Excavations and field walking

Leicestershire YAC routinely gets unique opportunities to take part in real archaeological excavations and field walking thanks to our close links with the University of Leicester, University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) and the Leicestershire Fieldworkers.

Every year we get the opportunity to join the University of Leicester’s archaeological fieldschool as well as many of their other projects. In recent years our members have dug at Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, Bradgate Park (the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey), Oakham Castle and the Knights Hospitaller site at Castle Hill in Beaumont Leys. Our links with the Hallaton Field Work Group has also enabled us to take part in their annual excavations on Hare Pie Bank, the site of the lost medieval chapel of St Morrell as well as a medieval windmill and earlier Roman and Iron Age activity.

  • Children excavating a collapsed wall of a medieval brewhouse at Oakham Castle.
  • Children learning how to draw archaeological plans during an excavation of a medieval hunting lodge at Bradgate Park.
  • Children excavating soil from a demolished wall in the ruins of Bradgate House, the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey.
  • Children looking for artefacts whilst sieving soil on a spoil heap during an archaeological excavation at Burrough Hill Iron Age hill fort.
  • Children washing archaeological finds during an excavation at Bradgate Park.
  • Children excavating soil under the supervision of an adult archaeologist at a post-medieval stable block in Bradgate Park.
  • Children excavating in an archaeological trench on Hare Pie Bank at Hallaton.

We also try to go field walking every autumn (weather permitting). Field walking is the systematic recovery and recording of artefacts found on the surface of ploughed fields in order to build up a picture of past human activity in the area. Its a great activity for our members, it gets us outdoors in all weathers and it can be carried out by people of all ages, who do not need to have any previous archaeological experience.

We have also taken part in research projects digging test-pits (1m square sample excavations) in several Leicestershire villages, including Anstey, Whitwick, Rothley (all part of the Charnwood Roots project) and Market Bosworth (the Bosworth Links project). Like field walking, test-pits are dug systematically to recover and record artefacts which tell us about past activity in the area. They are quick and easy to dig and are perfect for exploring back gardens and other small spaces within built up areas.

Watch these great videos about the Bosworth Links project, narrated by our Branch Leader Mathew, to find out more about test-pitting and see our club in action.