University of Leicester School of Archaeological Studies has teamed up with Brooksby Agricultural College to offer a new down-to-earth approach to training.
Staff and students from the School have literally mucked-in together with the aim of providing intensive instruction on various archaeological techniques - as well as improving 'bonding' between all those participating.
Dr Neil Christie, the Fieldschool Co-ordinator at the School of Archaeological Studies, said: "We organised a week-long training programme which aims to provide intensive instruction for first year students on a wide variety of surface, sub-surface and above-ground techniques.
"The initial season commenced with sixty first year students in BA and BSc Archaeology and in Ancient History and Archaeology. Such was its success that from the year 2000 the Fieldschool will run over two weeks with two separate student groups and including all second year joint honours students in the second week - a full 120 students in all.
"Naturally all staff in the School of Archaeological Studies are required to attend to allow for full coverage of the numerous techniques now utilised in the discipline - ranging from excavation and fieldwalking, to church planning and archaeobotanical analysis.
"Full staff attendance (with two staff per core activity with twelve students per activity) has, equally importantly, meant that students and staff get to know each other more rapidly and thereby foster an enhanced teaching and learning relationship. As a result both students and staff gained much from the experience - student evaluation questionnaires came back with suitably high praise and ratings for all aspects of the Fieldschool."
Dr Christie added that it was important that Brooksby was chosen as the site for the training: "The location and facilities at Brooksby Agricultural College further added to the value of the Fieldschool: excellent food and accommodation, a fine rural setting with core 17th century hall, adjoining landscaped gardens, plus fine medieval church and nearby remains of the deserted medieval village of Brooksby.
"As well as training students, the Fieldschool has a vital academic role: namely elucidating the history and archaeology of the Brooksby estate through excavation and survey work and then, in future seasons, of expanding the work to encompass the Wreake Valley, an important line of communication and resource zone north-east of Leicester, with an array of known archaeological sites (from the Iron Age fortress of Burrough Hill to the Anglo-Saxon village of Eye Kettleby, right up to the industrial heritage of the canals and railways)."
NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, contact Dr Christie (School of Archaeological Studies) on 0116 252 2617; or Brooksby College on 01664 434484..
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