Fieldwork Officer

End of Term Excitement

In the midst of all this changeable weather, I am glad to be spending today in my office. As I talked about last year, I work at York University as the departmental Project and Fieldwork Officer. I’m now well into my second year in this post and still very much enjoying my job. As it’s the end of term, this week has been a lot of fun, starting with the staff-student rounders match on Monday (I’m glad to report that the staff just about clinched it, despite our advancing years), continuing with the inaugural Department versus York Archaeological Trust cricket match (sadly a whitewash), and culminating in the third year results day today. Currently they are awaiting their results, but we’ll be celebrating with them later this afternoon. This has been a great year, and I’m hoping to see at least a few of them return as postgraduates next term.

Amongst all this activity, I *am* actually doing some work. In between the odd student popping in for advice (it’s MA dissertation time!), I’ve been finishing off bits and pieces of work to send off to various collaborators both within and external to the department. The first of which was a fun magnetometry survey of a village destroyed during the Thirty Years War, which we carried out in the Czech Republic back in April for a project run by one of our lecturers – Jim  Symonds – and colleagues at Plzeň University.

Me in one of the clearer parts of the Bohemian forest back in April

Fortunately all that needed doing was a rough interpretation to send off to the project members, and then I continued work on our major excavation project at Heslington East. All fieldwork has stopped and it is now being written up. As I’m responsible for the spatial data this involves a lot of digitisation and records checking. Most of my time is spent cursing ArcGIS, but after the inevitable crashes and lost work I’m finally getting somewhere.

Today is also equipment day. I deal with the maintenance and loan of all the departmental kit, and I’ve been updating our calendars and booking in the large numbers of projects that seem to be running this summer (including my own little project with colleagues up in Scotland. Contrary to what the students may think we get up to, summer is looking to be very busy indeed.

Speaking of students, I see groups starting to congregate nervously for their results … Good luck everyone!



Supporting students in the field

I have a strange job, and one that doesn’t exist at too many other universities. My official title is ‘Project and Fieldwork Officer’ and, along with my partner in crime Anthony in the role of Computing Officer, you could say we act as a sort of half-way-house between the students and the lecturers in the Department of Archaeology at York.

We spend a lot of our time teaching the undergraduate and postgraduate students techniques like survey, geophysics, and computing skills such as GIS, but invariably this doesn’t stop in class. As soon as a student decides to use a fieldwork technique, piece of kit, or computer in their dissertation, this means a lot of one-to-one support and coaching from us. This puts us in a nice position, as we really get to know the students well, in a more relaxed environment. It also means we are rewarded handsomely with wine and chocolate at the end of the year.

With the undergraduates away for the summer it’s quiet in the department, but there’s still plenty to do. The postgrads are still here, desperately trying to finish their dissertations and in need of GIS and other general computer help, but today I had other responsibilities.