Module HTA-2123:
Archaeology Field School

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof Raimund Karl

Overall aims and purpose

This module is a basic archaeological field school aiming at providing students with practical training in field archaeology. Taught mostly in the field during an ongoing research and training excavation run by the School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology in North West Wales, students will be introduced to practical archaeological surveying and excavation methods. They will learn to understand archaeological stratigraphy on a real archaeological site, how to uncover, record and analyse the site’s stratification. Tasks will include all aspects of digging (removing turf and topsoil cover, cleaning surfaces, sectioning and excavating features, recovering finds, soil and paleoenvironmental sampling) and recording (drawing of plans and sections, 2D and 3D photography, surveying with a total station and GPS Rover, producing written records), processing archaeological finds and samples (finds processing and recording, wet sieving soil samples), and post-excavation record production (plan digitization, finds drawing and photography, report writing). Another important aim is to raise awareness of health and safety regulations and precautions taken on site to avoid accidents and minimize health risks. In addition, we will examine relevant excavation-related subjects on a theoretical level, including stratigraphic theory and practice, the use of GIS and CAD applications in archaeology, UK archaeological heritage legislation, and the planning and financing of excavation projects. Field trips to sites of different periods in the area will provide students with an increased understanding of the archaeology of the region and how the site excavated during the field schools fits into that wider archaeological picture.

Course content

Practical skills: Archaeological excavation and survey: removing turf and topsoil cover, cleaning surfaces, sectioning and excavating features, recovering finds, soil and paleoenvironmental sampling, drawing of plans and sections, 2D and 3D photography, surveying with a total station and GPS Rover, producing written records. Archaeological post-excavation work: finds processing and recording, wet sieving soil samples, plan digitization, finds drawing and photography, report writing. Theoretical knowledge: Principles of archaeological stratigraphy, GIS and CAD applications in archaeology, UK archaeological heritage legislation; organising and financing an excavation

Assessment Criteria

threshold

A threshold student will have partaken in all excavation tasks and produced a full, if slightly flawed or incomplete set of records, demonstrating a basic ability to properly record archaeology in the field, despite not quite reaching the quality required by professional standards. S/he will have completed a satisfactory health and safety assessment. S/he will also have produced a satisfactory, if slightly flawed or incomplete report, demonstrating a basic ability to report and reflect on archaeological fieldwork, despite not quite reaching the quality required by professional standards.

good

A good student will have partaken fully in all excavation tasks and produced a full and competently produced set of records, achieving at least the minimum quality required by professional standards. S/he will have completed a competent health and safety assessment. S/he will also have produced a complete and competent site report, demonstrating the ability to report and reflect on archaeological fieldwork at a quality required by professional standards.

excellent

An excellent student will have partaken fully in all excavation tasks and produced a full and competently produced set of records, clearly exceeding the minimum quality required by professional standards. S/he will have completed a competent health and safety assessment. S/he will also have produced a complete and competent site report, demonstrating the ability to report and reflect on archaeological fieldwork at a quality clearly exceeding the minimum requirements of professional standards.

Learning outcomes

  1. Ability to record archaeological features and finds according to disciplinary standards.

  2. Ability to write archaeological reports describing and analysing the results of an archaeological field research project.

  3. Understanding of archaeological stratigraphy in practice.

  4. Knowledge of archaeological excavation and surveying practice.

  5. Practical knowledge of archaeological stratification.

  6. Understanding of archaeological fieldwork practice.

  7. Understanding of health and safety in archaeological field research.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Health and Safety Assessment Form 10
Personal Skills Development Protocol 10
Report of Experience 40
Portfolio of Records 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Fieldwork

archaeological fieldwork (daily practicals from c. 9-5, 5 days a week for 4 weeks; training provided in digging, cleaning of surfaces, sectioning of features, on-site archaeological recording by drawing, photography, context sheet and other written records, total station and GPS Rover and other relevant field archaeology skills like sampling, on-site finds processing, health and safety on archaeological excavations etc.; and preferentially on rain days post-excavation skills like wet-sieving of samples, finds post-processing, plan digitization, report writing and other off-site archaeological skills).

