As the old adage goes, archaeology is a mongrel discipline. Putting down roots in an era of 18th and 19th century antiquarian fervour, the practice was tempered by the application of more rigorous methodologies and scientific advances over the course of the past century. This progression eventually left us with the collaborative, inter-disciplinary process that we know today – a process that excavation is just one small part of.
At York Archaeological Trust, field archaeologists work alongside an array of specialists, from conservators and bio-archaeologists to ceramics experts and architectural historians. This not only allows us to extract as much information as possible from the material we deal with on-site, but also to consult as many resources as possible to help us consider the site in its broader context.
Throughout the Dig York Stadium community archaeology project, we have endeavoured to reflect this collaborative approach by involving our volunteers in each and every stage of our investigation of the site. From days spent carrying a magnetometer across a rugby pitch to trawling through old maps in the Explore York archives, local enthusiasts have been integral to the process and we’re happy to announce an exciting new opportunity to get involved with the project.
On each Friday of our four week community excavation, we will be opening up the site to visitors between the hours of 11am and 3pm. The site can be accessed via the car park between the Waterworld site and the F1 karting building and tour guides will be on hand to show you our latest discoveries.
In addition to this, archaeologists and specialists from York Archaeological Trust will be holding a series of study sessions on each Friday afternoon during the excavation. These will take place at the Huntington Memorial Hall (http://www.hmh.org.uk/) between 1.30 and 3.30pm and have been designed to introduce people to the different ways archaeology can be discovered and analysed and some of the many ways that the findings of surveys and excavations can be presented.
The sessions will complement the Community Excavation but can also be enjoyed separately from it by anyone who is interested in learning how to research the past and tell new stories about it.
Session 1: 29th May 2015
Discovering archaeology: reconnaissance and landscapes
Exploring the Prehistoric and Roman archaeology of Monk’s Cross
Ian will introduce you to the techniques of discovering new archaeological sites and tell the story of how the Roman camps at Monk’s Cross were re-discovered. After a break, he will show how these camps fit in the wider Prehistoric and Roman landscapes of this part of York and introduce the research questions that inform the current excavation.
Session 2: 5th June 2015
Finding things: identifying artefacts in archaeology
Pottery and small finds identification and analysis
Anne Jenner, Nienke Van Doorn
Anne will introduce you to the Roman pottery of York and the region, looking at how and where different pottery types are made and used and what it can tell us about life in the Roman period. Nienke will introduce you to the different types of small find typically found in York and look these are identified and handled during the excavation process. These sessions will be run twice concurrently with a break to allow everyone to see both presentations.
Session 3: 12th June 2015
Putting together the story: archaeological analysis
Analysing archaeological information spatially and in sequence
Karen Weston, Gary Millward
Gary will introduce the process of taking all the carefully recorded information from the excavation and organising it into a sequence, He will then describe how we use dating and spatial information to understand this sequence and put together the story. Karen will introduce how to understand archaeological information spatially, using traditional methods and GIS to put together drawn records with the evidence from pottery and other finds and understand how the site may have worked.
These sessions will be run twice concurrently with a break to allow everyone to see both presentations.
Session 4: 19th June 2015
Telling the story: public interpretation of archaeology
Reviewing what we have discovered and exploring how to present it
JORVIK team, Ian Milsted
The JORVIK team will introduce the different ways in which archaeological stories can be presented to the public and will invite the group to start thinking about how to present the information from the excavation. Ian will present a brief summary of the discoveries made during the excavation along with the information gathered by the geophysics and documentary research sessions already undertaken.
These sessions will be free to attend, but spaces are limited and in high demand. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place.
We began this post by looking at the many different areas of research that make up modern archaeology. The Dig York Stadium study days are an opportunity to learn more about how these specialisms come together to bring us closer to the lives of the people who lived, worked and died in York before us.
Once again, spaces will be limited so get in touch with us at email@example.com to get involved!
The YAT team will be on-site next week machine excavating the pitch and exposing the archaeology. From May 25th onwards, the shovels, hoes and trowels of our community volunteers will be called into action as the excavation begins. We will be putting detailed site diaries online at the end of each week and tweeting each discovery as it is made via https://twitter.com/digyorkstadium
Watch this space for updates!
– Arran, Jane, Ian and Toby
The Dig York Stadium Team