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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Europe - England - Saveock Water Archaeology Field School - Cornwall England - 2011

Europe - England - Saveock Water Archaeology Field School - Cornwall England - 2011

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Start Date 2011-06-05
End Date 2011-08-25

Multiple Sessions YES
Multiple Session information

June 5-9
June 12-16
June 19-23
June 26-30
July 3-7
July 10-14
July 17-21
July 24-28
July 31-August 4
August 7-11
August 14-18
August 21-25

Archaeology Field School Location

Saveock Mill,
Truro, Cornwall TR4 8QQ

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution

Accredited with universities in Britain.

Academic Credit

Variable to program

Archaeology Field School Tuition

£195 per week
(£220 per week includes lunch)

Archaeology Field School Room and Board

None provided. Local B&B next door, Backpackers hostel and B&B hotels are located in Chacewater and Truro. Student is responsible for room and board.

Archaeology Field School Travel
Transportation, Tuition, Lodging, Board
Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

A Tuition packet is available with lunches included for £220 per week. Otherwise cost is £195 per week if student packs their own lunch. No additional fees required - all equipment and tools provided on site.

Archaeology Field School Description

Well we have finished our tenth season at Saveock and as usual it has created more questions about what was going on here than answers! The excavation of pit 42 the Goat pit dating from post 1970’s was to say the least a bit of a shock. To find that we have dating for 350 years of this very secret pagan practice going on in this valley is extraordinary to say the least. That is roughly 15 generations of this practice of pit offerings. Also the fact that in the 1970’s pit its contents were covered with the same crystal rich lilac coloured sand before being filled in the same as the 1640’s Swan pit is fascinating. Particularly because the sand is not found in the local geology. This shows that the oral tradition of the pit depositors was very much in tact from generation to generation. We have now excavated 55 pits, but have radio carbon dates due to lack of funding for very few so we might have even earlier dates for them.

We are now taking bookings for next season, unfortunately our prices have to go up due to financial constraints and that we are going to be offering a PayPal facility, so it will be £195 per week and an optional extra £25 per week if you want lunches. Otherwise you can bring a packed lunch.

You will also be able to buy signed copies of my books ‘Prehistoric Cooking’ and ‘Tasting the Past’ direct from me using PayPal.

Again I feel I need to emphasise that this dig is a training dig, but it is training out in the field not in a lecture room. Novice diggers will for the first few days be digging topsoil, but it will be topsoil we have not dug before so you will be doing real archaeology from day one. If it is wet we will do post excavation work which is just as important to any dig as trowelling is.

We believe that the best place to learn is in the field doing what professional archaeologists do. Class room teaching is no substitute for getting your hands dirty and emptying buckets. We do have set features on site to teach section drawing and planning but these are real features not made up ones. You will be taught on a one to one basis how to plan on a very tricky part of the main site and at the end of the day we lay your plan over the one we have done of the feature so you can really learn how to plan. It is no good telling someone their test plan is great and then they go to another dig with a feeling they are brilliant at planning only to find they have a bit more to learn about the subject. Learning excavation techniques is not rocket science but after a bit of practice in the field everyone can do it.

Once a week we do spend an hour in my lecture room with a slide show of the other work I do which is Experimental Archaeology. I worked on the ‘Ice Man’ ‘Otzi’ artefacts for the museum where he is exhibited in Italy and this is featured in the talk.

There is a tour of our facilities page, so you can see we are not a Porta cabin in a muddy field. We are a well equipped research excavation that believes archaeology should be available to anyone who wants to learn how to dig.

For those of you new to the site for the first time here is a brief synopsis of the earlier phase of the excavation in this sheltered river valley in Mid Cornwall. The site covers a period from the Mesolithic to 17th century Pagan Swan feather pits (more information about these can be found by clicking on the link in the Feather Pits, and Goat pit sections on the right of this page).

In the Mesolithic the main site trench was over a south facing peat bank on the bend of a river that was between two shallow lakes. This entire site has been purposely covered with various different coloured clays in an attempt to make the river bank a suitable place for dwellings. In the area A/2 the first phase of the site, is what we believe to be a Mesolithic dwelling platform covered with dense green clay surrounded by stony yellow clay in which the stakes to support the dwelling were driven. The next phase we believe (and the jury is still out on this) is the use of the constant spring line to make some sort of Neolithic ritual area. We say ritual because we cannot think of any conceivable reason why people would make stone lined drains covered with 30cm of green admix clay. Then manufacture a large rectangular pool lined with white quartz cores, unless it was for some ritual purpose. In season five (2005) we found another rectangular pool next to the original this one only fills with water from a spring in the bank at the back of it in mid Winter.

These features are at present unique in Cornish or from what we have researched British archaeology. The only similar feature we have found is the Neolithic clay platform that is underneath the Maeshowe monument on Orkney. A trench put into this platform revealed a stone lined drain almost identical to ours. So if you feel like a bit of adventure and learn how to dig at the same time come and join us in our 11th season.

Jacqui Wood

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type

Excavation Fieldwork, Post Excavation Work, Some Lab and Conservation

Time Period

Mesolithic to 17th century Pagan Swan feather pits

Field School Setting/Conditions

Payment options: Cheque or Paypal

No Experience necessary, you will be trained on site.

How is the project area accessed each day

There is limited car parking lot on site for those commuting by vehicle; those staying at the B&B next door have a footpath access back and forth to the site, A footpath is available from the Greenbottom train station,

What is the daily schedule for the field school

Sunday through Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm.

Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation
10 Years. Beginning 11th Year.
Is there a professional certification for this field school


Directors and Instructors

Jacqui Wood, Director
Thomas Baurley, Archaeologist

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn

Excavation, Wet and dry screening, Conservation, Artifact Analysis, Experimental Archaeology, Roundhouse Construction, Mapping, Profiling, etc.

On rain days will there be lab work?

Rain Days work in Lab

Will there be additional organized activities?

On occasion extracurricular activities are provided including presentations, demonstrations, experimental archaeology, and/or field trips depending on session.

Is travel restriced during free time?


Other resources students will find useful

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Saveock Water Archaeology
Jacqui Wood
Saveock Mill, Greenbottom, Truro, Cornwall TR4 8QQ
Telephone: 01872 560351

Field School Contact E-mail:
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Field School Contact Website:

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