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My archaeology work placement…and five reasons why you should do one too

I’m Jack Powell and I am studying archaeology at Bournemouth University. Since September I have been on a 40 week placement with the archaeology team at the New Forest National Park Authority.

After seeing some of the work the team undertake on social media and an academic poster at an archaeology conference held at the university, I saw the potential for learning a diverse range of knowledge and skills form working alongside the team.

The placement has been split into three main parts, and currently I’m working with Lawrence Shaw, the Heritage Mapping and Data officer. We are working on the Higher Level Stewardship Lidar surveys, and I am helping with preparing surveys, leading surveys on the day and data processing back at the office.


(Volunteer team selfie when surveying at Bolderwood)

This part of the placement has been fantastic as I have been able to see how surveys are conducted from start to finish as well as identifying archaeological features in the Lidar and then seeing them in person. I’ve also enjoyed working with the volunteers, who have a wealth of local knowledge and passion for archaeology. One of my favourite features I have seen so far on the surveys was the Bronze Age barrows south of Setley Pond. These barrows are fantastic examples of burial mounds and are very visible in the Lidar.


(A Lidar image of the Bronze Age barrows at Setley. The barrows can be seen clearly, with the largest barrow in the centre of the image with three smaller barrows just to the left)

5 reasons to do a placement

  • Learn new skills
  • Use the theory you have learnt at university in practical ways out on the ground
  • Gaining skills that can help you in all sorts of areas in your work and home life
  • Enjoy opportunities that you just wouldn’t get from university alone
  • Gain contacts through networking which may give you exciting opportunities after university.

I began the year working with National Park archaeologist Frank Green. One of the projects I worked on with Frank was revisiting the New Forest Monument Management and Protection Report. This involved looking at aspects of the report which detailed unscheduled monuments within the National Park which are potentially of national importance.

My task was to extract the data and present it in an updated format. Using mapping software I was able to create a range of maps showing the locations of these monuments as well as a detailed database of them. Undertaking this project gave me a great introduction to the range of interesting monuments spanning from the Bronze Age to the Second World War which are found within the National Park.

The third and final part of my placement will be a research project, where I will be setting research questions, conducting research and completing a report using all the skills and knowledge I have gained in the last six months.


(Volunteer Mike Osbourne recording one of the Bronze Age Barrows at Setley Pond)

This placement with the National Park Authority has been extremely beneficial, as it has allowed me to gain key transferable skills such as project planning, time management, analytical skills and presentation skills, as well as more subject specific skills such and Lidar analysis, mapping and feature identification.

Gaining all these skills has set me up well for my final year of university and really improved my future career prospects. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far on placement and I would like to thank the archaeology team, especially Lawrence and Frank, for all the help and support. I’ve grown very fond of the New Forest, and hope to carry on learning new and interesting things about this fascinating landscape even after I finish my placement.

So how did Jack do?


Lawrence Shaw, Heritage Mapping Officer, said: ‘Jack has been a tremendous addition to the National Park archaeology team, showing great initiative and interest in everything that he has worked on.

‘He has really shown how a placement student can undertake professional work to a high level, as well as contribute a huge amount to the team, and I hope that the skills and knowledge he has gained will set him up well for future employment.

‘We look forward to having future placement students that are as engaged and interested as he has been.’

Learn more about the New Forest’s fascinating archaeology

This entry was posted by Matt Stroud on Wednesday 08/04/2015

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