School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Fieldwork

Fieldwork

About

Fieldwork experience is vital if you want to work in archaeology after you graduate. It's also a great opportunity to develop a range of skills such as teamwork and problem-solving.

You'll complete at least four weeks of field placement on an approved project.

We organise fieldwork in the summer vacations at the end of Stages 1 and 2. Work experience in a museum or other heritage organisations may also be possible in Stage 2.

We offer financial support to many of our students during their placements.

Download our fieldwork requirements. (PDF: 182 KB)

For further information, contact Dr Caron Newman.

Current Field Projects

As part of your degree you will take part in staff field projects. Here are some example projects that students are involved in.

The Lateran Project

The Lateran Project is co-directed by Professor Ian Haynes (Newcastle) and Professor Paolo Liverani (Florence). Newcastle students join the research team in this project.

You'll investigate the scavi ('the excavations') underneath the Pope's Cathedral, the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome.

In many areas, mosaics survive on the floors and frescos decorate the walls. Excavations over the centuries have revealed:

  • traces of the first building ever constructed for public Christian worship
  • the remains of barracks of the emperor's horseguard
  • palatial housing
  • a bath complex

Find out more about the Lantern Project. 

The Lufton Villa and its Landscape

This project is directed by Dr James Gerrard.

The villa at Lufton in Somerset is a late Roman structure. It was first excavated in the middle of the 20th century by Leonard Hayward, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

At that time they found many mosaic pavements, a large octagonal bathhouse and evidence for ‘squatter occupation’.

Dr Gerrard has been investigating this site since 2007. We have clarified the extent and size of the villa and have identified a previously unexplored archaeological landscape.

This landscape includes a deserted medieval settlement and a newly discovered settlement and associated fieldsystems. These are likely to be of late prehistoric and Roman date.

We did our first excavation in 2012. Newcastle undergraduates and members of the South Somerset Archaeological Research Group took part. They explored features identified by geophysical survey.

One of these features was a ring ditch. This seems to be all that remains of a Bronze Age roundhouse. We intend to carry our further work to extend our knowledge of this unique landscape.

Find out more about the Lufton Villa project.

Completed Field Projects

Find out about some of our completed projects.

Derwentcote

In 2012, we worked together with English Heritage to find out more about Derwentcote. This is the earliest and most complete steel-making furnace in Britain.

This project was directed by Dr Jane Webster of Newcastle University and Dr Rob Young of English Heritage.

Activity

Over the next four years, we investigated the row of workers’ cottages near the steelworks. The cottages were built in the 19th century.

The team looked for evidence about the way of life, and material world, of the people who lived there.

The first season of excavations took place in July and August 2012. About 26 students and volunteers from the local community joined the dig.

Future work

English Heritage hosted a master class in conservation techniques at Derwentcote. English Heritage are planning more training through the Heritage Skills Initiative. This aims to look at heritage conservation techniques to consolidate the exposed cottage ruins.

To take part in future excavations, contact jane.webster@ncl.ac.uk.

Visit the Derwentcote website.

Maryport Excavation

About 21 undergraduates and 12 postgraduates trained at the Maryport excavation in 2011 and 2012. The project was funded by Senhouse Museum Trust and Newcastle University.

Project background

The aim was to review the full extent of the famous Maryport pits, first uncovered in 870.

Discoveries in 2011 had shown that the famous Maryport altars had not been interred in an act of piety. They were in the pits, along with other stone, to act as ballast to support the timbers.

Our aspiration was to better understand the structure or structures these timbers represented.

Activity

By the end of 2012, we had identified 63 discrete pits. Most of these had been disturbed by antiquarian investigations, but the team unearthed one untouched pit. Not all the original pits contained altars, but this one did.

The altar was dedicated by Titus Attius Tutor, prefect of cohors I Baestasiorum. This regiment were stationed at Maryport from the mid AD 160s until the early 180s. 

Small fragments of several other altars were found, but only one other had traces of lettering on it. The altar find was exciting, but the interpretation of the pits and their immediate setting was the priority. 

An important breakthrough was the unearthing of a clutch of long cist burials. Two of these contained quartz pebbles.  This shows that the original occupants were probably interred following early Christian funerary rites. 

The acid soil meant that very little survived in the graves, but we did find:

  • fragments of tooth enamel
  • human bone
  • a mysterious wooden object
  • a fragment of textile
  • a necklace

The graves do not encroach on the area where the timber structures are. The implication is that they are contemporary and related somehow to one another.

This site was probably important to an early Christian community. Looking out across the Solway on a clear day you can see Whithorn, the cradle of Scottish Christianity. Perhaps this was why the site was chosen.

Read a news article about this dig and find out more in our Spring 2012 newsletter (PDF: 1.7MB).