Undergraduate fieldwork bursaries 2016 - Benjamin Radford at Vagnari, Italy
At the Department of Archaeology we offer our undergraduate students fieldwork bursaries to help fund their participation in archaeological fieldwork or work experience within the heritage sector. These present fantastic opportunities for our students to develop their skills and to enhance their CV. Successful applicants report back to the department about their experience. Here, BA Archaeology student Benjamin Radford, writes about his experience excavating with the Sheffield Archaeology project at Vagnari, southern Italy.
This summer I was able to gain invaluable archaeological experience excavating the central village of a Roman Imperial Estate at Vagnari in Italy, directed by Prof. Maureen Carroll from the Archaeology Department.
The project aimed at gaining insights into the industrial and agricultural life within the imperial settlement, and more specifically the central village, which was otherwise known as the vicus. With it being only my second excavation, I felt my inexperience would hold me back, however I found that I was in the same situation as many others on our team who had come over from America. The month long duration of the dig and the arduous 5am alarms were all more than worth it by the end. We had excavated a large area and made some very important finds such as lead, Roman glass, ceramic, bones, structure and some full intact objects such as oil lamps.
During the project several professionals from different areas of archaeology also visited the site, as well as the town we were staying in, each giving us a seminar on certain topics and their relevance to the project such as Roman Glass, Zooarchaeology and Archaeobotany. In addition to these seminars, we also briefly studied material from last year and I was also given a chance by Prof. Maureen Carroll to utilise my hobby in photography to take photos of some finds from the previous year and the ongoing excavation. This in particular showed the variety of archaeological related activities that we were able to get involved in during the project, and highlighted some of the areas of archaeology I might consider working further in.
In addition to all of this we were then given opportunities to go on excursions organised for most weekends to explore more of Southern Italy. This included trips to the stunning cave city of Matera and the Temple of Hera at Metaponto along the southern coast. Furthermore, smaller tours were also organised to the local town of Gravina, where we visited numerous caves beneath the city, as well as a museum which was to home to a collection of underground frescoes. There was also the opportunity to organise our own trips on weekends when we had free time, and we visited more areas such as the local city of Bari, and the beautiful beaches of Polignano a Mare and Monopoli nearby for much needed rest.
The grant provided to me by the Archaeology Department here at the University of Sheffield was something I’ll always be grateful for. Support like this allowed me to have more financial confidence whilst on the project, and concentrate on enjoying and learning from the numerous experiences we had available to us. It was a privilege to be able to take part in such a project and getting more of an insight into field Archaeology has made me more determined and confident in my studies.
For more information, see the project website: