Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsHello. I'm Duncan Garrow, associate professor in the Department of Archaeology here at the University of Reading.

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsWelcome to Archaeology: From Dig To Lab And Beyond. We call this course a virtual field school, because we wanted to explain how the different elements of archaeological research connect up. We want to give you a sense of how it works out in the field. Of course archaeology is about excavation, but it's also about much more than that. We wanted to show you how those two things connect-- so what happens to the finds once they've been excavated, and then what do we do with them back in the lab, and then finally how do we store them and ensure that they're kept for posterity down the line.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsThis week we'll begin by thinking about how archaeologists actually know and decide where to dig in the first place. What makes us put the trenches in exactly the place that we do? We'll then go on to look at the excavation. Once those trenches are dug what happens in them and the kind of technologies involved that we bring into the process of excavation. We're going to focus mainly on our real, not virtual field school, in the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire. We'll be meeting Jim and Amanda, the dig directors, as well as Sean and Lily, a couple of students here at Reading who worked on the field school and found some amazing things.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsWe'll also have a look at some of the fantastic finds that we uncovered on the field school, before going on to looking at how we treat those finds back in the lab, and the kinds of interpretation that we can make from them. What does a particular thing tell us about the prehistoric period in the broader sense that we're interested in?

Welcome to our virtual field school

Over the last few years, the University of Reading, Archaeology Field School, carried out a series of excavations within the landscape between the famous prehistoric monuments of Avebury and Stonehenge, in the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire.

We will be showing you around that field school in the first week of this online course. We’ll explain how we decide where to dig and why, and show you the planning behind the scenes of such a large scale excavation. Then, we’ll take a closer look at the excavation site, but go beyond just the trowel and discuss the multitude of job roles and techniques involved. Finally, we’ll examine some of the astounding discoveries made and ask - what can they tell us about life in the Neolithic period?

In the second week, we will be heading forward in time about 3000 years to the medieval period. We’ll explore research which has been carried out on medieval teenagers through the analysis of hundreds of their skeletons from archaeological collections. What do these skeletons tell us about the life led by apprentices in medieval England?

Finally, we’ll discuss how our discoveries should be stored and displayed in order for them to be preserved for future generations.

The course is for everyone who has an enthusiastic curiosity in archaeology but it has been especially designed for those who would like to find out more about studying archaeology at university.

The team

Let’s introduce the educators from the Archaeology Department at the University of Reading, who will be acting as guides during this course. In Week 1 you will meet Duncan Garrow, Jim Leary and Amanda Clarke. In Week 2 you will also meet Mary Lewis.

The educators will be supported by our course mentors, who are PhD students in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading. Our mentors will be commenting throughout the course and so it’s worth following the mentors (click the link to their profile and then the pink button under their biography), to view their responses to common queries. They’ll answer questions where they can but we can’t promise that they’ll be able to respond to everyone. By following other profiles, any comments made will appear in your activity feed on your profile, which you can filter by ‘Following’.

Emily Carroll

Elaine Jamieson

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

1. Unlimited access to the course

Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

2. A Certificate of Achievement

To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible.

Find out more


Now you’ve met the team and know what to expect from the course, we’d really like to meet you.

What interests you most about archaeology? What are you hoping to gain from the course?

Share your answers in the comments area below and remember you can ‘Like’ and respond to those made by others.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Archaeology: from Dig to Lab and Beyond

University of Reading