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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Europe- UK - Penycloddiau Field School- 2016

Europe- UK - Penycloddiau Field School- 2016

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2016-07-17
End Date 2016-08-13

Archaeology Field School Location

Uk - Penycloddiau

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution

Institute for Field Research, University of Liverpool

Academic Credit

Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through our academic partner, University California Los Angeles.

Archaeology Field School Tuition


Archaeology Field School Room and Board

Included in tuition

Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

Tuition includes registration, accommodations, program activities, meals on workdays, and health insurance. Airfare, weekend meals and optional excursions are additional.

Archaeology Field School Description

The site of Penycloddiau is the second largest hillfort in Wales; at 21 ha, it is one of the largest prehistoric enclosures in the UK – bigger even than Mortimer Wheeler’s Maiden Castle. Penycloddiau is located on the Clwydian hill-range, in North Wales and at 430 meters above sea level the site provides spectacular views over the countryside of western Britain. The Clwydian range is home to a further six hillforts, all dating to the pre-Roman Iron Age. These hillforts are of two distinct types: large contour forts/enclosures (averaging 14 ha); and smaller D-shaped hillfort enclosures (averaging 3 ha). Previous work in the region suggests that the large contour types – like Penycloddiau – may be the earlier of the two hillfort types; as a result, our excavations are seeking to date the very origins of the hillfort in western Britain. The region has some of the earliest dates for the development of hillfort architecture in the UK – with strong indications now that the origins of this social phenomenon may lie in the Late Bronze Age, rather than the Iron Age itself. Through our excavations at Penycloddiau, we intend to discover when and why people first began to join together in these very large community-level groups, investigating this through the excavation of the social architecture itself. During our 2013 season, work focused on a 25 x 8 m trench across the hillfort’s large (2.5 m high) inner rampart, ditch, and smaller outer rampart. We resolved the late history of the site – revealing medieval and post-medieval pastoral/agricultural use of the monument – helping us achieve our cultural heritage management objectives, including providing a date (terminus post quem) for the excavation of a farm track through the monument earthworks. We removed all late collapse deposits bringing us down to Iron Age collapse and in situ rampart material. This revealed well-built stone wall revetments and an earthen core, the stone we believe quarried from the hillfort interior. The 2016 season will provide students with a solid understanding of the full range of practical and professional skills involved in the archaeological process. Through our excavations at Penycloddiau, we intend to discover when and why people first began to join together in these very large community-level groups. Our research will focus on the stratigraphy of the architecture, and its meaning for the evolution of community organization, social change, and everyday life at Penycloddiau and beyond.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Time Period


Field School Setting/Conditions

Archaeological field work involves physical work in the outdoors. You should be aware that conditions in the field are very different from those you experience in your home, dorms or college town. This program operates at in an upland environment in Wales, UK. The weather shift fast, from high heat to cold rain in the space of one day. The region is also occasionally susceptible to tics. As such, you will not be permitted to work in shorts and must bring long-sleeved tops, a sunhat, warm clothes, rain gear and work boots. If you have any medical concerns, please discuss them with your doctor. All other concerns, please discuss with the project director – as appropriate.

Directors and Instructors

Dr. Rachel Pope, University of Liverpool (

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn

The aim of this field school is to provide students with a solid understanding of the full range of practical skills involved in the archaeological process; alongside a good grounding in both pre-Roman Iron Age studies and British archaeological theory. In order to achieve this, the course has two key objectives: 1) to provide students with practical skills training in archaeological field methods – including single-context excavation and recording, drawing plans and sections, archaeological photography and illustration, finds processing, geophysics and topographic survey, environmental sampling and processing, the principles of stratigraphy and formation processes, health and safety concerns, and heritage management issues; and 2) to introduce students to the intellectual challenges presented by interpreting archaeology in the field, including issues surrounding research and project design, understanding the development of archaeological interpretations over time, the continual readjustment of hypotheses and strategies in the field, project reporting, and successfully working as part of a team. The course will take place on the site of Penycloddiau, on the Clwydian range – 20 miles west of the Roman city of Chester – and at the dig accommodation in the village of Burwardsley in Cheshire. We are also pleased to announce that excavations will be taking place at the neighbouring hillfort of Bodfari during the dates of the Penycloddiau field school – by the University of Oxford, under the direction of Professor Gary Lock – and we will be visiting this site, and also hosting a visit by the Oxford team. Students will participate in the following research activities: Excavation: Supervised training in excavation of an open-area section through the hillfort defenses. Survey: Geophysical survey of the hillfort interior utilizing magnetic and earth resistance techniques. Recording: Use of a leading single-context recording system, including context sheets and site drawings. Finds Processing: The correct packaging, recording and processing of finds. Laboratory: Lab tasks will include the processing of environmental samples. The course begins on Sunday, July 20 and will meet every weekday and for a half-day on Saturdays until August 15. The official end date of this field school is August 16 when students can travel back home or inward travels in the UK and beyond. Introductory lectures and site tour during the initial two days of the project will provide the cultural and archaeological background to the fieldwork. A series of lectures, fieldtrips, and an organized reading programme will allow detailed learning concerning the site-type, region and period.

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Call us toll free at +1 (877) 839-4374
Institute for Field Research office address:
2999 Overland Ave. #103, Los Angeles, CA 90064

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