SWARP Archaeology Field School 2024 NOW OPEN

South West Anarchy Research Project’s archaeology field school 2024 is now open for applications!

The summer school is open to international students with or without previous site-based experience. Our expert faculty staff will help you to develop your excavation, post-excavation analytical, anthropological, and archaeological skills. Together we will uncover an exciting and important moment in British history.

More details can be found on the Field School website.

South West Anarchy Research Project: Quick Update!

New Academic Year!

After another brilliant season of student training and summer school excavations at our Hartygrove site, we are all looking forward to welcoming new students in the coming weeks, and welcoming back our 2nd and 3rd years. We can’t wait to hear about the Archaeological digs abroad that lots of our existing students embarked upon this summer, and to welcome fresh faces into the department!

We also welcomed a wonderful cohort of students about to embark on their final year of A-Level study, to the University of Bristol’s Open Day that was held on Saturday. It was brilliant to have so many young people come and talk to us about the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology courses, and we hope to see many of them in September 2024!


What’s on in September!

Over the summer, our SWARP team have continued to work hard on the project, getting some exciting things underway!

Bristol’s Graffiti Heritage

Our first self guided graffiti recording workshop was a great success, with over 70 sites of graffiti, street art and murals being mapped in Bristol’s Ashely Ward. Our next step is to repeat this process for Bristol’s Central Ward, and then shortlist sites to be surveyed and photographed at regular intervals. Our aim here is to record street art, graffiti and murals in Bristol to contribute to the preservation of them as cultural heritage sites. We also want to make sure that we respect the inherent nature of this element of heritage, so instead of recording every site once, we will revisit sites that are ever-changing in terms of the graffiti and street art. Stay tuned on our social media platforms for developments!

Bristol’s Brilliant Archaeology – Come along!

We will be attending the Bristol’s Brilliant Archaeology Festival, on Saturday 16th September 2023 @ Blaise Estate. This event is free and will be an amazing day of archaeology, history and heritage for all the family!


Volunteer with us!

As always, if you would like to volunteer on the South West Anarchy Research Project, please get in contact via email with our Project Officer Matilda at matilda.jones@bristol.ac.uk. Everyone is welcome!

Summer School Student Experience!

From the 19th July to 30th July the International Field Archaeology School ran at our Hartygrove excavation site. It was a wonderful and enriching two weeks, with students from all over the world in different stages of their education coming together to work as a team and get excavating! We continued explorations in Trenches 1 and 2, as well as extending Trench 2 into Trench 4. Some exciting finds were uncovered during this time (keep your eyes and ears open for finds updates!). Most important during this two weeks however, were the experiences had by our International Students! Here are some quotes from our wonderful students:

It’s such a cool spot to be able to excavate. I really enjoyed finding the pottery and fitting the pieces together. We have gained a lot of experience!‘ – Thea, Norway

This was an unforgettable challenge in my University studies, and my favourite part was working as a team!’ – Iris, Hong Kong

‘Usually children say they want to be an astronaut or a princess or whatever when they grow up, so I wasn’t taken seriously when I said I wanted to be an archaeologist but look at me now! I was really serious!’ Selene, Switzerland

‘A precious opportunity! I have been given the opportunity to experience real archaeology which I don’t get at home so this is very precious.’ Neil, Hong Kong

‘This has been an opportunity to confirm my enjoyment of archaeology!’ Colin, Canada

‘I have loved the instructors, they are very informative, and of course my course mates!’ Gary, Hong Kong

‘I have found this whole experience very educational and to get actual digging experience is amazing. I have learned that even the smallest things can be the most useful.’ Jimmy, Hong Kong

