully be infectious. Students arrive soon, so I've got time to perfect my answers to all the difficult questions like "When's lunch?"

Morgan aka 'She-Morgan' aka 'Feet'

"As a returning student to Penycloddiau I'm mostly looking forward to expanding my skills and ability to interpret archaeological landscapes. Second to that is spreading my love for the archaeology to the students starting their education in archaeology. 

My first day back not as a student but as a trainee supervisor was vastly different from 2014. Rather than being excited but slightly scared as I entered unfamiliar territory (actual field archaeology, not theory) I feel confident in my knowledge and my future roll as a mentor and role model! As a university student interested in prehistoric Britain it's an amazing privilege working with Dr. Pope and her team on the Clwydian Range. Particularly excavating and leaning beside a broad a hope of academic minds."  

The team is ready. The archaeology is waiting. The students are on their way. LAFS15 and the excavations at #PyC15 are just around the corner.

No comments:

Post a Comment