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SHP Conf 12: Digs Deep

Neil Bates and Richard McFahn write about their experience of an SHP12 Workshop:

History Around Us, History Underneath Us led by Dr Carenza Lewis & Richard Kerridge

It was great to get outside and get our hands dirty. Eschewing the classroom bound format of other SHP workshops, Carenza and Richard gave us hands-on experience of archaeological fieldwork. Building upon work done by the Cambridge Archaeology Project and developed in conjunction with the History Department at Mildenhall school, the session focused upon the possibilities of allowing students to literally find, sort, categorise and interpret their own evidence…and in true archeological style the emphasis was upon finding the evidence.

Having first outlined the project and how it would be presented to students, Carenza and Richard then took us to experience the digging of a test pit. Everyone was quickly assigned jobs: digging, plan and recording, sieving, washing and recording.  Going down in ten cm contexts, an odd assortment of tiny broken pieces of pottery, wood and numerous worms were soon discovered.

Having neatly filled the test pit back in we were whisked back to the classroom to unpick the process Richard’s students went through. They analyzed their finds to draw conclusions about change over time and the typicality of their deserted village.  Pupil surveys showed a high level of engagement, enjoyment and motivation. Samples of student work clearly showed a deep understanding of the engaging enquiry; much, much deeper than the 30 cm test pit dug on the grounds of Leeds Trinity.

Neil and Richard

P.S. For more information on the Cambridge project, ‘Increasing Awareness: Raising Aspirations’ see Access Cambridge Archaeology

And for more of Neil and Richard’s work see www.