The first commercial field archaeology post was held by Naomi Cooper, an undergraduate student at the University of Winchester undertaking a BSc in Archaeological Practice with Professional Placement.
Read more about her experience:
'I joined ULAS as part of my university degree on a 40 week placement. I had the opportunity to experience all areas of commercial archaeology with the support and knowledge from a great team of archaeologists. Being able to practice all areas of archaeology from excavations to finds processing gave me the chance to learn what parts of archaeology I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about.
The first main site that I worked on was a rural excavation in Leicestershire. At this site I started to learn about the difference between commercial archaeology and the university excavations that I was used to. It really was a bit of a shock. There were many different methods that were unknown to me but the team encouraged me to ask questions and improve my skills.
Urban sites were another shock to the system, they were faster paced and had a whole new way of working because of the far more complex archaeology consisting of multiple layers. Technology is becoming more important and used in many urban sites so understanding the methods and technologies is important when moving from site to site in order to start work straight away.
Evaluations and watching briefs make up a big part of the work of ULAS. ULAS allowed me to experience rural and urban evaluations and watching briefs. An urban evaluation that I worked on allowed me to find out new techniques that were being used in archaeology to record information and data, such as photogrammetry. Learning theses skills allowed me to see the changes in archaeological recording techniques and methods. After carrying out an urban evaluation with help from staff, I was able to write up the report on the trenches on the site. With this site I saw the whole process from start to end and saw the importance of collecting information required for the report.
Environmental archaeology, finds processing, and archiving were other skills that I had the opportunity to learn about. ULAS has a great team that work in these fields and allowed me to work with them. Environmental archaeology included wet sieving and fine fractions which before I did my placement I would have thought were gardening methods and maths problems. Archiving gave me an appreciation for collecting information on site in a systematic way to enable others to collate the archive of information, enabling others in the future to look at and understand the site in as much detail as possible.
During my placement I was offered training along with the ULAS staff, this training will allow me to have skills others might not have when searching for employment after my degree. I did a 2 day quarry training course to allow me to excavate on quarries, an area where ULAS have lots of projects. Not only did this training give me a qualification but it also taught me general health and safety skills that can help with other training such as a CSCS card.
Overall, ULAS provided me with an amazing opportunity, skills that I would never have learnt at university and a 40 week placement that I can place on my CV to hopefully make me more employable when I graduate. The staff made my time fun and allowed me to ask a LOT of questions with no judgement and a keenness to help me grow in my understanding of the field of archaeology. ULAS made me feel part of their team!'