Module HTA-2118:
Field Archaeology in Britain

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Gary Robinson

Overall aims and purpose

Archaeology, as a discipline, is ultimately grounded in the analysis and interpretation of data-sets retrieved from work in the field. This course aims to give undergraduate students a practical grounding in contemporary archaeological fieldwork techniques and post-excavation analyses, and will equip students with the necessary knowledge and key employability skills required for the archaeology undergraduate dissertation, as well as a career in this sector.

The course will take students through all the steps involved in researching, planning and implementing a programme of fieldwork on an archaeological site, from desk-based work, field assessment, survey techniques, through to interpretation of site formation processes, sampling, finds retrieval and recording. The course will expand students’ knowledge of the methods used to locate, record, survey and excavate sites, as well the methods used to interpret them.

Course content

Lectures 1. Course introduction: outline of course aims, content, assessment. 2. Managing archaeological projects 3. Desk-based research 4. Aerial photography and Lidar 5. Geophysical surveys: magnetometer, resistivity, magnetic susceptibility, GPR
6. Surveying upstanding monuments 7. Excavation techniques 8. Understanding site formation processes and stratigraphy 9. Dating techniques

Workshops 1. Online databases used in desk-top assessments 2. Computer workshop on GIS and the interpretation of spatial data 3. Making maps 4. Interpreting aerial photography and geophysical surveys 5. Interpreting archaeological field illustrations and stratigraphy 6. Material culture analyses: flint and pottery 7. Writing stratigraphic reports 8. Archaeological illustration and photography

Fieldtrips 1. Setting up a site grid and surveying upstanding remains 2. Building recording techniques

Assessment Criteria

good

There are three grades for upper second-class performance: B+ (68%) Work will receive a B+ mark if it is consistently strong in: covering the necessary ground in depth and detail; advancing a well structured, relevant, and focused argument; analysis and deployment of an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and consideration of possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate. B (65%) Work will receive a B mark if it: is clear that it is based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in depth and detail; advances a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate. B- (62%) Work will receive a B- mark if it: is clearly based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in some depth and detail; advances a properly-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

C- to C+

There are three grades for lower second-class performance: C+ (58%) Work will receive a C+ mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains partially superficial; covers the important aspects of the relevant field, but in some places lacks depth; advances a coherent and relevant argument; employs some evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only a few or no mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient. C (55%) Work will receive a C mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains superficial; covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth; advances a coherent and largely relevant argument; employs some limited evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only limited mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, contain some mistakes or be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient. C- (52%) Work will receive a C- mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but little knowledge of in-depth studies (for first-year work the student may not have read beyond a few standard works; at second or third year the student may not have read a good selection of journal articles and specialist monographs); covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth or misses a significant area (for second- and third-year work this may mean that it fails to deploy the historical details found in specialist literature); advances a coherent, and sometimes relevant argument, but drifts away from tackling the task in hand (for example, by ordering the argument in an illogical way, becoming distracted by tangential material, or lapsing into narrative of only partial pertinence); usually employs evidence to back its points, but occasionally fails to do so or deploys an insufficient range; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways, but may fail to get to the heart of the central scholarly debate or fully understand a key point (in second- and third-year work this may extend to a failure to discuss important subtleties or ambiguities in the evidence, or to a lack of awareness of the current state of historical or archaeological debate); is reasonably well presented and contains appropriate references and bibliography, but makes some mistakes in presentation or appropriate use. For lower second-class marks for gobbet answers in third-year examinations specifically: the answer discusses the content and context of the general document from which the gobbet is taken, but fails to concentrate on the particular passage set and to discuss its particular significance. Alternatively, the answer may analyse the particular passage but fail to say enough about its wider context.

