York Archaeological Trust offer numerous ways for people to engage with archaeology, none more hands on than our annual Archaeology Live! training excavations. Each year, we carry out an excavation in the heart of York, investigating sites that feature deeply stratified, highly complex archaeological deposits. The excavation and recording is entirely funded and carried out by our team of trainees, this allows people to add their own chapters to York’s rich history.
The Archaeology Live! training excavations welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels to participate in the full range of excavation techniques, single context recording, finds processing, environmental sampling and buildings recording. Our courses also include specialist sessions that teach people how to recognise and date pottery, how to treat and conserve delicate artefacts and how to build and understand stratigraphic matrices. Guided tours of central York offer a unique opportunity to learn about York’s hidden, subterranean history and how the city’s past has affected it’s present form.
All of our training is delivered by professional field archaeologists, using the same methodology used on all the Trust’s excavations. Over the last 14 years, Archaeology Live! excavations have been held at St Leonard’s Place, St Mary’s, St Saviour’s Church, All Saints, North Street and Hungate, the largest developer-led excavation in York. Our trainees have worked on features as varied as Roman burials, Viking buildings complete with surviving timber, Victorian slum tenements and medieval occupation deposits. The 2013 season even saw the Archaeology Live! team re-discover the lost church of St. John the Baptist, which had been hidden for almost 450 years!
York’s archaeology is unparalleled in its preservation and complexity, our training digs aim to get people behind the scenes and in the midst of the excitement and discovery of an urban excavation. We run sessions in the spring, summer and autumn each year, alongside weekend courses at regular intervals. All our courses can be tailored to fit individual needs, from a one day taster to two weeks or more.
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Frequently Asked Questions regarding training
- How do I book a place?
Get in touch with us first to check if space is available. We will then send you a booking form (ideally via email) and for you to complete and return to us either in the post or by email.
- Can people with no previous digging experience take part?
Yes. The courses cater for beginners, but people with digging experience can learn a great deal from the courses. Anyone aged 16 years or over, and of any nationality, can take part.
- Do I need any special equipment?
All participants must have their own steel toe cap safety boots and wear full length trousers on site; other safety equipment will be provided. It is recommended that you buy a WHS 4″ pointing trowel (others will just break) if you intend to take part in other digs, but otherwise we have spare trowels. The information sent to you after you have booked includes details on what you need to bring.
- Is there an upper age limit, or any constraints due to physical ability?
No. York Archaeological Trust’s core aim is to provide archaeology for all. The work and teaching are designed to meet the needs of each individual. Provided we are notified in advance of any special requirements, we aim to cater for all.
- How do I get to the excavation?
York is well served by road and rail links, and can easily be reached from the major airports. The excavation is in the city centre and can be reached on foot by bus or taxi. Once you have completed a booking you will be sent further information regarding York and the excavation, including details of how to
- Do you provide accommodation?
We do not currently offer any inclusive accommodation. York has a wide range of accommodation options, a good place to begin your search is a discussion doc on our facebook page. Please feel free to add comments with any of your own recommendations.