VOLUNTEER PROJECTS

We are currently only seeking volunteers for our two digital projects:
Rapid Review of Digital Pads and Information Flows. 

All our other ten 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. 

 

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. 

The process of archaeology is as much about generating and transforming information as it is about digging and sampling. As information flows through the system—from site, to analysis, through site publication, into wider research and syntheses—information can be both enriched and degraded.

 

The way commercial archaeology i the UK manages information is changing rapidly: some is paper-based (e.g. context sheets, site monographs) and some is increasingly digitised (e.g. survey, specialist databases). This mix is leading to double-handling and information degradation at key points (particularly where digital data is transformed back into paper formats). 

To help archaeological units improve the flow of information, this project will map the entire information system, and highlight key blockages.  

We are looking for about 6 people, prefereably with project management or post-excavation experience. The project starts Tuesday 5 May and will last two weeks. 

Come back shortly for details of our next digital project. 

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. 

This project is synthesising environmental records with archaeological data from the Humberhead Levels to demonstrate the landscape’s evolution, and investigate archaeological datasets over time. The project examines relationships between humans and the environment to understand how people in the past, lived, moved and exploited previously common British wetland landscapes. The project spans the Mesolithic to Anglo-Saxon periods.

 

The team is looking for volunteers to help with the archaeological database. This will involve adding new information to flesh out the existing data, checking information and then doing some initial analyses on artefact types.

This project is run collaboratively between the Universities of Glasgow, Plymouth, Birmingham, Hull and University College Cork. For more details visit the project website

Come back shortly for details of our next external project. 

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.

Barrows were built over the graves of the dead in the Early and Middle Bronze Age. Around 60,000 barrows surviving in Britain. There has, however, been a long debate on why barrows were positioned where they were in the landscape. Some people have thought their locations were selected to be visible to the living—possibly to keep the dead in memory. Others though have suggested that the dead still had a role to play in their communities, guarding the land and watching over important places.

 

This project will explore whether these different roles can be distinguished using GIS.

The team will use data generously provided by Dartmoor National Park to explore barrows and their surroundings in one of Britain's best-preserved Bronze Age landscape. 

It is a little appreciated fact that coal was widely used in Roman Britain. There have been several national surveys which have identified broadly where coal was used and what it was used for in Roman Britannia. But we lack a fine-grain picture of how coal was being used within a specific region. 

 

This project use the reports gathered by the Roman Rural Settlement Project (RRSP) to explore two or three counties to identify all of the sites where coal has been reported. The team will analyse the type of processes it was used in, how it might have been transported, along with the types of social groups which had access to coal for heating cooking and industry.

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 cultivation beds 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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