threshold

There are three grades for third-class performance: D+ (48%) Work is marked D+ if it: shows evidence of acceptable amounts of reading, but does not go much beyond what was referenced in lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers much of the necessary ground but fails to discuss one or a few vital aspects of a topic; deploys relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole, or sustains a clear argument only for the greater part of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points, but sometimes fails to do so, or shows difficulty in weighing evidence, or chooses unreliable evidence; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but without devoting sustained discussion to this; is for the most part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious problems in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but occasionally misunderstands their appropriate use or makes mistakes in their presentation. D (45%) Work is marked D if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based partly on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers some of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only some parts of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical or inappropriate evidence; shows some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is often correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation. D- (42%) Work is marked D- if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based largely on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers parts of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some potentially relevant material but fails to bring it together into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only parts of the piece; occasionally deploys evidence to back some individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical, or inappropriate evidence; may show some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is in part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation. (v) Pass mark: E (37%)—work not of honours standard Reading: Work may show evidence of reading—but this largely cursory Content: Work discusses a limited number of the basic aspects of a topic, but leaves many out; or shows largely a limited knowledge of those it discusses; or is short weight; or makes major mistakes about the pattern of events. Argument: Work is mostly badly organized; or has a largely unclear argument; or makes an argument which is quite irrelevant to the task in hand. Analysis: Work deploys only a limited amount of evidence and tends more to express opinion without much support from historical fact (or archaeological evidence); or misuses evidence; or indicates only a limited sense that evidence can be interpreted in different ways. Presentation: Work makes some serious mistakes in presentation or writing style or in coherence; or makes some serious errors in grammar, spelling, or paragraph construction (but see guidelines on dyslexia below). Scholarly apparatus: Work prone to misuse references and bibliography, or inconsistent in recognizing when these are essential.

excellent

There are four grades for first-class performance: A* (95%) At this level, first-class work earns its mark by showing genuine originality. It may advance a novel argument or deal with evidence which has not been considered before. Such originality of ideas or evidence is coupled with the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected of first-class work graded at A or A+. At this level, the work exhausts relevant secondary material, includes in dissertation work extensive and often unanticipated primary evidence, and betrays no factual or interpretative inaccuracy. It can also show a mastery of theory and deploy hypotheses subtly and imaginatively. In the case of essays and dissertations, work of this standard will be impeccable in presentation and will be publishable. A+ (87%) At this level, first-class work will also have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail, but will further deploy the evidence consistently accurately and give indications of deploying unexpected primary and secondary sources. It will habitually demonstrate a particularly acute and critical awareness of the historiography and/or archaeological debate, including conceptual approaches, and give a particularly impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It will show a particularly sophisticated approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. It will be original work. The standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently first-class work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be very high. A (80%) At this level, first-class work will have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail. It will usually also demonstrate an acute awareness of historiography and/or archaeological debate, and give an impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be high. A- (74%) A first-class mark at this level is often earned simply by demonstrating one or more of the features of a good upper-second essay to a peculiar degree, for example presenting a particularly strong organization of argument, strong focus, wide range of reading, engagement with the historiography and/or archaeological debate, depth of understanding, an unobjectionable style, and strong presentation.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the archaeological post-excavation process

  2. Show an understanding of the importance of detailed post-excavation recording (written, drawn, photographic and digital)

  3. Evaluate the results archaeological surveys

  4. Show an understanding of the importance of recording and interpreting stratigraphic sequences in the field

  5. Demonstrate knowledge of how to survey, record and interpret archaeological sites

  6. Demonstrate knowledge of how to locate and research archaeological sites

  7. Demonstrate critical understanding of the formation and interpretation of the archaeological record

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Review Excavation Report 1000-15000 words 30
in-class test 20
Site Assessment Report 3000 words 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Workshop

8 3-hour workshops

27
Fieldwork

Two 6-hour fieldtrips

12
Lecture

9 one-hour lectures

9
Private study 152

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions

Resources

Resource implications for students

Suitable clothing and footwear as set out in BU heath and safety policy for fieldtrips

Reading list

Aston, M. 1985. Interpreting the Landscape. London: Batsford. B1inkhorn, P.W. and Cumberpatch, C.G. 1997. The interpretation of artefacts and the tyranny of the field archaeologist. assemblage 3. World Wide Web http://www.shef.ac.uk/-asseml3. Barber, J.W. (ed.) 1993. Interpreting Stratigraphy 2. Proceedings of the 2'd Stratigraphy Conference. Edinburgh, November 1992. Edinburgh: AOC Scotland. Barker, P. 1993. Techniques of Archaeological Excavation (3,d edition). London: Batsford. Barrett, J.C. 1995. Some Challenges in Contemporary Archaeology. Paper presented at the Ninth IFA Archaeology in Britain Conference 1995. Oxford: Oxbow Lecture 2. Bettess, F. 1992. Surveying for Archaeologists (2"d edition). Durham. Bevan, B. 1996. Roads to nowhere? Archaeology, landscape, and a planning process that by-passes more than towns. assemblage 1. World Wide Web http://www.shef.ac.uki-assem/l. Bowden, M. (ed.) 1999. Unravelling the Landscape. An Inquisitive Approach to Archaeology. Gloucester: Tempus. Bowden, M. (ed.) 1999. Unravelling the Landscape. An Inquisitive Approach to Archaeology. Gloucester: Tempus. Carver, M.O.H. 1996. On archaeological value. Antiquity 70: 45-56. Carver, MO.H. 1987. Digging for ideas. Antiquity 63: 666-674. Chadwick, A.M. 1998. Archaeology at the edge of chaos - further towards reflexive excavation methodologies. assemblage 3. World _WideWeb http://www.shef.ac.ukl-assem/3. Chadwick, A.M. 2000. How green is our valley? The state of contemporary archaeological practice in Britain. Rescue News 82: 5. Champion, T., Shennan, S. and Cuming, P. 1995. Planning For The Past Volume 3. Decision-making and Field Methods in Archaeological Evaluation. Southampton: Southampton University English Heritage. Clark, A. 1996 [1990]. Seeing Beneath the Soil (2"d edition). London: Batsford. Collis, J.R. 2001. Digging Up the Past. Stroud: Sutton. Conolly, J. & Lake, M. 2006. Geographical information systems in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Darvill, T. 1993. Working practices. In J. Hunter and I. Ralston (eds.) Archaeological Resource Management in the UK. Stroud: Alan Sutton, pp. 169-183. Department of the Environment 1989. Environmental Assessment: A Guide to the Procedures. London: HMSO. Department of the Environment 1990. Planning Policy Guidance Note 16: Archaeology and Planning London: HMSO. Department of the Environment 1994. Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic Environment. London: HMSO. Department of the Environment 1997. Planning Policy Guidance Note 7: The Countryside -Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development. London: HMSO. Drewett, P. 1999. Field Archaeology: An Introduction. London: UCL Press. English Heritage. 1991. Management of Archaeological Projects 2. London: RCHME. Fasham, P. et al. 1980. Fieldwalking for Archaeologists. Southampton: Southampton University Press. Harris, E. 1989. Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. London: Academic Press. Haselgrove, C., Millett, M. and Smith,!. (eds.). 1985. Archaeology from the Ploughsoil: Studies in the Collection and Interpretation of Field Survey Data. Sheffield: Department of Prehistory and Archaeology. Hodder, I. 1997. 'Always momentary, fluid and flexible': towards a reflexive excavation methodology. Antiquity 71: 691-700. Hodder, I. 1998. The Archaeological Process. An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. Jones, A. 2001. Approaches to Archaeological Theory and Scientific Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Layton, R. (ed.) Conflict in the Archaeology of Living Traditions. London: Routledge. Lucas, G. 2001. Critical Approaches to Fieldwork. Contemporary and Historical Practice. London: Routledge. Meskell, L. (ed.) 1998. Archaeology Under Fire. Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. London: Routledge. Museum of London Archaeology Service. 1994. Archaeological Site Manual (3,d edition). London: Schofield, A.I. 1990. Interpreting Artefact Scatters. Oxford: Oxbow. Wilson, D.R. 2000. Air Photo Interpretation for Archaeologists (new edition). Stroud: Tempus.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: