Matt Beresford

Community Archaeology: A Day in the Life

First of all, let me say a huge thanks on behalf of MBArchaeology for being able to take part in the Day of Archaeology. What a great initiative!

So, to our day….

Fridays are days spent with our Community Archaeology group in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The group has been going for about four years now, and we generally focus on non-accredited, ‘fun’ Adult Ed courses – over the years we have done everything from Prehistoric Britain, The Vikings, Archaeology of the Peak District and An Introduction to Field Archaeology. 2014, however, saw us get more ambitious. Southwell is home to one of the largest Roman villas in the country (well it was 1800 years ago!), and sits on a Roman road network that links forts at Ad Pontem (Thorpe), Osmanthorpe (Kirklington) and Cestrefeld (Chesterfield).


Landscape map showing local Iron Age & Roman sites and findspots in the Southwell region

(© MBArchaeology, 2014)


So, back in January we decided to undertake the Researching Roman Southwell project, aimed at collating all the local findspots, HERs, past excavation/fieldwalking results and conduct research of our own.

The Day of Archaeology saw our final session for this term, in which we discussed our current documentary progress, recap on our test-pit excavations (in which we seem to have good, in situ geological deposits that may yet explain what was happening in the Roman period for the town) and also hear a poem written by one of our group members on the nature of digging holes!



Group members discussing their research into the Roman landscape of the Southwell region

(© MBArchaeology, 2014)


After our group session, I had a training meeting with our new student placement Sophie, who is joining us from Bournemouth University on a year’s placement. She will be trained and supported in ‘learning the ropes’ of Community Archaeology over the next 12 months. We devised her Training Programme and agreed on her Learning Goals, in line with the IfA’s training toolkit.

Also today, I plugged my new book on Thomas Bateman (19th century Derbyshire archaeologist), co-written with my good friend Jack Golds. In it, we document Bateman’s life and work, give information on various sites Bateman worked on and encourage people to visit (and point out a few good, local pubs!) as well as discussing the spirituality of the landscape and look at ley lines and dowsing.


New book on Thomas Bateman, 19th century Derbyshire archaeologist

The day was finished by launching a new fitness initiative that is aimed at the Heritage Industry. Valkryie Fitness aims to provide information, fitness programmes, supplement advise and nutrition plans for archaeologists, rangers, walk leaders, volunteers and anyone with a general interest in health & fitness. Visit for more information.

All in all, a pretty busy day, and no digging in sight!

Matt Beresford (MBArchaeology)

MBArchaeology are based in Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire and specialise in Community Archaeology, Education & Research. For more information visit