Today was the first day of the 2008 Practical Archaeology Course run by Wessex Archaeology at Down Farm in Dorset. Over the course of the next two weeks 25 intrepid volunteers will be taught all aspects of the excavation and recording process on a real archaeological site. There will be talks on archaeological finds, tours of the farm and the excavation of archaeological features on site.

This is the fifth year that we've run the course and the third year that we've worked in what is known as area 3B. Despite being only 16 x 25m in size, we realised when the area was first stripped in 2006 that we had several years work ahead of us. This is a feature-rich site which has seen hundreds of years of Iron Age occupation. This year we hope to finish excavating area 3B and answer some of the questions we have about the settlement and about the people who lived in it.

The morning began with introductory talks and a tour of the farm and museum led by landowner Dr Martin Green. Martin is a popular and knowledgeable archaeologist who has come closer to understanding the secrets of Down Farm than anyone else. We spent the afternoon up on the site and our team had their first look at the area they will be excavating over the next week. Our first task was to clean the site using hoes and brooms. This is hard work but it is essential as it reveals the features on the site. By the end of the day seventy postholes and several small pits had been revealed ready for us to begin excavating tomorrow. Will we find the information which can tell us about the people of Down Farm 2500 years ago, or will we raise more questions than we answer?