Sunday, 19 July 2015

Prologue (Part 2)

They're here. The first group. 24 students raring to go and develop their skills as archaeologists. Within this group we have Archaeologists & Ancient Historians, Evolutionary Anthropologists, a Civil Engineer, an Egyptian Archaeologist and of course...Archaeological students themselves.  It's a mixed bag to be sure but over the next two weeks (and in the instance of the IFR students four weeks) they will all bond over their excavation of the hillfort of Penycloddiau. De-turfing and excavation begins in a matter of hours but before the equipment him, before the creation of a turf wall and before the they experience the presence of constant dirt under the fingernails the students have their own aspirations for this season. Here they are in their own words...


"On this trip, I am looking forward to experiencing archaeology first hand with the help of an enthusiastic team. This is my first time doing practical work so I'm looking forward to putting my first year lectures and theoretical knowledge to the test!

I'm also looking forward to learning more about the variety of archaeological skill such as environmental archaeology and illustration in order to gain a good idea on what life as an archaeologist is like (including the pub...)"


"In the coming two weeks we'll be excavating a roundhouse as well as a rampart and hoping to find answers on who occupied Penycloddiau and during which seasons. Aside from excavating everyday we'll be trying new things such as a geomagnetic survey, landscape surveying and sketching the archaeological materials. 

Since I am a BSc student I am most looking to the science side of the excavation, like the geophysics, and hopefully this may lead to some lab work in the future. I'm looking forward to using the scientific equipment and learning about how it all works, as well as being a good archaeologist and visiting the pub! 

Something that interests me about hillforts is that no one truely knows their real purpose, originally we thought they were occupied all year round and were used for defense. This has been proven incorrect, possibly they were occupied in times of desperation, or occupied during certain months as a form of communal gathering. Maybe we'll get closer to the answer in the next fortnight? So far the field school has provided me with confidence as well as an interesting insight into the American, Canadian, and Australian schools of thought."


"As the typical math nerd and a civil engineering major, I am slightly out of my comfort zone here at Penycloddiau. However, I have never been more excited for an educational experience. Archaeology has become more of a passion for me, something I study simply because I find it incredibly interesting. I am hoping to learn new skills so radically different from my regular studies, yet still applicable. I was ecstatic to learn that we would not be digging at the site every day, but rather learning all aspects of the field. To me, the "behind-the-scenes" lab work on soil samples seems just as fun as digging with my trowel (I will get back to you later on whether I still believe that is true or not). That could just be the engineering nerd in me coming out. 

In an effort to encompass both engineering and archaeology in the same project, I recently completed a research project within the anthropology department of my university. Although it was related to an archaeological dig in a local cave, most of the work was on the computer and rarely in the field. It will be refreshing to go abroad in order to actually get my hands dirty on a site and, what's more, learn from the experts.

In the end, I am just hoping to have a learning experience that I would not be able to get back at home, and it is already off to a great start!"


"Within the nest two weeks I'm hoping to develop some proper digging skills. At this current skill level I am an archaeology student who has real experience 'archaeologising'

We will be excavating the Penycloddiau hillfort, and I hope to gain a real proficiency in actual archaeology from excavating the site. Coming from North East Wales, I am quite accustomed to seeing Iron Age hillforts about the place, so it will be very interesting to investigate them firsthand, as close as you can get; trowel in hand. 

The fieldwork experience is vital for a future in archaeological excavation, so I hope that these two weeks provide me with the proper know-how to engage in excavations in any terrain or climate. So these two weeks are key, I reckon. I hope to begin building a skill set that will develop over the next few decades hopefully."


"I've always been a hands-on kind of a person; one who is fascinated by experimental archaeology and the combination of practical experience and academic study. I study Fine Art with a background in Textiles and I've been interested in the archaeological textiles for  a  long time. I'm used to working with my hands but not in these conditions so I'm very excited (and a little bit nervous) to get started. It's been a bit of a journey to get to Wales from Canada but that is a huge part of the reason why I chose to come here.

I'm really looking forward to have this fully inclusive archaeological experience in the beautiful surrounding of North Wales and it's Iron Age heritage. It's been great meeting the team and the fellow students and I can tell from this early stage that the next four weeks will be fill of great conversations and experiences. 

I don't completely know what I'm in for but I'm sure it will be fantastic!"

You can hear it in the dorms. You can hear it in the tents. You can hear it in the buzz whilst breakfast is being served. The students are excited. They're ready to take to the put their lecture-based theoretical knowledge to the test. It's going to be hard but it's also going to be so much fun. 

We're ready. Shall we begin?

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