University of Leicester eBulletin

University Centre Northampton Students Get Down to Earth to Uncover Local Village's Roman Past

August 2002
No 169

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Students from University of Leicester’s Centre in Northampton found labouring in hot sun and heavy rain very rewarding this summer. In a quiet spot on the hillside just above the Northampton village of Nether Heyford, they have worked to uncover the remains of a very interesting rural villa complex, which includes a very well-preserved bath-house, complete with surviving hypercaust system.

Archaeology has really taken off this year at the Centre in Barrack Road, Northampton, with the summer term culminating in this week-long fieldwork skills programme at Whitehall Farm Roman Villa in July. 

Stephen Young, Director of Excavations, made the week a very informative one in terms of local landscape development, and the Lifelong Learning students mingled with other undergraduates from Leicester as well as those from other institutions across the UK. Together with some volunteers from the locality, a total in excess of 50 people took part in this exciting and important local community archaeological project.

Activities included excavation techniques, surveying, finds analysis and archaeological drawing skills, all under the supervision of Kate Brimblecombe, who has been running an introductory course in archaeology at Barrack Road since September 2001 and is the new Course Director for the Certificate of Higher Education in Archaeology which will be running at the Centre from the Autumn.

Said Kate Brimblecombe: “When the course was finished, the students told me that they had had a very good grounding in the basics of field archaeology, and plenty of opportunity to get the feel of it. They all came away from the week feeling that they understood the basics of a dig and what you have to do on one. 

“They gained valuable insight into the problems and pitfalls of archaeology, and the need for patience and scrupulous good practice, careful observation and methodical approach. As one student said: 'I learnt as much as I could hope to learn in a week, and came away feeling I had actually done some real archaeology.

“This is excellent basis for studies leading to the Certificate in Higher Education in Archaeology, as it shows students the practical realities of archaeological problem-solving, and feeds into the wider theoretical issues which are taught in the lecture room.” 


· The University Centre Northampton is part of the University of Leicester’s Institute of Lifelong Learning (LILL), formerly the University’s Department of Adult Education. LILL was inaugurated by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Estelle Morris, in January 2002. UCN caters for over 2,000 part-time students. Many students attend courses initially for their own enjoyment, later undertaking certificate study.

· For further details concerning this project and Archaeology courses contact Kate Brimblecombe on 01604 893158.

· For details of all courses available at University Centre Northampton, ring 01604 251801.

· Project details can be found at: 

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Last updated: August 2002
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