Exmoor Archaeology Field School 2004

Hawkcombe Head Mesolithic Site,
Exmoor National Park, Somerset

Introduction & Call for Applications

Next field season: 21-30 July 2004 ('A' Level students)
closing dates for applications: 1 May 2004 ('A' Level students)


The Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol, in conjunction with Exmoor National Park Authority, are delighted to announce the third season of this field school in field archaeology and prehistory. The project is a joint initiative with the Exmoor National Park Authority, and is based at a Mesolithic site at Hawkcombe Head, near Porlock in the Exmoor National Park, Somerset. Activity on the site dating from the later Mesolithic period (c.7000-4000 BC) has been previously identified through the recovery of flint tools and structural features. The field school aims to find out more about Mesolithic hunter-gatherer activity in the Hawkcombe Head Landscape.

Applications to participate in the field school are invited from British 'A' Level students. The project is funded by the Widening Participation Initiative at the University of Bristol (WP) to take 'A' Level students (17 years and above). All student placements are fully funded by WP.

We welcome applications from schools and sixth form colleges for these fully-funded places, which will be awarded on a competitive basis. Futher details are available from Dr Paula Gardiner: P.J.Gardiner@bristol.ac.uk

Accommodation at the Pinkery Centre

The field school provides introductory training in field archaeology and prehistory.

Students will live and work as a member of a team and will be responsible for the excavation and recording of the Hawkcombe Head mesolithic site. Accommodation, bed and breakfast is in shared rooms at the Youth Hostel, Alcombe Combe, Minehead, where students will assisit in preparing lunch and washing up. The Youth Hostel benefits from a drying room, a well-equipped kitchen, and hot showers.

Teh field school offers students a unique hands-on introduction to working on an archaeological site. The excavation is directed by Dr Paula Gardiner (University of Bristol) and Rob Wilson-North (Exmoor National Park) together with supervisors and mentors from Bristol University. Students will be supervised at all times during the excavation and at the Youth Hostel, where evening activities are arranged. Accommdodation, food, equipment and transport to the site is provided by the Field School.

Archaeological Background
During the first field season, the fieldwork will investigate the landscape archaeology of a Mesolithic site on the coastal fringe of Exmoor. The site lies mainly on open moorland and farmland.

Hawkcombe Head is a site of considerable archaeological significance because the flint typology suggests that it was in use at the end of the later Mesolithic period (circa 7000-4000 BC). There is a paucity of late Mesolithic sites in south-west England, and Hawkcombe Head provides a valuable opportunity to increase the British database for this period. The topographical setting has the potential for the preservation of organic material which can be used both for radiocarbon dating and environmental reconstruction. The fieldwork is of crucial importance because the site is currently being destroyed by erosion resulting from vehicle access across parts of it. The recovery of disturbed material and excavation will enable the site to be properly recorded with the surface flint material preserved.

The site was discovered in 1942 by A.L. Wedlake. Since then flint from the Mesolithic period has been found across a wide area. The flint represents a substantial collection from the later Mesolithic period and includes at least 160 cores and 56 microliths. The raw material consists largely of beach pebble.

Hawkcombe Head must be viewed in its wider landscape context because of the recovery of Mesolithic material form sites along the Exmoor coast. Isolated finds have been recovered from the Porlock Bay and Minehead area. There is the potential to link the site with the submerged forest at Porlock, where Mesolithic flint was recovered in the 19th century. The project's long-term aims are to facilitate a better understanding of hunter gatherer movements across a wider landscape.

Volunteers will receive a full introduction to the principles and practice of landscape archaeology. Training will be given in excavation skills, artefact processing, and field survey. The field school will include regular field visits to other sites and monuments within Exmoor National Park. Regular lectures will be given by project staff. Apply now

The Exmoor landscape archaeology field school project provides participants with

Recommended Reading List
Aston, M. and I. Burrow (eds) 1982. The Archaeology of Somerset. Taunton: Somerset County Council

Aston, M. 1985. Interpreting the Landscape. London: Batsford
Bowden, M. (ed.) 1999. Unravelling the Landscape. Stroud: Tempus Publishing
Gardiner, P. 2000. Excavations at Birdcombe, Somerset: Mesolithic Settlement, subsistence and landscape use in the south west of England. In R. Young (ed.), 199-207
Wilson-North, R. and Riley, H. 2001. Field Archaeology of Exmoor. London: English Heritage
Young, R. (ed.) 2000. Mesolithic Lifeways: Current Research in the Mesolithic in Britain and Ireland. Leicester: Leicester University Press


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To Apply, print, complete and post the Application Form,
For further information,
please contact Dr Paula Gardiner

Dr Paula Gardiner,
Centre for the Historic Environment, Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol,
43 Woodland Road, Clifton, Bristol. BS8 1UU. UK
tel: 44 (0)117 954 6071
fax 44 (0)117 954 6001

Go to Bristol University Archaeology Department homepage

2003 Department of Archaeology, University of Bristol, UK
in conjunction with Exmoor National Park Authority

Exmoor national park authority