Over the years, many people have worked hard to help establish Archaeology Live! as one of Britain’s most popular training excavations. The project as a whole is managed by a team of full-time field archaeologists who have collectively spent decades working for York Archaeological Trust(!) If you’re joining us on-site this summer, here’s who you’ll be working with…

Name: Toby Kendall

(no Toby is not a shortened version of anything, I share my name with many dogs and a few ponies!)

Toby and his faithful companion Harry.

Toby and his faithful companion Harry.

Age: 42

Born: Saltburn, but I have lived in and around York since I was 9 months old.


Archaeology background: I studied an Archaeology BSc at the University of Bradford and followed this with the Scientific Methods in Archaeology MA straight afterwards. Whilst at Uni I spent 5 summers digging in Pompeii and also worked elsewhere in Italy and at the YAT conservation labs during my industrial placement year. After my studies I went straight into commercial field archaeology and worked at a few units in the North of England. YAT was one of these and since 2002 I have worked solely with them, getting more responsibilities and running larger projects as time goes on. I have worked on Archaeology Live! since it started in 2001 and since 2005 I have been its director (Obviously the team we have in place are the people who make it possible). So this coming summer in 2018 will be the 18th Year I have been working with the project!

Toby excavating a Roman pot.

Toby excavating a Roman pot.

Why I chose archaeology as a career? Money, Fame, Treasure & Glamour! Only joking. I guess it is because I am curious about what, when and why things happened in the past. Some jobs are not as much fun as others, but the balance is always massively positive.

Favourite thing about Archaeology Live! Meeting new people and seeing how much enjoyment they get when they get the ‘answer’ to the question they were looking for with the archaeology.


Name: Arran Johnson577643_3127076544610_828577317_n

Age: 34

Born: I was born in Doncaster, but raised in our nation’s capital, Barnsley.

Archaeology background: I graduated from the University of York in 2005. By this point, I’d been involved in research projects in the Peak District and the North York Moors. My first professional work came through the University when I spent four summers supervising the excavation of a Romano-British defended settlement adjoining the Iron Age hillfort of Castell Henllys in Pembrokeshire. In 2006, I cut my teeth in commercial archaeology working for Archaeological Services WYAS. Here I worked on a number of prehistoric and Roman sites across West and South Yorkshire. In January 2007, I was lucky enough to become part of YAT’s Hungate team. During the Hungate excavation, I worked on some truly amazing archaeology covering two millennia of York’s history. It was at this point I acquired my reputation for finding Viking cesspits in the most unlikely of places…

Since 2011, I have been part of the Archaeology Live! team, dividing my time between commercial fieldwork and looking after the training dig – which makes for an interesting but rather busy life!

My quest to find a securely stratified 10th century horned helmet continues…

Arran in his natural environment (a Viking loo...)

Arran in his natural environment (a Viking loo…)

Why I chose archaeology as a career?

Standing by a tree in the woods around Worsbrough Bridge at some point in the early 1990s, I noticed that a couple had carved their names in the tree in 1952. I was fascinated with the idea of shared space separated by  time. I’ll obviously never know what happened to Mick and Kathy, but I know that they once stood on the same spot I did. It’s this intangible connection to the people that lived before us that I love about archaeology. Gathering forgotten moments and stories from what we find in the ground is a fascinating process that I never tire of and doing it for a living is a real privilege!


Favourite thing about Archaeology Live!

Every year, I get to meet people from all over the world who are united by a common interest. I then get to share my passion for the discipline and watch as people make discoveries of their own. Being part of Archaeology Live! is fun, rewarding and always the highlight of the year!




Name: Becky Wilson

Age: 25

Becky excavating on a Roman cemetery

Becky excavating on a Roman cemetery

Born: Leeds

Background: Studied History and Archaeology at University of Edinburgh. I was a trainee with ArchLive on Hungate in 2010. I took part in a training excavation in 2012 at Prastio Mesorotsos in Cyrpus excavating bronze age features. I was a placement for ArchLive in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for about a combined 7 months. I started my commercial career with YAT in October of 2015 and I’ve also worked for NAA.  I have now been a member of YAT for two years and will hopefully be here for many more.

Becky and co opening up the site to the public.

Becky (left) opening up the site to the public.

Why I chose archaeology as a career: When I was a wee 17 year old trying to decide what to do in University with a vague notion of history, my mum suggested having a go at archaeology and, conveniently, there was a training excavation happening 30 minutes away from where we lived: Archaeology Live! Dig Hungate. So I toddled along one Monday morning in the summer of 2010, entered the Hungate warehouse and watched a man open a can of full fat coke at 9.30 in the morning (that was Toby). The course was an amazing experience and it convinced me to take archaeology at university.

