UCLan Student volunteers work with professionals on archaeological dig on bypass site

Posted on - 14th August, 2020 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Preston News, UCLan, University campus
Group Dig
The UCLan students on the dig with Oxford professionals. Pic: UCLan

Fifteen UCLan undergraduates have teamed up with a professional team of archaeologists Oxford Archaeology who are investigating nationally important prehistoric sites along the route of Highways England’s new £150 million A585 bypass near Poulton-le-Fylde.


Restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have disrupted plans for many University training excavations this summer, but the students have now been able to start their four-week excavation.

In what is described as an invaluable opportunity for the undergraduate students, this opportunity will let them learn first-hand about the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Ages alongside industry professionals.

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Fraser Brown, Senior Project Manager at Oxford Archaeology, said: “We are delighted that we have been able to provide UCLan students with the opportunity to come out and join the team at nearby Windy Harbour, and are very pleased that they will be accompanied on site by their course directors.

“The students won’t replace archaeologists by doing work for which funding has been agreed with the client but will add to the amount of archaeology that can be examined over this extensive road scheme.

“Additionally, it will be great to have the expertise of Rick Peterson and Vicki Cummings so close at hand.”

As well as undertaking the level of practical experience required as part of their course, the students will get an insight into the working practices on commercial archaeological excavations which take place ahead of development.

William Leather on the Windy Harbour dig
UCLan student William Leather on the Windy Harbour dig. Pic: UCLan

William Leather, third year BSc (Hons) Archaeology student at UCLan, said: “Working alongside the professional archaeologists of Oxford Archaeology North has allowed me develop my skills further. It’s been great to undertake fantastic real-world learning.”

Finds from the excavations so far include ancient pollen, wood, leaves, hazelnuts and charred seeds and fruits which have been preserved in waterlogged deposits and provide tantalising clues about how people lived and developed from hunter-gatherers living on the coast to early farmers making a living from salt marshes.

Vicki Cummings, Professor of Neolithic Archaeology at UCLan, commented: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to work on a nationally important site alongside professional archaeologists.

“At UCLan we really value practical work experience, our industry links mean despite the coronavirus pandemic, we have still been able to offer important fieldwork opportunities to our students.”

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Highways England and Kier are facilitating the opportunity and increasing the area available for the students to work on safely.

Precautions are in place to maintain social distancing and hygiene standards in line with Government guidance and industry standards to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Jon Stokes, Highways England’s Senior Project Manager for the Windy Harbour to Skippool scheme, added: “Highways England is always keen to ensure all our projects deliver community benefits during construction.

“Given the current Covid-19 restrictions and the fact these important excavations are virtually on the University’s doorstep we’re delighted to welcome UCLan students to the site and hope they find the archaeology as fascinating as we have.”

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Have you seen the students out on their dig? Let us know in the comments below.

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