Divya and Hannah: Pottery from the Student Training Excavation

It’s the start of a brand new day on site, and everyone is hard at work. Today, we’re going to talk about pottery, our most abundant find! The most interesting of all the pottery that has been found is probably the Ham Green pottery which was recovered in Trench 3.
Ham Green pottery traces back to Ham Green, a hamlet near Pill in Somerset. It was produced from 1100 AD to 1250 AD. Ham Green is the only Medieval kiln site which has been excavated in the Bristol area. An excavation there found an oval kiln, around 2.5m x 1.2m! Ham Green potters usually produced jugs, tripod pitchers, cooking pots, bowls, lamps, and dripping trays, with designs of humans and animals. They used the River Avon and Severn to trade; many Ham Green pots have been found in Ireland. Some of our finds show evidence of local geology being incorporated, such as quartz and limestone being crushed into the pottery. Additionally, the high levels of iron are easily identified due to the colour of the pottery.
We spoke to Ysabel, a first year student, about the pottery she had found. Ysabel found a new kind of pottery which was black and shiny; there is some speculation that it may pre-date the building. Ysabel says she thought it was unusual and was happy she found lots of different pieces. Afterwards, Ysabel and some other students cleaned the pottery with toothbrushes and water and commented that “It was nice to see the pottery come to life.” Whilst cleaning, the students discovered some pieces were quite charred. Top tips for cleaning pottery are be careful and go slowly!
We also spoke to the landowner, who described the volume of pottery found on site over the years. Over 13 years, 10,000 sherds of low grade quality have been found. 3 Ham Green jugs of high status were found during HARP projects. Over the years, a very small amount of sherds of Roman pottery have also been found. Lots of these sherds and pottery were found in the lower corner of the site – perhaps this was a well filled with rubbish?
Although not pottery, the landowner’s favourite find at the site is a Viking sharpening stone with a hole in, which was worn around the neck.

Jude’s Trench Summaries – Week 3

As I write this, I’m sitting in trench 1 as we dig deeper into the collapsed wall and rubble, cutting directly through a central ditch. The past two weeks have revealed a number of small but intriguing finds in this particular area of the site. Young members of the team have frequently extracted sherds of pottery and animal bone making for an especially excited atmosphere. The enthusiasm for potential finds here in the week to come is very palpable as I speak to Theo, a key part of the success in this trench. He says, in a determined and unamused tone, “I will find something this week”.
The trench is unique to the rest of the site in that is may represent an earlier phase in the development of the site here at Lower Hazel. Site manager, Joel explains to me that the lower surface of the trench that goes beneath the nearby wall indicates activity that was earlier than the walls themselves.

I venture over the baked earth and tired walls to trench 2 to see what is happening on the other side of the site. We have now excavated a long, thin and deep ditch as we follow what we think may be the foundation cut that we uncovered last week. However there is debate amongst the high ranked members of the dig about this ditch. Some are leaning towards other theories about the large rocks at the bottom of the ditch, postulating it may be a drainage system of some sort. There is no doubt, however, that this lower rock structure is from an earlier time than everything else. The pottery found here seems to be of an earlier typology than those found in other places. Aaron, who has been working this section for the last few weeks, admits this trench is still a mystery. 

In trench 3, there is a collection of busy workers trowelling hard. They explain that they are preparing the trench to be dug deeper into. Trench 3 has been responsible for most of the significant finds during the excavation, including a large part of a ‘Ham Green Pot’, a type of pottery associated with the Anarchy period.

As we come to our final week, there are still intriguing problems to solve in each area of the site. The mysterious story of the Hunting Lodge here at Lower Hazel continues to fascinate. 

A Semester Abroad in Bristol!

This semester we are lucky enough to have two brilliant students from the University of São Paulo in Brazil studying with us at Bristol. This means we also get to have them on the Hartygrove Excavation with us!

So we decided to get their insight as international students, and asked them each a few questions!


Why did you choose to study abroad at Bristol (and why Anthropology and Archaeology)?

I was looking into the exchange programme options at my home university, saw Bristol and it seemed like a great city to experience student life, as it’s very creative and intercultural. The University called my attention because of its rankings and of the units that would be available to me as a study abroad student. I had previously studied History and Archaeology of Classical and Hellenistic Greece, back in the University of São Paulo, but it was a theoretical unit. So Archaeological Practice was a great opportunity to have a more hands-on experience.

What have you learnt so far and how has it complemented your degree?

