Postcard: Dr Rachel Pope and Dr Andy Shuttleworth in North Wales


The team, made up largely of students from the UK and abroad, excavated the Iron Age Hillfort of Penycloddiau in North Wales

Dr Rachel Pope is Lecturer in European Prehistory and Director of Fieldwork, and Dr Andy Shuttleworth is a Researcher in Prehistoric Social Behaviour of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic,  in the University of Liverpool’s School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology

“The site we were working on is  the Iron Age Hillfort of Penycloddiau (PEN-CLOD-EE-EYE), the largest such site in the Clwydian Range of North Wales and one of the largest Hillfort sites in Britain, at 21 hectares. To put that into context, it’s the same area as about 19 football pitches.

“From its spectacular hilltop location, our field school (directed by Dr Rachel Pope and Richard Mason) provides students with a solid understanding of the full range of practical skills involved in the archaeological process: from single-context stratigraphic excavation/recording, to technical drawing skills; geophysics and topographic survey to archaeological photography and illustration; as well as finds handling and environmental sampling/processing

“Previous work suggests that similar large contour enclosures may be a very early type (c. 800-400 BC); as a result, our excavations aimed to help date the very origins of the hillfort in western Britain.


A panorama of the trench showing archaeology in action

“But this was not your typical archaeological dig, as the majority of the excavators were digging for the first time. Being around first time excavators is a treat and this year was exceptional as we had a truly international team. Ten students travelled from North America to take part in the Liverpool Archaeology Field School (LAFS) alongside our own students.

“The students, of course, deserve most of the credit for the work carried out on the dig, with the structure of the hillfort’s inner rampart now exposed. They worked hard. They applied the theoretical knowledge of the lecture room to the field. They became, in short, Archaeologists.

“With the team consisting not only of ‘straight’ Archaeology students but also Egyptologists, Ancient Historians, and Evolutionary Anthropologists, we are proud that students recognised the value in learning basic practical skills that they could take forward in their future careers.

“It was fantastic to teach and work alongside a new generation of archaeologists who will take our field into the future.”


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