Stratigraphic Analysis in Archaeology


The excavation and analysis of archaeological sites is based on stratigraphic principles that provide a consistent framework for identifying, recording, sequencing and interpreting what is found. Most archaeologists today work with this approach, and the ‘context sheet’ and stratigraphic matrix are as essential as the trowel in the modern archaeologist’s toolkit. However, many archaeological sites reveal very complex sequences of hundreds or even thousands of different natural and man-made deposits and events, and ordering them into a coherent site narrative can be a very challenging process.

This course is designed to develop your skills in post-excavation stratigraphic analysis. Starting with a review of first principles, we will look at how sites form through a combination of natural processes and human interventions. We will then review core principles of archaeological stratigraphy, the construction of a stratigraphic matrix and the first stages of analysis as contexts are brought together into meaningful groups. We will then look at how dating information is applied, and groups are combined in discrete phases of activity to form the first building blocks of a site narrative. The methods taught can be applied to any archaeological site; however, the course will focus upon complex urban stratigraphy, which presents the greatest challenges.

The course is designed for those who are familiar with the processes of excavation and stratigraphic recording, and are looking to develop their skills in the post-excavation stages of analysis, dating, and interpretation. The course will comprise a combination of presentations to explain theory and approaches, and practical sessions providing opportunities for participants to work with real data. The course tutors have many years’ experience of analysing and describing complex stratigraphy and offer a wealth of practical help and insights.


National Occupational Standards for Archaeology: this course contributes to the Knowledge Requirements for

AC8      Undertake analysis and interpretation


and supports the Performance Requirements for

AC1      Research and analyse information to achieve objectives


AC5      Contribute to intrusive investigations



Programme details



9.00am               Registration and coffee / tea

9.30am               Welcome and Introduction

9.45am               Site formation processes 

10.30am             Stratigraphic analysis: the matrix

10.45am             Coffee/tea

11.15am             Practical exercise: constructing a matrix 

12.15pm            The matrix: feedback and discussion

12.45pm             Principles of grouping and landuses

1.00pm               Lunch

2.00pm               Grouping contexts into meaningful units

2.15pm                Spot-dating and phasing: an interactive exercise

3.00pm               Preparing landuses from group matrix and writing the


3.45pm               Tea / coffee

4.00pm               The sequence: group presentations

4.30pm               Questions and round up

4.45pm               Course closes




Description Costs
Tuition (includes coffee/tea) £222.00
Baguette £5.00
Hot Lunch (3 courses) £15.00


Payment of fees must be made in full at the time of booking.

Please note that businesses and organisations can be invoiced on provision of a Purchase Order and completed application form. These can be emailed to the CWHE Programme Administrator, email:


Rebecca Haslam


Rebecca Haslam is a Senior Archaeologist at Pre-Construct Archaeology. She has directed many large-scale urban projects, specialising in the excavation and publication of post-medieval material

Ms Victoria Ridgeway

Course Director

Victoria Ridgeway is editor and manager of Pre-Construct Archaeology’s monograph series. She has many years’ experience in the excavation and publication of complex urban sites of all periods across Greater London


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then plesae contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.