Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsMy name's Amanda Clarke, and I'm an associate professor of Field Archaeology here at the Department of Archaeology at Reading. I am also the co-director of the Archaeology Field School. The Field School has existed since 1997 when I first came to the University. And it's developed a lot over those 20 years. It began as the Silchester Field School, Silchester Roman Town. Those were its early beginnings. And it's now gradually morphed into the Vale of Pewsey Field school, or the Archaeology Field School. But basically, this is a landscape project. So it's taking a little known archaeological landscape and trying to understand it through time.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsSo from the earliest sort of settlement, in pre-history, right the way through in fact to modern day Vale of Pewsey. The Field School basically provides technical training. So it's how you dig. That's what I know how to do and that's what I'm teaching them how to do. So you get a lot of technical training in using a trowel, shovel, spade, mattock, whatever. It's learning to read the soil beneath your feet. So you're teaching observation skills, you're teaching students to not be afraid of their hands. So you like to see them actually picking up the soil and feeling it, and trying to work out what it's made of and how that all works.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 secondsField archaeology is not always the most glamorous of things to do despite what the media might have you believe. It's hours in the wet, and the rain, and on your knees, and all of that. So it's teaching people to use their imagination to really engage with the past, to understand these are people that we're working with, or investigating. I think that skill is quite important, being able to empathise with the people of the past. I think it's interesting to realise that a field school is so much more than the act of physically digging. And I think academic projects, University projects, need to have a good underpinning strand of research. So the Field School is set up to do real research.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 secondsSo it's exciting. I haven't just got lots of students in a field learning how to dig just for the sake of learning how to dig. They're all helping add to our knowledge.

The field school

In this video, Amanda Clarke explains why an excavation is more than just digging.

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This video is from the free online course:

Archaeology: from Dig to Lab and Beyond

University of Reading