I have been able to learn what Archaeology is like in practice – what it’s like to be on site, how the surveying methods and equipment work, as well as taking part in the HARP excavations. As a student of Ancient Greek, it has been nice to develop skills that can open doors in the future, broadening my options of study beyond language and literature (my degree at my home university).

What have you been doing today (31/05/2023) at the excavations?

After helping remove rubble from one of the trenches that will be excavated, Juliana and I were asked to do a section drawing of what was presumably a doorway. We measured and recorded the stones using drawing materials:


Why did you choose to study abroad at Bristol (and why Anthropology and Archaeology)?

First, because of the language. I have been studying English for many years, so I knew I wanted to do a semester abroad in the UK. Second, during the process of choosing a University in the UK, I always caught myself going back to University of Bristol’s website because it showed to me a campus full of diversity and events that prioritize this same diversity. Once we were selected by the UoB it was time to choose the units. As a student of ancient Greek in Brazil, I was always, even before entering the University, curious about Archeology, so when me and Bianca saw that Bristol has a class called Archaeological Practice we made it one of our priorities, specifically because we don’t get the chance of having practical classes of archaeology like this one in Brazil.

What have you learnt so far and how has it complemented your degree?

In Archaeological Practice Class there is a great effort to teach from the basis to the latest technologies in the Archaeological field. Of course it is a lot, but to someone that has never studied Archaeology before it was an important opportunity to learn how the UK archaeology works and apply that in my future career. It has complement my degree in the sense that back in my home University my focus was on literature, but there is a huge field of the classical studies dedicated to Archaeology, which interest me as a student of Ancient Greek.

What have you been doing today (31/05/2023) at the excavations?

First me and Bianca worked removing stones with the trowel together with two other students. In the end of the morning we started to do a section drawing of the walls 16, 21 and 22 where there was supposed to be a door. 

Week 2: Theo’s Daily Diary

Day 7: Wednesday 31st May 2023

cartoon illustration of boy in bed with dream bubble above head containing a brush, trowel and archaeology sieve
The dreams of archaeology students…
Archaeology is a fascinating subject which can be subject to many interpretations and changes in how we view the world of the past. As such it can be the root of many peoples dreams. So I decided I’d find out what some of my fellow archaeology students dreams are. Though naturally with such a broad subject so were peoples dreams. We had many from ‘discovering Atlantis’ to finding out the way people behaved in the past by viewing their botanical food remains.
Though on the darker side of dreams is archaeological nightmares, talking to Alex I found out that not all finds are good finds on a dig. Whilst many of the students, when asked what they would like to find replied with ‘a human skeleton’, Alex said that this is normally a nightmare to find, though not because any spirits will be haunting your sleep but more because of the paper work required! Other than the large amount of paper work required,  if one is found you often have to excavate it and this can be an agonising task for an archaeologist who may have another trench which has definitive finds in it and all you can think about is the other trench. Also plans for reburial must be made and sometimes even a coroner must be called!

Just like the field of archaeology my question was left somewhat to interpretation and I also heard about what people had actually dreamt about archaeology. Some tasks in archaeology can be quite repetitive (the magic dust of causing dreams). Sometimes archaeology can be buried quite deep in the ground and troweling through meters of soil to get to the archaeology would be quite inefficient, so a 360 excavator machine will be used instead (aka a digger). One of our site supervisors Joel on another site was tasked with this job and said, ‘I watched a 360 excavator all day dreamt about watching it all day to wake up and watch it again.’ Another dream I heard about was from Izzie who said that after spending days troweling out the dirt from the walls, she dreamt that her pillow had turned into a rock and she had to trowel out the dirt from between it! She thinks she was actually half awake while dreaming about this and actually doing the action.

More unexpected insights to follow – stay tuned it!

Department of Anthropology and Archaeology Family & Friends Visit Day 2023


Today family members and friends of department staff were invited on to site to see the progress we have made since last years excavation, and to give the students a chance to demonstrate what they have learnt in the past week. While the adults were given a 360 tour of the site, students helped to oversee the workshop that we have been building for the last couple of months.


