VOLUNTEER PROJECTS


All our projects are now fully booked and underway.

We are currently not accepting registrations for more volunteers. 

 

We are still arranging projects with external organisations.
These will be posted here as they become available. 

 

British prehistory is famous for producing almost no naturalistic art: there are just half-a-dozen human figures from the entire Neolithic and Bronze Age. But what does get produced in an abundance is geometric decoration—on pots, wood, bronze, gold, jet, textiles, rock art, and more.

 

Curiously, there are some parallels between unrelated materials. Just where all these designs come from has been subject to some speculation, but no one appears to have attempted a big, cross-media survey before.

 

The team will build a corpus of decorated materials and deliberately crafted objects, then look for patterns and borrowings across different media. They will also discuss why these borrowings might have happened and what they tell us about prehistoric values. 

Commercial archaeology in the UK is increasing use of digital technology. One key piece of kit are digital pads to record data on site. While there are many designs now available, few are suitable for the conditions that archaeologists face—rugged, mud-resistant, shatter-proof and suitable for all weathers. Finding suitable products is hard for units with limited resources. 

 

In this project, the team will gather data about available models, highlighting those which may be suitable for use on archaeological sites. 

 

The output will be a free report, available publicly, so units and self-employed archaeologists have access to information they need to move to a digital recording environment. 

 

We are looking for 4–6 people, ideally with some experience of IT hardware or digital recording (but switched on people will be considered too!). Project starts Monday 4 May and lasts two weeks. 

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Sheep were a key industry in rural Scotland for hundreds of years. It has left a legacy of structures across southern Scotland, which has been only patchily recorded.

 

This project will map the sheepfolds and other sheep management facilities in one geographically distinct area of southern Scotland: the Lammermuirs. The team will use aerial photographs and search lidar data. The project will also gather data on where the different types of sheepfolds, how they were positioned in the landscape, and how they related to other resources (like water, and farm buildings, and trackways up onto the moors). Finally, because sheepfolds changed form over time—earlier ones are typically circular, whereas more modern ones are larger and rectangular—it is possible to say something about changing patterns in this landscape.

British prehistory is famous for producing almost no naturalistic art: there are just half-a-dozen human figures from the entire Neolithic and Bronze Age. But what does get produced in an abundance is geometric decoration—on pots, wood, bronze, gold, jet, textiles, rock art, and more.

 

Curiously, there are some parallels between unrelated materials. Just where all these designs come from has been subject to some speculation, but no one appears to have attempted a big, cross-media survey before.

 

The team will build a corpus of decorated materials and deliberately crafted objects, then look for patterns and borrowings across different media. They will also discuss why these borrowings might have happened and what they tell us about prehistoric values. 

Aurochs were a species of huge prehistoric cattle, from which modern domesticated cattle are descended. It is uncertain when they became extinct in Britain: they certainly survived until about 1500 BC, but may even have lingered on until the Late Iron Age.  

The goal of this project is to find all the excavated examples of aurochs from late prehistoric Britain (3000 BC and later). The project will also gather basic information about the types of landscapes they inhabited and the forms of pressure they were under.

The product will be a gazetteer of sites, along with dating evidence and landscape data. An article or grey literature report may also be written.

It is nearly twenty years since the last major synthesis of Early and Middle Saxon buildings in Britain, and in those two decades, commercial archaeology has uncovered many more examples. 

Saxon houses developed over the eight hundred years from the Migration period to the Norman Conquest

 

This project will draw together plans and records from recent excavations, to build on the existing databases. It will also gather dating and location data, so there scope to explore regional variations and changes over time.  

No knowledge of Saxon building techniques will be required. 

Henges are found mostly in the east of England, from Northumberland to Sussex, although a few are also known in Scotland and Wales. They seem to serve a similar function to stone circles in the west. About 300 survive above ground, but an increasing number of ploughed-out examples are being discovered through commercial excavation, lidar and aerial photography. A small number also contain the remains of timber circles. 

This project will collate recent data from across Britain to expand the existing national database. Volunteers will collate basic features of these henges, such as their size and orientation, along with data such as their date and types of finds recovered. 

Roman planting trenches are found across the east of England. They appear to be limited to the first century AD. They consist of parallel rows of shallow trenches, usually rectangular in section. The rows are spaced 3–10 metres apart, often in fields that are roughly square.

While these strips have been recognised for decades, there is much we do not know about them such as (1) their distribution (2) what period they were in use (3) what they were used to grow (4) how they were organised (5) who was making them.

This project will collect basic information about them and publish a database and analysis of their characteristics. 

There has long been disagreement about how ​far Roman law operated in Roman Britain. While a small number of legal documents have been excavated, we do not know how extensively Roman laws were imposed on the native population. 

One useful indicator is in the changing patterns of corporal punishment and interpersonal violence. 

This project will gather data on injuries from excavated graves. The project will cover the Roman period, and compare it with data for the preceding Middle and Late Iron Ages, along with the Early Saxon period.

 

No expert knowledge of human osteology is required. 

Artefacts buried in Roman and Saxon graves have been studied for over a century. Their distribution socially and across the landscape is far less well understood. There are many local variations whose significance is unclear. 

The goal of this project is to build up a detailed database of gravegoods for the period AD 43 to c.600, along with other data from skeletons. The goal will be a complete inventory—starting with one county to begin with (Cambridgeshire), but expanding elsewhere if enough people volunteer. 

The products will be publicly-accessible databases, and an initial analysis of patterns found. 

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