School Student Placement at UHI Archaeology Institute

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The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute works with schools across Scotland to provide work experience placements for pupils.

Last week we welcomed Cara, an S3 student from Plockton, to Orkney who immediately got to work within The Institute and….well let Cara take up the story because one of her tasks was to write a blog post……………

“My name is Cara and I’ve just completed my work experience with the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute.

During the course of three amazing days, I have been able to take part in a wide variety of jobs. These included finds washing, environmental sample processing, environmental sample sorting, doing research on sites using various maps and lots of geophysics data and learning about archaeology and media as well as writing a blog post about my experience here.

DSC_0017On my first day, I was able to do some finds washing. It was very exciting to see what was underneath the layer of mud and I really enjoyed it. In amongst all the finds was a seal bone and a sheep jaw as well as many other interesting things. I really enjoyed doing this job and would love to do it again.

On the second day, I did some environmental sample processing. This was great, it was very hands on and very messy. We managed to get some good charcoal samples from it which will be helpful in finding out new facts about the site it came from. We also put the remaining stones on a tray to dry to later be sorted. Later that day I did some environmental sample sorting, this task focused on the tiny pieces of bone, charcoal and other tiny things found at the site. You basically sieve through the samples that have already been processed and pick out any pieces of bone and other interesting materials. Then you do the same with the smaller pieces until there are only stones left. I found this lots of fun and learnt a lot from the experience.

Today (Friday 2nd June) I used lots of maps and data to research an area of my choice on Orkney to see how they determine if a site is worth excavating or not. I got to see the huge amount of reports and written descriptions of sites that they have as well as all the geophysics data they use to see under the earth and determine if there is anything there worth digging for. I had a great time looking at all the data and found it all very helpful in my research.

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Cara also worked with our resident Archaeology Cat and took this photograph to post on our Twitter feed!

Finally, I got to see the media side of archaeology and how they show what they have been doing to the world. I was amazed about how many people they can reach with a single post and learnt a lot about how they can use social media such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as well as their blog. I was able to go out and take lots of photos which are being used in this post and also got to write this article.

During the three days, I spent here I met lots of amazing people who were all willing to show me what they do and how they do it. They were all very helpful and I learnt a lot from them and my time here. I enjoyed it here so much and will love to come back and study here.”

Many thanks Cara. We look forward to seeing you very soon.


If you are interested in archaeology and want to study the subject then please contact us on studyarchaeology@uhi.ac.uk. We have courses from Acces, evening and field courses through undergraduate to postgraduate research options. See our guide on this blog at https://archaeologyorkney.com/courses/