This year the University of Leicester will begin the third season of a five-year field school project into the history and landscape of Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, England. Bradgate Park is located 4km north-west of the City of Leicester and covers an 830-acre area (http://bradgatepark.org/). This upland landscape is a popular recreational park and attracts c. 400,000 visitors per annum. The landscape is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is described by Natural England as “one of the finest remaining examples of ancient parkland in Leicestershire” containing some of the “last remaining fragments of wet heathland in the County”.
The park is first documented in 1241 (as a deer park) and is known primarily as the location of one of the first unfortified brick-built aristocratic houses in England (c. 1520), which was later the birth place of Lady Jane Grey: the ‘nine days queen’. However, recent excavations of a known late Upper Palaeolithic open site situated atop the north spur of a gorge overlooking the River Lin has revealed an in situ stone tool assemblage consistent with Creswellian activity. This is one of only three sites in the UK dated to this period and is thus of national and international significance. A LiDAR and subsequent walkover survey of the park conducted in 2014, identified over 250 potential earthworks not documented within official records. Many of these earthworks appear prehistoric in date and include terracing and a ditched enclosure, which suggests that human occupation and interaction with the landscape has a longer history than previously recognised.
Despite the prominence of standing buildings and prehistoric and historic earthworks within the Park, there are no documented antiquarian and archaeological excavations prior to the 21st century. This is most likely due to a combination of land-use and a lack of construction activity, which have served to limit opportunities for archaeological research. The fieldschool will involve examination of multiple areas within the park to critically evaluate previous assumptions and generate new understandings about the occupation, use and development of an upland landscape across a period of almost 13,000 years. The fieldwork will also provide an opportunity for training for Archaeology students from the University of Leicester and continues a longer-term programme aimed at enhancing community involvement in the understanding and presentation of important regional monuments for the benefit of the wider public.
In the third season, excavation will focus on Bradgate House, to establish the form, function and date of identified structural remains and recover material culture and biological evidence to characterise the living standards of an aristocratic family, tenants and servants in Tudor and Stewart England. Additional trenches will be placed across a possible prehistoric enclosure located to the south of Bradgate House.
Staff from both the School of Archaeology and University of Leicester Archaeological Service (ULAS) will undertake teaching and supervision on site: the excavations are co-directed by Dr Richard Thomas (University of Leicester), Jen Browning (ULAS) and James Harvey (ULAS). Activities will include survey, excavation and recording techniques and finds and environmental work. You will also receive instruction on the correct use of archaeological tools and equipment. A significant further element of the project is to engage the public and school groups in archaeological fieldwork and the medieval and early modern periods through tours and temporary displays. Students should expect to communicate their activities to members of the public.
If you have any health or medical issues, which should be noted, it is essential that you contact Richard Thomas, in confidence, as soon as possible (email@example.com) so that we can make the necessary amendments to assist you.
W1 Home/EU - Week 1 19th to 23rd June 2017 (Home/EU students) £250
W1 Overseas - Week 1 19th to 23rd June 2017 (Overseas students) £250
W2 Home/EU - Week 2 26th June to 30th June 2017 (Home/EU students) £250
W2 Overseas - Week 2 26th June to 30th June 2017 (Overseas students) £250
W3 Home/EU - Week 3 3rd July to 7th July 2017 (Home/EU students) £250
W3 Overseas - Week 3 3rd to 7th July 2017 (Overseas students) £250