Children’s Archaeology Workshop

Perhaps the most fun part of the day were the children’s activities, set up in a clearing to the north of the excavation trenches. We hosted a mini-dig, washing line of time, archaeological activity book (which included a wordsearch, places to draw the finds from the mini-dig, tailored archaeological recording questions and a ‘design the strongest’ castle activity), as well as a ‘postcards from the past’ table.

A Washing Line of Time in the trees allowed the children to match pictures with events and their dates, and then put them into chronological order. This activity, while more generally historical was great group activity and required some real thinking to match up the dates to the event! It also gave the children the opportunity to talk about where they thought the excavation site fit in to the timeline, and helped to contextualise the site for them.

Last but certainly not least was the mini excavation, where not only lithic tools were ready to be excavated but chocolate too – after all, digging is hard work no matter your age and a little reward is of course required! The children who attended were excited to find the lithics we had planted – but more surprisingly, some unexpected finds made themselves known! A few animal bones and a lump of quartz were found by the children. While these were fairly unusable in terms of our archaeological excavation (as they came from an unstratified spoil context) they were invaluable to the little hands that lifted them, and excitement took over! It was excellent to see the children getting more excited about their archaeological finds than the buried chocolate?! Unprecedented!


Feedback from the children (and parents) who joined us today was great, with many asking if they could come back another day. Here are a few of our favourite quotes from our little diggers today!

Jack (Age 7) – “This place is AMAZING! Can we come again?”

Ben (Age 5) – “My best thing is that I found an arrow, I love it and I drew it! We want to come more, not just one time.”

Sofus (Age 3) – “I made my castle so the asteroid can’t break it”

Emily (Age 12) – “The washing line was good because I got better at it the longer I did it and started to work out the right dates and events, and some stuff I haven’t learned about in school”





Commencing Hartygrove Dig 2023!

Theo’s Daily Diary: The Perspective of a First Year on the Dig

Day 1: Monday 22nd May

As many of you will know, the first day of any seasonal excavation usually involves a lot (a LOT) of weeding and cleaning back of a years worth of debris! And our first day at Hartygrove was no exception (check out out Instagram instagram.com/bristol_archaeology/ for some amazing ‘Green to Clean’ transformations!). All three trenches were weeded and cleaned up in preparation for the archaeology to come!

Day 2: Tuesday 23rd May

Today we worked the trenches, trekking through the grassy fields after a long bus ride, we reached the medieval site of Hartygrove. Working there all of yesterday we knew what was to be done; so we set to work with little prompt. By trowelling around in the soil we managed to pull the soil from between the rocks. We brushed away the remaining dirt leaving the wall leaving fit for a photo of archaeological standard. Though this sounds like a simple task there were many challenges we had to overcome. Many people digging through nests of red ants, coming across startlingly massive spiders, including the false widow, the deadliest spider in the uk!

Though this was only part of our grilling work. Away from the shade and underneath the blazing sun, the other excavators were digging. Digging up the mud they worked together in a dynamic fashion, they quickly managed to locate many interesting artefacts, including animal bone and pottery.

Day 3: Wednesday 24th May

We kicked off today where we had left off from yesterday. With only a few changes, two of us had started to use the rover, a GNSS tracking device to measure some of the dimensions of the walls. The pair working with the device thought that it was a lot quicker than measuring and mapping out the dimensions of the wall as this does it automatically as you walk around. There were also people who had begun section drawing. This was exciting because it means that they have finally finished parts of their work on the excavation and can appreciate the done version before moving on, by measuring out the dimensions with a ruler.

More finds have been found today following on from pieces of oyster shell and broken pottery most likely from the medieval age. Though one incredible find came while clearing the rubble they came across a high status piece of pottery most likely from a wine pot, it was distinguished from the other finds because of its patterns along with its pretty green colour. With so many finds happening before the actual digging has begun, from just the gardening and clearing of rubble , many of the students on site are optimistic for what will be found.

Though the prospect of new technologies has got the students talking. Just before lunch break a drone was spotted flying in the air. Many students said they they were hoping to flying it.

In focus, an aerial drone and in the background out of focus, a man in a hat who is flying the drone

However not all went off without a hitch, as students came back from their lunch break to a temporary water shortage! It was quickly resolved by two students trekking back up to the tap across two fields for a refill but lessons were learned – maybe the drinking water shouldn’t be used for cleaning finds. 

