Stratigraphic Analysis in Archaeology

Course summary

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



9.00 am               Registration and coffee / tea


9.30 am               Welcome and Introduction


09.45 am             Site formation processes


10.30 am             Stratigraphic analysis (1): the matrix


10.45 am             Coffee/tea


11.15 am             Practical exercise: constructing a matrix 


12.15 pm             The matrix: feedback and discussion


12.30 pm             Grouping contexts into meaningful units


1.00 pm               Lunch


2.00 pm               Spot-dating and phasing


2.30 pm               Practical exercise: grouping, applying spot-dating and phasing


3.45 pm               Tea / coffee


4.00 pm               Feedback and discussion


4.30 pm               Questions and round up


4.45 pm               Course closes




Accommodation is not included in the price, but depending on availability it may be possible to stay at Rewley House the night before the course.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email  for details of availability and prices.

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.


Tuition (includes coffee/tea): £216.00
Baguette: £4.70
Hot Lunch: £13.50


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


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.