Louise Brown, field and community archaeologist tells us why the work placements she did and the practical skills that she learnt at Bradford were so important in her career progression and in honing her passion for archaeology.
"I'm the Community Archaeologist for Pennine Prospects, a rural regeneration company, and the project that I work on is the Watershed Landscape Project which is the Heritage Lottery-funded partnership programme, working within South Pennines. We are looking at the archaeology of the whole of the South Pennines and getting people involved and passionate about where they live.
When I was looking at doing archaeology as a degree course I didn't know where I would take that afterwards, I just knew it was something that I was really interested in. So, to go on and then take it further, do a Master’s and actually now be working in archaeology is just fantastic.
I chose the University of Bradford to do my undergraduate archaeology degree because of the practical elements that are involved in the course. I was originally looking at doing a Medieval Studies degree elsewhere and didn't quite get the grades, and I was going off to do a year out anyway and during that year out I was able to seriously think about what it is that I wanted to do, rather than having to do all of that decision making at the same time as doing my A-levels and so it was then that I really focussed on archaeology and that's when Bradford really came into the fore.
The practical elements have been really important to me. I'm a Field Archaeologist and now a Community Archaeologist and being able to use the skills that I learned at Bradford and on all the field work projects that I worked on to actually then be able to help other people, to sort of train other people and help them be able to use the skills and understand their landscapes is just great. It's fantastic.
I did the 4-year programme, so I did take a year out and that was great for many reasons. After two years at university it's really nice to take a step back from the pressures of essay writing and assessments to actually take that step back and work but actually see what areas of archaeology and what aspects that I would be interested in and so it was really good to work with the National Trust where I worked in the archaeology section down in Cirencester and then for the other part I worked for the Old Scatness Project as a post-excavation assistant.
The placement was really valuable in terms of giving you that experience of work, giving you a break from doing assessments but also I found that coming back in my final year, that I actually worked a lot harder and I had a real passion. I really enjoyed my course anyway, but then I became really passionate about wanting to go further and wanting to try and get a job in archaeology. So it gave me that application in my final year which was really important.
It's really, really good to get involved in other activities outside of academia. Your studies are really important, don't get me wrong, but to actually have switch-off time, it's so, so important. I was involved a lot with the Musical Society and to know that I had a rehearsal at half seven meant that I knew that I had to programme my day so that I could then go to my rehearsal rather than doing night before cramming or trying to finish an essay. I had to build in these rehearsals and that was really important.
Certainly friends I know who were involved in climbing or hockey, they really involved their hockey tours or their climbing trips and they still have the friends that they made like I've still got the friends that I made through the Musical Theatre Society.
The University of Bradford is a really nice university in terms of being just on the edge of a small city. So I came from North Wiltshire, so I didn’t want a big city. I think I'd have found that a bit daunting. I also love this kind of thing so the fact that coming to Bradford I could jump on the bus or jump on a train and be out and up on the moors was fantastic.
I don't know what will happen next. I certainly am very passionate about staying in archaeology, and I really, really enjoy this kind of community archaeology and getting to train people and work with people from all walks of life it's brilliant. The project I'm working for at the moment comes to an end next year - this is unfortunately the way of these grant-funded and HNF-funded projects. So, what will happen after that I don't know but I will certainly go back to my freelance work and try and get some more work that way. And, yeah, stay on in there. I really love it."