Carry on reading as over the next few days I will write about my latest research on site and I interview staff and second years about last year.

Day 4: Thursday 25th May

A day of an excavator. We have seen many of the skills involved with excavations over the first few days. Most of us started with de-weeding, wearing thick gloves we pulled the overgrown plants from the area. Though the walls had been excavated last year dirt fallen into the cracks between the stone walls and plants had grown from the dirt leaving long roots all the way to the bottom. From that we began removing the rubble. Making constant trips back to dump our buckets full of spoil and wheelbarrows of stones. The trowel is bread and butter for an archaeologist, and in some cases they’re best friend. You can tell how experienced an archaeologist is by how attached they are to their trowel. It’s a great tool for removing the dirt from the rocks, digging out trenches, making the stratigraphic layers of the ground clearly visible and of course keeping you company when the conversation with your fellow excavators ends. In hard ground though a mattock can be a better option. Though less friendly it can do a quicker job than the trowel, when covering a larger area and precision is not as needed. Another important piece of equipment is the camera. When a feature has been properly excavated it needs to be recorded. How many archaeologists does it take to take a photo, in our latest case 6. One person to take the photo and another 5 to hold up a sheet above the site in order to make sure no shadows were captured in the image. No archaeologist would deny that the most exciting part of an excavation is finding something, though this only represents a small part of the time spent on a site, it is definitely the most memorable. Most finds are hard to tell apart from small rocks and can leave you eagerly studying each one, wondering if it’s in fact a piece of mid century pottery or slag, or just a small rock. Though there’s no better feeling than identifying a new feature or placing a find into the daily finds tray.

Day 5: Friday 26th May

As we came to work on Friday, we realised we there was still a find we were still hoping to see the whole of. Yesterday what seemed like the remains of an entire pot was found while removing rubble. If we didn’t manage to uncover it today we would have to wait until the next three days to uncover it, due to the THIRD May Bank Holiday. Of course we keenly tried to clear all of the nearby rocks removing them to see what we had found, an exhilarating prospect, as usually we may find a small bone or piece of pottery but finding a whole of an object is very rare. So by working speedily but being careful not to harm the find, we finally uncovered it. Work slowed though not because it was the end of the week, and many of us had the weekend in our minds, thinking about the three day holiday that awaited us, after we finished today. Instead it was to crowd around the now fully exposed pot. Murmuring around it one person even described it as ‘giving birth’. We look forward to hearing about Isotope analysis from the soil context and potential lipid analysis! Next week our Archaeobotanist Charlotte will be using a method called flotation to see if she can extract any charred floral remains! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for next weeks diary, and for project updates.



3rd Year Success!

A Celebrity in our Midsts?

Today (Day 4) on our Student Training excavation we were joined by a member of the University of Bristol’s Media and PR team! Jack came to site today to see one of our 3rd year students – Charlotte Harman – in action.

This year Charlotte won the ‘Everyday Hero’ award in the Bristol Outstanding Plus awards. The Bristol Plus status is awarded to students who go above and beyond working, volunteering and contributing whilst studying for their degrees. Charlotte is a single mother who has excelled at the university, and who is also volunteering with us this year on the dig! She has curated and executed archaeology lessons and workshops in local schools, worked with Bristol Museum on community archaeological outreach and worked with Operation Nightingale to build a recreation of a Bronze Age roundhouse (to name a few things!).

Charlotte has just handed in her dissertation “Planting Anarchy: Examining Archaeobotanical remains from the Hartygrove 2022 Excavations” so keep your eyes peeled for Charlottes upcoming blog post on what she investigated and found!

Charlotte has said when asked why she has decided to volunteer again in her 3rd year:

“It’s exciting! The thought that at any time you might find something is very exciting, and pair that with being in the outdoors with likeminded enthusiastic people, and there you have it! It’s also excellent for experience in excavation and experience at this site in particular.”

Well done to Charlotte for all of her achievements and look out for our Weekly Excavation Roundup!