152
Private study

private study (report writing, portfolio compilation, etc.)

20
Lecture

lectures (provided in the evenings or on weekends during the excavation in a suitable local venue, e.g. village hall; week 1: 2 hours on archaeological stratigraphy; week 2: 2 hours on GIS and CAD applications in archaeology; week 3: 2 hours on UK archaeological heritage legislation; week 4: 2 hours on organising and financing an excavation)

8
External visit

field trips (Saturday each week, 5 hours each; week 1: early prehistoric sites in NW Wales; week 2: later prehistoric sites in NW Wales; week 3: Roman and early medieval sites in NW Wales; week 4: medieval to modern sites in NW Wales)

20

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
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • 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

  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity

Core fieldwork techniques of identification, surveying, recording, excavation and sampling (archaeology subject benchmark statement 4.2, 2nd bullet point)

Core post-excavation/post-survey techniques such as stratigraphic analysis of field records, phasing and data archiving (archaeology subject benchmark statement 4.2, 3rd bullet point)

Resources

Resource implications for students

There are no resource implications for Bangor students. Since this is also available as a residential summer course for external students, such students have to pay for the module credits (if needed) and for the costs of their stay on the dig (currently calculated at £ 1,100 for British/EU students and £ 1,200 for overseas students for the 4 week course for the 2016 excavation season).

Reading list

Barker, P. 1993. Techniques of Archaeological Excavations. 3. Aufl., London & New York: Routledge.

Collis, J.R. 2001. Digging Up the Past. An Introduction to Archaeological Excavation. Stroud: Sutton Publishing.

Conolly, J. & Lake, M. 2006. Geographical information systems in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Drewett, P.L. 1999. Field Archaeology. London & New York: Routledge.

Eiteljorg II, H. 2002. The CSA CAD Guide for Archaeologists and Architectural Historians. CSA, Bryn Mawr, see also http://csanet.org/inftech/cadgd/cadgd.html.

Eiteljorg II, H., Fernie, K., Huggett, J. and Robinson, D. 2002. ADS CAD Guide to Good Practice. http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/project/goodguides/cad/ .

Harris, E.C. 1989. Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. 2nd ed., London: The Academic Press, see also http://www.harrismatrix.com/.

Harris, E.C. (ed.) 1993. Practices of Archaeological Stratigraphy. London & New York: The Academic Press, see also http://www.harrismatrix.com/.

Karl, R., Möller, K., Waddington, K. 2016. Characterising the Double Ringwork Enclosures of Gwynedd: Meillionydd Excavations, June and July 2015. Interim Report. Bangor Studies in Archaeology, Report No. 14. Bangor: Bangor University School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology, https://www.academia.edu/22700400/Characterising_the_Double_Ringwork_Enclosures_of_Gwynedd_Meillionydd_Excavations_June_and_July_2015._Interim_Report._Bangor_Studies_in_Archaeology_Report_No._14._Bangor_School_of_History_Welsh_History_and_Archaeology_2016.

Hunter, J. and Ralston, I. (Hg.) 1997. Archaeological Resource Management in the UK. An Introduction. Pbk. Ed., Stroud: Sutton Publishing.

Lynch, F. 2001. Gwynedd, Covering Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey and Western Conwy. 2nd revised ed., Cardiff: CADW.

NPPF. National Planning Policy Framework. London: DCLG 2012.

PPG 16. Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning. London: DCLG 2000. http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/4664C64A-DDD6-4E66-AA89-6B4BAA7E3499/0/PlanningPolicyGuidance16Archaeologyandplanning_ id1507144.pdf.

PPS 5. Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment. London: The Stationery Office 2010.

Roskams, S. 2001. Excavation. Cambridge: University Press.

Schofield, J., Carman, J. and Belford, P. 2011. Archaeological Practice in Great Britain. A Heritage Handbook. New York: Springer.

Waddington, K. 2013. The Settlements of Northwest Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

Wheatley, D. & Gillings, M. 2002. Spatial technology and archaeology: a guide to the archaeological applications of GIS. London: Taylor & Francis.

Wilkinson, P. 2007. Archaeology. What it is, where it is, and how to do it. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: