Reflections at the end of all things

As part of the conclusion of the module, the student participants were asked to reflect on their participation.

Emily

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

From this module I have learnt and developed many skills that I otherwise would not have had the chance to. Including; programming and coding, photoshop editing, communication within a group and working with a real museum to develop a product that will be used in the heritage world. Moreover the main learning outcomes I have achieved from this module are perspective and communication. Working with a group has meant that compromise, coordination and allocation of tasks has been key, possibly mirroring working within the heritage sector in my future career. Perspective has been crucial as understanding what the museum wanted and being able to fit this to their environment was something I have never done or thought about. The chance to work on a project that will be used in the real world is something that is not usually offered to first years and has given me key skills that I will take with me into the following years of my degree.

Do you think the fieldschool has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Definitely, as the opportunity to work with a small museum has shown me the heritage world from a completely different perspective. Seeing a museum run on one member of staff and the rest being volunteers, changes the dynamic of how management choices and the organisation of the museum is decided. Additionally being able to work on a heritage project instead of solely being on the dig allowed me to see the heritage world from a professional perspective for the first time.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Opportunity.

Hayden

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

To be introduced to how a heritage project is undertaken.
To develop teamwork and presentational skills.
To acquire a range of technical skills.

I will primarily take away a better understanding of how a project can be undertaken by a small group. Particularly, I believe I have developed my own understanding of what contributions one should make. One major point of feedback I received throughout the module was that I don’t push my opinions and ideas to the extent I should, even though I clearly have them. My justification for this was the dilemma of not wanting to cause unnecessary friction and seemingly hinder progression, yet I learned that when creating a final product, opposing opinions is vital to the process.

Do you think the fieldschool has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Before taking the module, I understood heritage to be far more finite and ‘static’, in the sense that we are already naturally provided with our heritage in a tangible form, and we then make a few minor decisions on how it should be presented. In fact, it became apparent that heritage is not so definite, and is actually something that continuously develops. If we consider heritage to simply be a representation of our understanding of the past, then it becomes something very ephemeral.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Informative

Marionna

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

I think that the main outcome for me in this module has been having to expose my ideas and learn how to work in a professional way with a museum.This was really interesting because that’s actually one of the things that I want to do after finishing my degree. Apart from that, I think it had been really enriching as it had helped me to view different ways of having to coordinate for managing an important work in only two weeks. And also having to learn how to treat our public while they were testing the game as I had never had to do something like that before.

I would take away from this module the opportunity to expose our ideas, as in other modules, is more difficult to be heard if you aren’t fast or you are not secure about your dominance of the language. Here you are encouraged to say what you are thinking and you can feel that what you say is valued.

Do you think the fieldschool has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

Yeah because I always thought that Heritage was about managing expositions, making leaflets, and create boring posters to announce amazing exhibitions that nobody use to visit . But here I have realized that is more than that, It’s gaining people’s interest, especially those who just don’t bother about culture. It’s making them realize what are they missing and show them that it’s actually interesting and exciting. I realized of this while doing our game, as our main goal was that players learned something in an interactive way,having fun in the process.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Different

Isobel

What do you consider to be the main learning outcomes of the module? What will you take away with you after completion of the module?

I consider the main learning outcomes of the module to be able to create a video game, which meets the needs of our clients, and provides both entertainment and education to the visitors of the museum. Alongside this was the learning outcome of working together with various groups of people, and to learn skills such as CSS, Photoshop, and photography.

I will take away from this module, the ability to use Twine, a program previously I had no idea how to use, I now know the best way to photograph archaeological artefact to enhance its intricate details. On top of this I have learnt, about the complexity of Heritage as a discipline, and it has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the area of work I hope to go into in the future. Working together as a team has also taught me more about myself than I would ever imagine, and I feel like my ability to work in a team has improved vastly over the course of the module.

Do you think the field school has had an impact on how you understand heritage? How?

The field school has definitely had an impact on how I understand heritage, before I started I had a vague idea that heritage involved museums and historic buildings. This module however, has taught me the importance of digital elements in the world of heritage, and how by embracing the technology of the 21st Century it can allow people to create a connection to the historic and prehistoric past. Archaeogaming is not something I had heard of, but now I can see the important role it plays in heritage, and helping people understand heritage and archaeology as disciplines.

If you could describe this module in one word, what would it be?

Eye-opening!

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Proper Archaeologist

Bright eyed and bushy tailed we turned up to what was for the most of us our first excavation, bags full and hands at the ready to dig. Drastically the smiles faded as we arrived at the site to imminent rain and the chill of a heavy wind, it was not long however until the trenches revealed themselves from behind a corner and the excited buzz grew. Seeing the trench and finally getting stuck into what has felt like a marathon year of lectures on excavation theory was truly thrilling; I finally felt like a ‘proper archaeologist’. I could go home head high and tell all those who had asked me since my first day whether I had been on a dig, that I finally had. Although the dig had not been something I had particularly looked forward to, actually being on a site that held so much information about the past and being the first people to uncover it is a feeling I don’t think will ever go away.

The hard work kicked in as we finished the work the digger had already started, this was a tremendous team effort with jokes and high spirits rife. Turning our attention to the emerging features we looked expectantly from our trowels to the supervisor with the hope of being let loose on them; much to my disappointment the process of ‘cleaning the context’ was broached, and so began the slog of cleaning 1mm of topsoil by hand from a 60m trench. Moreover my disappointment was quashed as I unearthed my first piece of flint; it felt like I had struck gold. After my supervisor told me it may date to 1000-3000BC my excitement could not have been greater as I felt the connection between myself and the human being millenia before me who had deposited it there for me to find. We were like primary school pupils running with their latest drawing to their teacher to show it off, we were instead however running manically across a trench with broken pieces of bone to a supervisor who had seen this a thousand times; still we beamed with our finds. Throughout the following days we continued to clean and more features began to emerge, we identified a possible foundation wall (which with both love and frustration, later took me a day and half to clean between the stones), a possible cremation site and a ditch filled with animal remains. Hearing what was happening in the other trenches I was both relieved and jealous, as my friend had to dig her trench from scratch; my three blisters from digging half a day could not compare to her two solid days of digging. However as possible human remains were uncovered my interest had to be satisfied and I wandered over. Aside from the initial daunting shudder that runs through your body when you first see human remains the after effect of the possibilities this could open was mesmerising.

This image consists of two finds trays filled with an assortment of artefacts. The majority are animal bone and pottery with some interesting looking stones mixed in.
Finds from wall and ditch day three (Photo: Emily Pearson)
Trench six on day one with students at different stages of cleaning the context with trowels.
Cleaning the context day one (Photo: Emily Pearson)
In focus is my hand with a piece of flint in it dating from 1000-3000BC. In the background is a finds tray with various pieces of flint and animal bone.
Flint 1000-3000BC (Photo: Emily Pearson)

As my time at the site drew to an end I remarked at my relief to be leaving the site and heading to a museum to which my friend replied “oh you’re so a heritage student”, which I take no shame in. Although I enjoyed my time on site and would relish at the opportunity to return and see how the work progressed, I always found myself thinking about the next stage: what this meant, how were the finds going to be incorporated into an established museum and what this meant for the community, thus yes I am “so heritage”. I fell into this degree switching at the last minute from another course I loved because I couldn’t see myself doing the alternative as a job. However when I changed and imagined my studies and future, as cheesy as it sounds everything fell into place. The National Trust properties I had visited hundreds of times as a child and teenager became the place I wanted to spend all my time and this was the only thing I had ever felt passionate about. The thought of the stories these places held and me screaming them  at anyone who would listen showed me that after a little refinement of screaming to conserving this is what I wanted to study.