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Place & Past Field School

The PLACE Field School is a Bournemouth University summer field school by current students and experienced archaeologists.The fieldwork takes place within Dorset, a county of outstanding natural beauty and one of the best preserved archaeological landscapes in Britain. This year the project is based in Purbeck, on the edge of Poole Harbour. 

The PLACE project is studying the the role that Dorset's ancient and historic communities played in networks of production, exchange and communication with the rest of Britain and the continent. Students from our range of archaeology courses are able to gain hands-on experience at a fascinating site, while anyone with an interest in archaeology, Dorset's history, or the project as a whole is welcome to join us for the excavation.

On the Purbeck site this year, we were hoping to gain insight into how harbourside communities developed over time and how those groups and individuals related to wider maritime connectivity and historical changes. The site features numerous workshops and industrial architecture that includes buildings, terraces and salt boiling hearths. The 2019 excavations have revealed an extensive array of previously unknown industrial remains that suggest that the site was a significant production centre which included a complex workshop that was burnt to the ground in a catastrophic fire shortly before the Norman conquest.

Radiocarbon dates from the site show that it was in use in the 10/11th century - just before the Norman conquest. The date places the site in an important period in British history, a time of power consolidation and rivalries between church and state. The site at Wytch Farm would have been an important source of monastic wealth, making it central to Britain’s real-life Game of Thrones.

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Since 2018 the PLACE Field School has been Bournemouth University's primary training dig, taking over from the Durotriges The Big Dig.

If you've applied for one of our undergraduate or postgraduate degrees or simply have an interest and want to get involved, why not come and join our excavation?

Read more about the 2015 dig that uncovered the prehistoric town, the 2016 dig during which we found a late Iron Age cemetery and a late or post Roman farming settlement, consisting of five buildings and associated kilns and ovens, dating to the period AD 300–450, and the 2017 excavation which told us more about every day life.

Please note: You must be aged 16 or over to take part.

Key information

Next start date:

June - July 2020 (with the open day - tbc)

Location:

Purbeck, Dorset

Duration:

26 days

Entry requirements:

No formal qualifications are required to attend the field school, which has been designed for students and participants (aged 16 years or over) who wish to gain experience in archaeological field practice.