Data management and stratigraphic analysis

Post-excavation course dates

*Dates TBC*


The cost of a week long course will be *TBC*. Please contact for bookings and enquiries.

* Please note that this course is open only to individuals who have participated in an Archaeology Live! excavation. We are developing a post-excavation courses for beginners – watch this space for updates.

Have you ever wondered what happens after an excavation has been completed?

The UK is home to many community archaeology projects and training excavations, although very few offer the chance to get involved with the work that happens between fieldwork and publication. As an educational charity, York Archaeological Trust is passionate about engaging the public in all aspects of archaeological research and these courses offer an exciting opportunity to take part in the post-excavation process.

What is post-excavation?

Anyone who has dug with us or followed our blog will be aware that our work creates a lot of paperwork! Single context recording breaks down complex layers of urban deposition into individual events, or contexts, that are excavated in reverse chronological order. For example, if a person living in 14th century York digs a rubbish pit in their yard, half fills it with refuse and then tops it off with clay to mask the smell, we have three contexts – a clay capping, a refuse layer and a pit cut. Each of these will be cleaned, photographed, drawn in plan, levelled, described on a context card and added to a stratigraphic matrix. These days we use a combination of hand-drawn plans, GPS/TST survey, paper records and digital records; this makes for a lot of paperwork!

Creating a digital Harris Matrix

Creating a digital Harris Matrix

Course information

After the success of our previous post-excavation courses, we have refined the content to offer a more focused approach and a greater emphasis on data management and stratigraphic analysis.

Digitised plans reveal a lost building.

Digitised plans reveal a lost building.

The courses will be held in the cosy confines of the archaeology library at YAT’s Dig! attraction on St. Saviourgate in the centre of York. The week will begin with a brief re-cap of the findings of the excavation and the recording methodology that has been employed. Days will then be spent creating and developing the digital archive, a process that will include:

  • Checking of records
  • Scanning and uploading of context cards to YAT’s Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB)
  • Scanning and digitisation of plan and section drawings
  • The building of a digital Harris Matrix.

Once a substantial amount of data has been uploaded, a number of different processes will be taught. These will include:

  • Analysis of the stratigraphic matrix – assignment of sets, groups and phases.
  • An introduction to the use of software such as GIS and CAD to carry out spatial analysis and process survey data.
  • An introduction to the use of DraftSight and Adobe Illustrator to produce publication drawings, map regressions, etc.
  • An introduction to assessment report writing and methods of dissemination of findings.

The post-excavation activities described above will form part of the final site archive, giving participants an opportunity to contribute to a professional archaeological report. The course aims to provide participants with a better understanding of the whole archaeological process and how to create a full digital archive and report from the primary data collected on-site.

Record checking. A paper archive must go through 'quality control' before being digitised.

Record checking. A paper archive must go through ‘quality control’ before being digitised.

The post-excavation courses give you the opportunity to get your name on an archaeological assessment report and experience a side of the profession that normally takes place behind closed doors. A PDF copy of the report will be sent free of charge to everyone who completes the course.

The December 2016 post-exc team

HINT: A useful way to track your progress as you learn new skills is to download our Archaeology Live Skills Checklist Post Ex document.

For bookings or further enquiries, please contact