Ailsa Westgarth is a project manager at a commercial archaeology company with offices in Scotland and England. She is currently undertaking an MLitt in archaeological studies, fitting her course work around her day job.
Thanks to the wonder of 1990’s television that was Time Team, I knew from the age of 12 that I was going to be an archaeologist and that’s exactly what I did. I’m pleased to say I still have the same passion for the subject I did back then!
After studying archaeology at University of Bradford, I started work in developer-led archaeology. My commercial career has given me the chance to work all over the UK on a wide variety of types of site and periods. I’ve been lucky enough to work on sites on Hadrian’s Wall, excavate mammoth tusks and handaxes in Norfolk, find a “lost” late Saxon burial ground in Oxfordshire and a Mesolithic flint scatter in Cumbria among many others.
I decided to study at UHI because I wanted to improve my knowledge of Scottish archaeology, having mainly worked in England, and I loved the fact I could fit in my studies around work, log in from anywhere in the UK, while getting to choose to take modules based on some of my interests.
I really don’t think I could choose a favourite period so the MLitt Archaeological Studies has let me learn more without trying to choose one area of study.
I was really nervous enrolling and worried about studying and writing essays for the first time in 18 years, but everyone in the department was really helpful and supportive – happy to give advice and feedback to help me build confidence in my abilities.
I’m part way through my second year and the department has been amazing, helping support me in my studies around my move back to England and into a project manager role.
Studying at UHI has also really helped with my day job, in ways I didn’t expect! My general writing and understanding of research skills have really improved and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the digital analysis module and look at the ways I can use digital techniques and datasets to supplement the data gained in the field.