Ever since my first dig on a Roman site more than two years ago, I’ve known that Archaeology and Anthropology intrigue me more than any other subject. I’m a seventeen-year-old student studying for A Levels, and as summer approached this year, I wanted to widen my experience beyond the classical archaeology I had been fortunate enough to work on in previous summers. That’s where the EngLaID project comes in. Browsing through the various projects taking place on England’s archaeological scene, I came across it; I was immediately struck by its scale and breadth. The idea of a whole project based around the English landscape and how it can be used to inform theories about English identity was much too interesting to pass by! I contacted Anwen as the Prehistoric specialist on the team – prehistory was a period I knew little about and was therefore very eager to engage with. So here I am! It’s the last day of my riveting two weeks here so I thought I would share at least a fraction of my thoughts and experiences from this short time.
Various discussions with Anwen, Letty, and Chris Gosden have prompted a plethora of questions in my mind about identity and what it actually means, as well as how one could ever get a true sense of how people felt about it in the past. I’ve been filled with a wonderful sense of mystery as I think about the human relationship with different forms of material culture, particularly of ritual sites, and how it seems to change not only through time and amongst different people and peoples, but by the variety of different ways in which these apparent relationships have been interpreted by various archaeologists, influenced by social sciences. I’m infinitely grateful for the number of books that have been recommended to me as my thoughts take further shape.
My work experience at the Institute of Archaeology has given me a much fuller understanding of what it is like to work in this field. From a day spent at the excavations at Dorchester-on-Thames, to another immersed in the Crawford archives (a treasure trove of pictures taken by the prolific archaeologist!) or yet another spent doing a crash-course in GIS, it’s been such an illuminating two weeks, and I can’t thank Anwen and the team enough!