Breaking new ground in archaeology 

Each year the Festival of British Archaeology recognises the valuable contribution archaeologists make to our understanding of the world we live in.

Events and celebrations across the country encourage the public to get involved with discovery, helping communities to find out what archaeology can tell them about their heritage.

Although the festival is taking a year off in 2018, we're celebrating some of the important and fascinating work carried out in our Department of Archaeology.

Our ground-breaking research

 World-leading researchers from our University have been making some fascinating discoveries. 


Bringing Sheffield's medieval castle to life

Sheffield Castle once stood tall and proud over our city. Built in the late 11th or early 12th Century, the castle played a pivotal role in the ebb and flow of British politics before it finally fell to parliamentary forces during the English Civil War.

In December, our archaeologists carried out the first study into unpublished findings from previous excavations of the sight. The result was a fascinating insight into how the castle would have looked and functioned. 

Not content with simply uncovering the past, the team have ensured their findings will benefit Sheffield's modern-day community. Our academics have advised community groups on using the findings to boost Sheffield's regeneration, while our architecture students helped to design a pier to enable the public to watch the new excavations taking place. 

Read the original story

Find out more about the Sheffield Castle project


The lost medieval plague pit

When a team of students and researchers from our Department of Archaeology began an excavation in the grounds of Thornton Abbey, they never imagined what they would discover. 

Setting out in search of a Jacobean house, the group instead came across a medieval plague pit. An exciting find, the mass burial pit could provide a unique insight into one of the worst health crises in the history of the country. 

Here, PhD student Alyxandra Mattison tells us more about the work that went in to this discovery, and the impact it had on her research experience. 

 Inspirational colleagues

Staff from across the department make a vital contribution to our world-leading archaeological work, from conducting innovative research to teaching and supporting our students.


Dr Hugh Willmott is a Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology. He has been inspiring our students since 2004, helping them develop archaeological expertise. He has also led a number of ground-breaking research projects including the discovery of the plague pit at Thornton Abbey. 

Take a look at Dr Willmott's fascinating career:

Enriching our community

Our Department of Archaeology engages with communities across Sheffield to share the benefits of archaeology. Since their findings often provide exciting details about the history of our city, our archaeologists collaborate with local groups to share their work and passion.


View of the church excavation

Castleton Archaeology Project 

In partnership with local history societies, our University is conducting an ongoing project in the villages of Castleton and Hope to discover the heritage of the area. 

The project began with the exploration of a site which hosted a medieval hospital, with researchers investigating the hospital's cemetery population. However, the collaboration has extended to uncover the origins and development of the two villages over the centuries. 

Find out more about the project


Archaeology in the City

Student-run project Archaeology in the City aims to make sure that everyone in Sheffield can access the heritage of their city in a fun and engaging way.

The group runs plenty of activities for Sheffield residents, including free pub-based talks, school outreach sessions and field trips. All their events are designed to help non-experts get involved in the wonders of archaeological discovery.

Find out more about Archaeology in the City