Hi, My name is Nicky Garland [GNJ1] and I work in the Department of Archaeology as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. Essentially that means most of my work is research focused and on a specific project, which currently is the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Monumentality and Landscape: Linear Earthworks in Britain’. Our project investigates the construction of large-scale linear earthworks, such as Offa’s Dyke, which in Britain tend to date to either the Iron Age (800 BC- AD 43) or the Early medieval period (AD 410-1066). This project is a collaboration between Iron Age specialists at Durham University and Early medieval experts at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. You can find out more about our project on our website here.
The work of a researcher is quite varied but a typical day for me this summer centres around fieldwork. This is because due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have been unable to get out into the field to investigate specific linear earthworks and so this summer we need to undertake several fieldwork projects across the UK.
We have just come back from three weeks down in Wiltshire where the project team along with some experienced volunteers excavated a section through the East Wansdyke. As part of our excavations we had a specialist from the University of St Andrews come and undertake Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating on the earthwork. This fascinating process allows us to date when sediments were last exposed to light and so can help us date the material both underneath the earthwork bank, so when it was first built, and in the ditch, telling us when it was started to be infilled.
This week I’m busily preparing for our next stretch of fieldwork, which will take place in September a bit closer to Durham in North Yorkshire. Here we will be investigating the line of the Iron Age linear earthwork called the Scots Dike. The Scots Dike extends from the River Swale in Richmond northwards towards the southern corner of the Stanwick oppidum, a major Late Iron Age settlement in this region. We are planning to undertake geophysical survey in several fields along the line of the earthwork to investigate whether there is an archaeological evidence for occupation in and around this area. We will also survey several upstanding remains of the earthwork as well as some areas where the earthwork has been levelled but were hoping to find the former line.
Today’s tasks include contacting landowners to organise access to specific areas, emailing some of our students who are hoping to come with us and get some experience in geophysical survey and contacting the County Archaeologist to let them know our final plans. Still lots to do before we head out to site but looking forward to being out in the field again soon!
If you’re interested in our project and the results of our fieldwork then follow our twitter account @linearearthwork and the blog on our website for more details soon!