Becky exposing the cellar of the Leeds Arms, one of Yorks lost pubs.

Becky exposing the cellar of the Leeds Arms, one of York’s lost pubs.

When I came back to Archaeology Live! as a placement in 2013 it was like a switch flicked in my brain and I realised this is what I wanted to do. I spent the next few summers in York and, apparently, if you don’t leave eventually they give you a job. So, really, I owe it all to Archaeology Live!

Favourite thing about Archaeology Live: The joke answer here is the pub. The actual answer is getting to meet new people every year, or see old friends all united in the common interest of archaeology. Its the highlight of the year.


Name: Katie Smith

Age: 23

Born: Scarbororough

Katie and her first ever Roman pot

Katie and her first ever Roman pot

Archaeology background: I graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2016 with a degree in Archaeology of Ancient Civilisations. Whilst a lot of my degree was based around the study of the archaeological remains of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans; my field experience was all UK based, with my university organised dig taking place on an Iron Age hillfort in North Wales. By graduation I was part way through my fifth season on Archaeology Live! which was also my second stint as a placement. In September 2016, I was hired by YAT as part of their commercial team for a large scale rural job in East Yorkshire. Fortunately, I have been in constant employment with YAT since then and have been able to work on a variety of sites dating from prehistoric through to the industrial era. The highlights were returning as part of the commercial team to Hungate in March 2017, as this is where I first had a go at archaeology back in 2012; and working on the Newington Hotel site, where a Roman funerary landscape was revealed in spring 2017.  I managed to come full circle as I joined the Archaeology Live! team as a supervisor for the 2017 season at North Street.

Katie and Becky

Katie and Becky

Why I chose archaeology as a career: I’ve always had an interest in history from a young age thanks mainly to encouragement from my mum, as well as numerous school projects about the Viking and Roman history of the Scarborough and York area where I grew up. I knew that I wanted to go to University, but only on the basis of being able to study something interesting, and so I applied for various archaeology courses.

After being accepted, I realised that I had never even picked up a trowel, and should probably have a go at this archaeology thing before I signed up to three years of study and a potential career path involving it! This thought, as well as a need to find a suitable experience for a section of my Duke of Edinburgh’s award, meant that I signed up for a one week course on the 2012 season of Archaeology Live! I’ve not looked back since, as the training dig completely sold me on why the fieldwork side of archaeology was the path I wanted to go down once I finished my degree. Going back to the dig for longer and longer each summer since has only reinforced my enjoyment of the practice of field archaeology. I like being able to piece together moments and events in time through the archaeological process; and I find what you can learn about people from what they’ve lost, buried or discarded thoroughly fascinating.

Favourite thing about Archaeology Live! Pretty much everything, but particularly that everyone who takes part is so interested in archaeology  and helping them learn about it for themselves, in their own ways, and under their own steam. Its really rewarding watching people grow in confidence over time and have that moment where things just click and all of a sudden they’ve “got” recording, or levelling, or identifying a pot sherd. I know that feeling myself so its great to help other people get there too!


Name: Gus Shaw

Age: 25

Born: Llangollen

Gus teaching the art of single context recording.

Gus teaching the art of single context recording.

Archaeological Background: I did Life Long Learning night classes in archaeology just after I first moved to York in 2011, then came as a trainee on Archaeology Live! in 2013. Later that year came back and did my first two weeks of placement at Hungate and again next year at the All Saints excavation in 2014 before getting my first commercial job with YAT that summer. I then started my degree in archaeology at the University of York, but every summer came back to do commercial excavations. In 2015, I was a staff member on Archaeology Live! for part of that season, but even when I wasn’t on Archaeology Live! I would often take holidays and placement during the summer just for fun! In 2017 I finished my degree and started commercial archaeology full time at YAT.
Gus recording part of a Roman marching camp near York.

Gus recording part of a Roman marching camp near York.

Why I chose archaeology as a career: I have always loved history but I also love being outside and working with my hands, so when it came time to apply for university I was stumped…. Luckily my sister looked at these two things that I enjoyed and put them together and suggested archaeology. After my first time on a dig I was hooked and made up my mind that this was a job I could definitely enjoy doing for many years to come.
Favorite thing about Archaeology Live!: The people! I get to spend time excavating interesting things with interesting people, which is an amazing way to recharge your enthusiasm for archaeology. Also having to explain archaeological processes in a variety of ways when teaching helps me think and approach problems in new and interesting ways. All in all, doing Archaeology Live! is just great fun.
See you in the trench!

See you in the trench!