I am currently in my final year of studying Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Reading. Over the Easter break, I was lucky enough to undertake work experience at Wessex Archaeology in Salisbury. On the first day I was greeted by Beth Harrison and Samuel Fieldhouse, from the Community and Education team. I was given a quick tour of the building (Graphics, Coastal & Marine, Finds and Environmental departments) giving me the opportunity to introduce myself to the people that I would be working with over the next eight days.
I spent the remainder of the first day in the Graphics department, drawing and illustrating pots, where I was shown how advances in technology have led to digitized drawings, using an iPad and 3D modelling. Being given the opportunity to do something that was new to me was incredibly interesting, and really made me appreciate the time that this department spends in creating these drawings and reconstructions.
For the rest of the first week, I found myself in the Coastal & Marine department, assisting with the processing and recording of a portion of a boat from the Solent. Having never had this opportunity before, I found the whole experience incredibly rewarding. Alistair, Stephanie and Grant were incredibly helpful in guiding me through the process of cleaning and recording timbers and refreshing my memory on scale drawings. I loved every minute I spent in the Coastal & Marine department and I am eager to learn more about this area of archaeology.
During my second week at Wessex Archaeology, I participated in finds washing with the Finds department and floating and sorting with the Environmental department. These are tasks I have undertaken before whilst on excavations with my university, so having the chance to do them with Wessex Archaeology was refreshing and allowed me to see how the archaeological industry differs from university methods (better floatation tanks for one!).
The second half of the week I spent with Beth in Community and Education, doing a variety of tasks from organising loan boxes for primary schools to ensure they fit the curriculum, through to testing photogrammetry software for secondary school workshops.
Overall the experience I have had at Wessex Archaeology has been incredible. I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit, to learn and to expand my knowledge of the range of job opportunities the world of commercial archaeology has to offer. I am thankful for all the career advice I have been given from Wessex Archaeology staff and their welcoming attitudes.
By Rebecca Pitfield, Student