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Excavations at Penycloddiau Hillfort, UK

Location: Cheshire, United Kingdom

July 20, 2014 to August 16, 2014

Session dates: 
Single session

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, July 13, 2014

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Liverpool & Institute for Field Research

Project Director:

Dr. Rachel Pope

Project Description

The site of Penycloddiau is the second largest hillfort in Wales.  Previous work in the region suggests that the large contour types – like Penycloddiau – may be the earlier of the two hillfort types.  As a result, our excavations are seeking to date the very origins of the hillfort in western Britain.  Through our excavations at Penycloddiau, we intend to discover when and why people first began to join together in these very large community-level groups, investigating this through the excavation of the social architecture itself.  The 2014 season will focus on the ditch and outer rampart area, to enable us to dig the construction sequence of the hillfort and to investigate whether the late farm track utilized an earlier gap in the monument is the original hillfort entrance. We also plan to open a new trench (Area 3) across an associated Iron Age roundhouse – so that we can understand the everyday life of those living inside the hillfort.

Period(s) of Occupation: Pre-Roman Iron Age

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full program length

Minimum age: 
18 years old

Experience required: 
No previous experience is required

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will live in relative comfort in an outdoor centre in the picturesque village of Burwardsley, Cheshire. We have a well-equipped kitchen, modest communal space, indoor toilets, showers, shared washing facilities, an outdoor seating area, and a campfire in the woods. Sleeping is in shared, single-sex bunk rooms. There is not a lot of room for storage and we request that you only bring oneitem of luggage, as space is restricted. Bedding is not provided, so please also bring a sleeping bag. There is lots of outdoor space for tents, and camping is recommended for those valuing their own privacy and personal space. There is a washing machine which will be available for use on our days off.
All meals will be communal and our dig chef can cater for vegetarian, vegan, and kosher diets, as well as wheat and lactose intolerance, and nut allergies. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Dinner will be served in the evenings at around 6.30 pm. There will be a rota for off-site communal-living tasks such as washing-up, preparing breakfast, cleaning, etc.

All room and board costs are included in tuition (excluding weekend meals)

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units)


Contact Information
Institute for Field Research
1855 Industrial St. #106
Los Angeles
United States
424 226-6130
Recommended Bibliography: 
Carver, M. 2009. Archaeological Investigation. London: Routledge. [chapter on excavation practice]
Cunliffe, B. 1983. Danebury: Anatomy of an Iron Age Hillfort. London: Batsford.
Cunliffe, B. 2004a. Iron Age Britain. London: Batsford. [chapter on society]
Cunliffe, B. 2004b. Iron Age communities in Britain, 4th edition. [chapter on hillfort defences]
Gale, F. 1991. "The Iron Age." In J. Manley, S. Grenter, and F. Gale (eds) The Archaeology of Clwyd, 82-96. Clwyd County Council.
Guilbert, G.C. 1975. "Moel y Gaer, 1973: an area excavation on the defences." Antiquity 49, 109-117.
Haselgrove, C. 2009. "The Iron Age." In J. Hunter and I.B.M. Ralston (eds), The Archaeology of Britain, 2nd
edition. London: Routledge.
Hill, J.D. 1989. "Re-thinking the Iron Age." Scottish Archaeological Review 6, 16-24.
Hughes, G. 1996. "Old Oswestry hillfort: Excavations by W.J. Varley 1939-1940." Archaeologia Cambrensis 143, 46-91.
Lock, G. and Pouncett, J. 2013. Excavations at Bodfari hillfort, Flintshire: An interim report. Oxford:
University of Oxford.
Manley, J. 1991. "Small settlements." In J. Manley, S. Grenter, and F. Gale (eds), The Archaeology of Clwyd, 97-116. Clwyd County Council.
Mason, R.G. and Pope, R.E. 2013. Excavations at Penycloddiau hillfort, Flintshire: An interim report.
Liverpool: University of Liverpool.
Pope, R.E. 2008. "Roundhouses: 3,000 years of prehistoric design." Current Archaeology 222, 14-21.