My favourite aspect of the Archaeology department is probably the number of opportunities that are available both as part of the course and outside of it. Within the course, I was able to choose from a wide range of modules for second year. I settled on prehistory themes, mummification and human bones. The first year is the same for all students which lays a really good foundation. You can then specialise however you want with the different modules that are available. As part of the course, I also had the opportunity to go on the department dig! We took part in a 4 week excavation of a Roman fort in Malton. This was really fun and a completely new experience for me.
Outside of the course, ArchSoc (Archaeology Society) offers even more things to get involved with. These have ranged from organised trips to places like Rome, to formal balls, to regular finds washing and experimental archaeology sessions. My favourite has been a flint knapping exercise which gave me the chance to apply what I’d learnt and have a go at crafting flint tools (which is as difficult as it sounds!).
External speakers often visit and talk about a wide range of topics. They are normally live streamed as well so you won’t miss out if you can’t make one that you’re interested in. If you’d rather learn in a more casual setting, ArchSoc also organises “Pints and post holes” which involves speakers talking in local pubs. On top of all of this, the department sends out regular emails about any other opportunities that they are aware of. I think there is something for anyone interested in archaeology; whatever aspects appeals to you, there is likely a way for you to get involved.
Another thing to look forward to is King’s Manor, where the department is based. It is located in the city, away from the main campuses which is unique to the Archaeology department. The majority of lectures and seminars are here and it creates a real sense of community. If you’re interested in building or historical archaeology, King’s Manor itself has a long and vibrant history which makes it the perfect place for the department.
Being separate from the main campus has other benefits as well. The Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, York Art Gallery and St Mary’s Abbey are all within a 5 minute walk from King’s Manor. They can give you a nice break from studying! Museum Gardens has to be my favourite just because they are so nice to walk through, especially in summer. During the summer time, I’ve often noticed an ice cream stall in the gardens which is an added bonus!
Finally, the third aspect I have chosen is the people that make up the department. Both the staff and the students are really supportive. All of the archaeology students I’ve met have been super friendly. I’m sure that I have made some friends for life! The staff are absolutely amazing as well. The lectures and seminars are really engaging and they are taught by experts in their field. They are also really approachable and always happy to have a chat after a lecture or during their office hours. There is a thorough support network in place to help anyone who is struggling which makes sure everyone feels comfortable both with work and university life in general. This adds to the sense of community that York creates.
It was really hard for me to only pick three things about the department but I hope I’ve given you some insight into what studying archaeology is like in York.