Post-excavation Courses

Have you ever wondered what happens after an excavation has been completed?

The UK is home to many community archaeology projects and training digs, although very few deal with the work that happens between fieldwork and publication. As an educational charity, all at York Archaeological Trust are passionate about engaging the public in all aspects of archaeological research. In 2015, we will be adding a new course to our training porfolio; an introduction to post-excavation.


What is post-excavation?

Anyone who has dug with us or followed our blog will be aware that our work creates a lot of paperwork! Single context recording breaks down complex layers of urban deposition into individual events, or contexts, that are excavated in reverse chronological order. For example, if a medieval person digs a rubbish pit in their yard, half fills it with refuse and then tops it off with clay to mask the smell, we have three contexts – a clay capping, a refuse layer and a pit cut. Each of these will be cleaned, photographed, drawn in plan, levelled, described on a context card and added to a stratigraphic matrix. These days we use a combination of hand-drawn plans, GPS survey, paper records and digital records; this makes for a lot of paperwork!


The post-excavation process sees all of this data being cross-referenced, checked, digitised and analysed. All of which sounds far more complicated than it actually is!

During our post-excavation courses, we will take a small team of trainees through each step of the process. This will involve scanning and uploading plans and context cards to a digital database, creating a digital stratigraphic matrix, digitising and manipulating plans to create report illustrations, carrying out an assessment of ceramic finds, analysis and interpretation of the stratigraphic sequence among numerous other tasks. The training will be delivered by professional archaeologists and will be based in nice, warm offices with a tea room close-by. Thankfully, archaeology isn’t always wet and muddy!

No experience is required and people of all ages (14+) and backgrounds are welcome.

When and where are the courses held?

The courses will take place across YAT’s York HQ, Dig and at All Saints Church, North Street, York and will last for one week. The dates will be confirmed early in 2015, they will initially operate on an ‘out-of-season’ base and will not overlap with our training dig. A one week course will cost £150.

The post-excavation courses give you the opportunity to get your name on an archaeological assessment report and experience a side of the profession that normally takes place behind closed doors. A PDF copy of the report will be sent to everyone who completes the course.

For bookings or further enquiries, please contact

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