The Silchester Field School: Excavation of the Iron Age and Roman town of Silchester

The Silchester Field School is one of the best long-term projects in archaeology fieldwork training in the UK. It is run by experts from the Department of Archaeology at Reading and teaches participants of all abilities how to excavate and record archaeological remains.

Course detailsArchaeology - smiling man

The 2014 Field School will be from Monday 7 July to Saturday 16 August 2014.

Applications for the 2014 Field school are now closed as we are fully booked. If you would like to be put on a waiting list please email:

The excavation course is run primarily for students studying Archaeology at Reading, but a number of places are available each year for students from abroad. The excavation teaches archaeological field techniques and recording methods and provides experience of working on a large, long-running archaeological project alongside other university undergraduates. Participants also learn communication and teamwork skills. Spending time on an archaeological excavation is a unique opportunity to contribute to a common aim whilst living and working in an active research community. There are very few similar opportunities in Britain.

Please see the Archaeology Department pages at for more details.

Course benefits

Participants will experience the thrill of archaeological discovery, as each new piece of evidence brings the past to life. For example the remains of an Iron Age house, the handle of a wine cup, and seeds from a rubbish pit can tell us about our ancestors living nearly two thousand years ago. About 80 young people are involved in the excavation and camp life is an important part of the sociable ‘Silchester experience’. There is one rest day each week when there may be opportunities to visit nearby sites and museums.

Who will be teaching you and how?

The excavation staff are professional archaeologists, and the academic Director is Professor Michael Fulford, Professor of Roman Archaeology. The on-site Director is Amanda Clarke, a Research Fellow and experienced field archaeologist. Days are divided between informal lectures on fieldwork skills, and hands- on experience in the trench and the Artefact and Science hut. The best way to learn is to start digging, and by the afternoon of the first day everyone will be excavating on site! Participants learn to take responsibility for an area, and excavate and record what is found there.

Facilities to enrich your experience

Silchester is a large open area excavation which intends to use the latest digital techniques to capture and disseminate archaeological data. There is broadband on-site and a network of computers linked to the University server, which hosts an archaeological database containing all the excavation information from the last 15 years. All participants are encouraged to work with this database and to develop an understanding of how archaeological data can be digitally captured. However, the experience is primarily about the archaeology in the trench and teaching the basic skills of excavation and recording, which rely on sharp eyes and careful hands. There is a science and artefact area on site with sieving and sorting facilities, as well as a small library and a computer room. If needed, access can be provided to the University of Reading laboratories and libraries.

Why study at Reading?

This unique and exciting project is an urban excavation spanning the late Iron Age to sub-Roman occupation of a major British town. We are excavating the remains of wooden buildings and the properties behind these buildings, which contain rubbish pits and wells and provide information relating to diet, environment and lifestyle. Our website at provides further information.

The Silchester Field School will take place between 7 July to Saturday 16 August 2014. If you would like to apply for a place on this excavation, please visit:

Archaeology - diggers

Download the promotional flyer for this course:

Silchester Field School course brochure (pdf 701kb)

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