Guest Blog: Sally Derett – PhD Work Experience

I’m a current second year PhD student in the Archaeology Department at the University of Sheffield. My research is based on investigating the palaeoenvironment of the Lincolnshire Fenlands using several proxies including pollen, microcharcoal and foraminifera analysis to investigate vegetation, sea level and human-influenced landscape changes throughout the Holocene.

As a NERC ACCE DTP funded student, I was granted 2 months of support to undertake some work experience. As a reputable commercial archaeology service working in a variety of project settings, I was keen to work for York Archaeology as a geoarchaeologist. I hoped to develop an understanding of the role of geoarchaeology in the commercial archaeology sector and to gain experience working on a variety of projects using a range of research methods. I have been warmly welcomed by Kristina into the geoarchaeology team at York Archaeology.

I spent the first weeks of the placement learning some of the many methods used to carry out a geoarchaeological investigation as well as how to write a WSI and a desk-based assessment. In the third week I spent some time with Stacey, the inhouse archaeobotanist, who taught me how to process soils for archaeobotanical analysis and how to identify seeds. It was astounding to see so many different seed varieties in such a small volume of soil.

The variety of work experience has continued throughout the placement: I have undertaken fieldwork at two very different sites where I worked with geoarchaeologist Richard carrying out window sample surveys. I have recorded the stratigraphy and subsampled many sediment cores from many different sites for pollen analysis, wood identification and radiocarbon dating. And I have learnt how to do stratigraphic modelling in GIS and Rockworks. I am currently rounding the placement off by writing a report on one of the projects I have been able to work on.

I have truly had a unique and extremely rewarding experience with York Archaeology and have very much enjoyed being part of the geoarchaeology team.