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A trowel sticking out of the earth in the middle of an archaeological dig site.

Jenny has always been interested in history and has a passion for people and cultures of the past. When her grandparents introduced her to the world of archaeology by watching ‘Digging For Britain’, she was instantly intrigued, but her initial concern was whether her back pain would prevent her from taking part in the physical aspects of the profession. Jenny found reassurance in the Department of Archaeology’s Enabled Fieldwork Group which actively help students with physical and mental health concerns regarding fieldwork.

Archaeology isn’t just about digging

When Jenny attended an Open Day, the phrase ‘Archaeology isn’t just about digging’, emphasised by Associate Professor Amanda Clarke, really resonated with her.

“This opened a whole new method of learning about people and history, as I could now see myself in roles where I could study artefacts and archaeological sites first-hand rather than rely on the written word of historians and ancient sources.

“It was this passion to learn about other people, cultures, and history first-hand that encouraged me to take archaeology alongside my ancient history degree.”

Amanda eased Jenny’s concerns about the Archaeology Field School by explaining how roles can be adapted for students to take part in a safe way, while also empowering individuals to excel in their strengths and ambitions.

“Amanda discussed my back pain with me and together we came up with a list of activities that I would feel comfortable completing. She encouraged me to try some activities that pushed my comfort zone in a safe way, whilst providing tips on how to manage the pain and how to understand my own limits.”

Enabled Fieldwork Group

Enabled Fieldwork is a collaborative project between students and staff to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in fieldwork. The group is student-run and aims to help those who are worried about or struggling with fieldwork.

They are very friendly and approachable and can be contacted on social media or in person depending on how you feel comfortable talking to them. The Enabled Fieldwork Group supports both physical and mental health concerns.

I soon found that there is a role for everyone and that I could take part in the dig in my own way.”

A surreal experience

Jenny attended the Islay Field School for two weeks during summer vacation.

The highlight of my trip was finding my strengths and limits whilst digging next to Alice Roberts from ‘Digging for Britain’. This was such a surreal experience and such a nice contrast to when my younger self would watch the show and wish to be on the digs but didn’t think it possible. It really made me feel empowered and I felt I could play an important role in the field school.”

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