Hi, I’m Louise! I’m a second-year BA Archaeology student at the University of York. I love archaeology because it combines history and practical skills, and I think York is the perfect place to study it. In this blog, I’ll tell you why, and also that you don’t need to have studied archaeology before!
One of the main reasons York is perfect for archaeological study is its history. This rich history began in 71 AD when the Roman army established the fort Eboracum. The current Minster is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with fine examples of mediaeval architecture. The location of the Roman legionary headquarters was just underneath!
Museum Gardens has the incredible remains of St. Mary’s Abbey, a monastery built in 1088, and the Multangular Tower, the corner tower of the Roman fort. You cannot go far without seeing a historic site. The entire city is even encircled by defensive walls, which are the longest in England. There are incredible sites all around you in York, making it the perfect place to study archaeology.
The Department of Archaeology is a unique place to study as it is the only one based in the city centre, at King’s Manor. Occasionally, I have classes on Campus West, but most of my time is spent at King’s Manor, which is easy to get to by walking or the bus. This building was originally an Abbott’s house. After Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, it became a key part of the government. Henry VIII himself actually stayed here! King’s Manor is stunning and easily one of my favourite things about studying archaeology at York.
York’s archaeology courses include lots of practical elements. These started in my first term when we would have seminars at the York Experimental Archeological Research (YEAR) Centre. The YEAR Centre is an immersive outdoor workspace. We got to try making objects like past societies would have! At the end of my first year, we even took part in an archaeological excavation. In my second year, I have been able to choose Practical Skills modules. The one I have been doing recently is Field Archaeology Survey Skills, where I have learnt how to undertake earthwork and geophysical surveys. These sessions were all practical, either in the field or on computers processing our own data. The staff are incredibly friendly and easy to talk to. Whenever I have questions, they are always so helpful. They take the time to improve your learning experience, and are more than willing to provide additional learning resources.
There is also plenty to get involved in outside of the course at York. Arch Soc (Archaeology Society) organises lots of archaeology-themed events! There is so much going on, including socials, a masquerade ball, murder-mystery dinners, and academic events like finds processing. There is something for everyone. I started going to ArchSoc in my first week. I then later decided to run to join the committee and have been President throughout my second year. The Department also has a weekly newsletter, telling you about everything going on – there’s plenty!
But I’ve never studied archaeology before!
Before coming to university, I had never studied archaeology before. A great thing about York’s archaeology courses is that the first year is really broad. It gives you a flavour of everything and doesn’t require prior knowledge. I really liked this format as it made me realise I was way more interested in the Stone Age when I thought I was going to be a Roman archaeologist! You can try everything and see what you are interested in while building a broad foundation of knowledge. However, if you would like a flavour of what it is like to study archaeology at York, there is an online course on Star Carr.
I hope you’ve found this post useful and you’re looking forward to studying archaeology at York! Want to know more? Read a few other blogs.