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Archaeology spotlight: Andrew Walsh
Applied Landscape Archaeology Master's graduate Andrew Walsh was appointed to his dream job - as archaeologist for Britain's remotest inhabited island, St Kilda.
'After graduating in 2004 with a degree in Archaeological Science from the University of Bradford I worked for a commercial archaeological company on numerous archaeological excavations and evaluations across the north of England. These projects ranged from test pitting for Mesolithic flints scatters on Saddleworth Moor, to evaluating a large (130 hectares) multi-period landscape near Castleford in Yorkshire, to undertaking urban excavations in Bradford. During this time I also worked on a number of earthwork and geophysical surveys which really developed my interest in landscape archaeology.'
'Although these commercial projects were often interesting they where usually in advance of development (housing, windfarms, quarrying etc) and I began to feel a sense of frustration with the limited nature of this type of work. I wanted do research which was not limited by a specific development area, and develop my skills as a landscape archaeologist, so I began to look at doing a part-time post-graduate course.'
'Because the Applied Landscape Archaeology MSc is taught on a Saturday it enabled me to continue to work full-time while studying part-time so was ideal for me.'
'The course had a range of hugely useful modules covering practical elements like Archaeological Prospection and GIS (Geographic Information System(s)), as well as modules on important topics such as Method and Theory, and Managing Historic Landscapes. The topics covered by the course have often been of direct use in my day to day job as well as vastly improving my understanding of wider issues. As well as the weeks field course in Oxfordshire I was also lucky enough to be able to take part in the Birsay-Skaill Landscape Project in Orkney in 2010.'
'During the course I developed an interest in rural medieval and post-medieval landscapes with a particular focus on western Scotland. My dissertation focused on examining current guidelines, practice papers and techniques (with specific reference to their usability for community/volunteer groups) for identifying and recording historic landscapes in Scotland. It also included a significant fieldwork element which involved walkover, earthwork and geophysical survey at the deserted township of Kilslevan on the island of Islay.'
'In March the job of Archaeologist based at St Kilda was advertised. The islands were occupied (on and off) for a least 4000 years until 1930 when the final 36 residents asked to be evacuated. In 1957 the islands were bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and in 2005 the archipelago became the UK's first mixed World Heritage Site for both its natural and cultural heritage.'
'The role is based on the main island of Hirta from April until September and my main duties include assisting and advising the NTS work parties who undertake conservation work on Hirta; undertaking the annual monitoring of some of the historic structures; maintaining and updating the St Kilda Sites and Monuments Record (SMR); providing heritage advice to the MOD, its agents (QinetiQ) and any other contractors on archaeological issues, and, if necessary, to undertake monitoring work (there is a small radar tracking station run by QinetiQ on Hirta); and producing an annual report describing the work which has been done over the season.'
'Working for the NTS as the St Kilda Archaeologist is too good an opportunity to be missed!'
Learn more about where Andrew is based on the NTS St Kilda website: www.kilda.org.uk/
The Department offers a comprehensive selection of courses in Archaeology, ranging from one-day events to postgraduate degrees. Please see our full range of offerings.