The Bronze Age in Britain began in roughly 2400 BC, and continued up until 800 BC. It was a time of significant change across the country; the advent of metalworking saw an increased use of copper and bronze tools which would ultimately replace the stone tools used by their forebears, alongside the flourishing of new ‘Beaker’ pottery and changes in burial practice towards interring individuals with rich grave assemblages. The Bronze Age saw significant growth in agriculture and settlement, with sites such as Flag Fen, Must Farm, Avebury, Silbury Hill and most famously Stonehenge, whose iconic circle of sarsen and blue stones was first erected around 2500 BC in the centre of a previous Neolithic monument and continued to undergo rearrangement over the next several centuries.

Recently, Past to Present Archaeology began a new research initiative to study the Bronze Age communities of Western Suffolk. The project aims to add to the increasing amount of research-led archaeological investigation of Bronze Age Britain to help us to better understand how those inhabiting Prehistoric Suffolk lived, farmed, created and used tools, and honoured their dead.

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Situated within a 15-minute drive from Bury St Edmunds, our field school experiences are perfectly suited to students aiming to increase their archaeological understanding as well as archaeology enthusiasts. Whether you wish to enhance your archaeological skills passport or simply desire to have an archaeological adventure, this is the perfect opportunity for you to train with our team of experienced archaeologists who will guide you and nurture your passion for archaeology. Volunteers are welcome to travel to site from the surrounding towns and villages, or you can choose to camp alongside our team during the two-week project. We look forward to seeing you there!

The summer of 2021 marked the breaking of ground on this long-term research project. Four exploratory trenches were dug among a landscape filled with prehistoric enclosures and Roman forts around Bury St Edmunds. Within the trenches our team of archaeologists and volunteers investigated a cluster of large ring ditches that had been revealed through extensive geophysical survey, and thought to be either evidence of a Bronze Age barrow cemetery or enclosure ditches to a settlement. Our first season of archaeological work aimed to characterise these ancient monuments through dateable evidence, and in doing so we learned that these ring ditches were likely associated with both prehistoric settlement, possibly acting as enclosures around houses, and barrow cemeteries.

Our 2022 season aims to further explore the features and monuments examined last year to achieve a more concrete understanding of their purpose and contribute to the wider discussion around Bronze Age settlement in Suffolk and Prehistoric Britain. We are also pleased to welcome back volunteers to become involved again in this exciting project!

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Join the Discovery

Project Dates

Week 1: Sunday 21st August 2022 – Friday 26th August 2022

Week 2: Sunday 28th August 2022 – Friday 2nd September 2022

Our 1 week experience is offered at £400 per person or a 2 week experience at £750 per person.

 

You will receive archaeological training and instruction in:

  • Site conduct and health and safety considerations
  • Setting out archaeological grids for excavation, fieldwalking etc.
  • Clean and identify archaeological features and deposits
  • Stratigraphic excavation and recording
  • Maintaining accurate site records
  • Archaeological photography
  • Archaeological interpretation
  • Drawing archaeological plans and sections to appropriate scales
  • Archaeological survey with Leica GPS
  • Environmental sampling strategies
  • OSL Dating practices
  • Artefact retrieval and finds cataloguing 
  • Dry sieving for flints

 

Additional Project Activities and Events

  • There will be a weekly evening lecture (lectures TBC, and published soon)
  • Finds handling and discussions
  • Flintworking training
  • Finally, a group visit to the local pub for some grub

 

Catering and Board

  • A light lunch will be provided each day of the field school, including sandwiches, fruit, drinks, etc.
  • Drinks and biscuits will be provided during breaks each day of the field school
  • Participants are welcome to bring their own food and drinks with them to have on breaks as well
  • We have limited camping availability if you would like to stay on site with our team. Camping will cost £50 a week. If you would like to include camping in your experience package, you can choose this option on the bookings page

Shorter Experience Packages

If you cannot join us for a whole week, but would still like to get involved, why not join us for 2 days instead. 

This shorter package will give you the opportunity to experience as much or as little as you like from the main activity list. If you simply want to refine a particular skill, or just stick a shovel in the ground, we can tailor your experience to you.

2 Day experiences are offered at £170 and are run on the Tuesday and Wednesday of both weeks. If you would like to choose another two days, we might be able to accommodate. In this instance please contact us at projects@pasttopresent.org to make your request.

Additionally, we are now offering a weekend package which covers Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th priced at £170.

Young Adventurers Club Days (U16s)

Our Young Archaeologist Club days are on Thursday 25th August and Thursday 1st September 2022, and are priced at £65 per participant.

Your young enthusiasts will enjoy digging and sieving for finds, learn how to identify artefacts and experience photographing and recording like a professional!

If you have any queries about our field schools, please email us on: projects@pasttopresent.org

Help us Crowdfund this Dig

If you are unable to join our summer excavations, you can still support our project in other ways. Every penny donated will be used to provide extra support on site, and enable greater efforts in the post-excavation laboratories. 

Results will be posted online as they come in, and you can even help us interpret the results!