Skip to main content

UKC students granted a great opportunity

Submitted by Fred Birkbeck on 19 January 2021
Dr Steve Willis of the University of Kent provides an update on a fieldwork grant awarded in 2019 to enable students from the university to attend a training dig in Lincolnshire.


Dr Steve Willis of the University of Kent has given us an update on a fieldwork grant awarded in 2019 to enable him to take students from the University on a training dig in Lincolnshire. The students may not have otherwise had an opportunity in 2020 to get some pracrical fieldwork training and the Society were glad to help.

Dr Willis said "The grant was extremely welcome. The students had a thoroughly enjoyable time. They learned quickly and became a very useful asset to the operation of the project over the three weeks". The students were delighted with the opportunity and it clearly had a good impact. They are bringing those skills back to Kent and will hopefully be future leaders in the research into the archaeology of the county. They've made a good start by joining the Society as student members.

Although grants have been suspended during the pandemic, we are hoping that we will be able to accept applications again in 2021 to continue supporting charitable, community and educational projects.

UKC student and KAS member Martha planning
University of Kent student and KAS member Martha plan drawing a Roman feature


Feedback to the KAS Fieldwork Committee

Martha writes: I came along on the dig in Lincolnshire as a way of furthering my experience of fieldwork, having previously dug at Otford and Homestall with student teams run by a couple of experienced archaeologists. Going to Lincolnshire, where the team wasn’t mostly made up of students, was a huge help in terms of me growing more into different tasks undertaken in fieldwork with the help of pointers from other diggers; I’d never thought spoons and ice-cream scoops would be helpful! Being in Lincolnshire enabled me to be present at the very start of a dig, with the measuring and marking out of a trench, and gave me a better idea of things to look for when trying to identify potential features within a trench. I also hadn’t before properly understood section drawings and context sheets, although I had briefly tried to do them before, but because I could have it walked through with me it seemed so much simpler and is much easier to enjoy now that I know what I’m doing; I was also able to do a large plan of one of the trenches.

As well as these, was the opportunity that I had to excavate things that I would have been unable to on other digs such as an intact bone hairpin and copper-alloy ring that I found myself, and I was also able to see my friend Dylan (a first time digger) excavate a whole pot in the oven flue we worked on. Steve very kindly let us excavate the soil from within the pot and check through it; while there were no coins it was great to find a small egg-shell fragment!

The biggest thanks to KAS for the funding that enabled me to go along for the full three weeks as it’s encouraged me further into going down the route of archaeology as opposed to classical studies; and it’s also made me think of doing a Masters degree here at Kent which I don’t think I would have considered otherwise.

Dylan writes: I was lucky enough to be invited along to the dig in Brookenby in Lincolnshire. This for me was an excellent experience as previous to this I was unsure of archaeology as a field of study for me as I tend to focus more on classical literature. Despite this I had experienced archaeology somewhat in reverse, having previously volunteered in finds identification and photography for the PAS in my home county, and I had helped with washing finds at the university from previous digs. The dig this summer (2020) at Lincolnshire was, as a result, my first experience of archaeological field work, and it really opened my eyes to the world of field archaeology.

I had the opportunity to participate in most aspects of the field work, expanding my understanding of what takes place on an excavation, especially section drawings and plans. I think that this was definitely helped by being in a group of volunteers, rather than an archaeology class, as I believe that my friend Martha and I were able to participate in activities (such as the section drawings and the full excavation of a pot) which we may not have been asked to do if we were among many students. On my first day of actually digging, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a fully intact pot and to excavate it alone (with Martha’s watchful eye). This was an incredible opportunity as I am aware of how rare of a find this is, and being able to do this on, not only my first excavation, but on my first day of digging threw me in at the deep end, and gave me an invaluable lesson in how to excavate with speed and care which I may not have had if we had simply found bone and pottery fragments.

Many thanks to the KAS for enabling me to go on this excavation through your funding. It has really encouraged me to continue to pursue archaeology at a Masters level, I will definitely continue to volunteer at digs which I am aware of in the future, which I don’t believe I would have done if I had not had this opportunity.


Kent Archaeology Society
Committee or Group