Department of Archaeology

History of the Department of Archaeology

With archaelogical fieldwork taking place since the 1920s, archaeology at The University of Nottingham has a long tradition.

In 1933, the University Museum was founded with the gift of pottery and other objects from excavations by Dr Felix Oswald at the Roman settlement of Margidunum, on the Fosse Way near East Bridgford in Nottinghamshire.

Prior to 1960 a few students studied archaeology for the higher degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. Courses in archaeology for undergraduate students began in 1962, initially single-option courses for students studying other subjects. Soon, however, joint honours degree courses and the single honours archaeology degree course were added so that, by 1970, a full range of degrees could be taken.

At first, the archaeology courses concerned themselves with prehistoric, Roman and medieval Britain. By 1970, the range of teaching had expanded to cover all of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Caucasus, from the Palaeolithic period to the Middle Ages, together with the history, principles and methods of archaeology. Fieldwork featured strongly, with important excavations at the Iron Age, Roman and medieval site at Ancaster in Lincolnshire, at sites elsewhere in the Nottingham region, and at the Neolithic, Iron Age and Dark Age site at Crickley Hill, in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. Students participated in all of these excavations, and also on fieldwork survey work and excavations abroad, in Greece, Bulgaria, Sardinia and France.

Professor Maurice Barley, author of the well-known book 'The English Farmhouse and Cottage', was Nottingham's first Head of Archaeology (at that time a section within the Department of Classics). It was he who pioneered the study of historic buildings at the University, developing what has become one of our most distinctive areas of expertise. Under Government-inspired moves in the later 1980s to rationalize the teaching of archaeology in British universities, Archaeology at Nottingham expanded rapidly. The number of teaching staff more than doubled as several archaeology departments elsewhere were closed or reduced and their staff and resources transferred to Nottingham. The admission of undergraduate students increased accordingly. In recognition of the status of archaeology as a discipline, a Chair of Archaeology was founded in 1994 and a separate Department of Archaeology came into being in 1995.

The Department is today part of the School of Humanities, which came into being on 1 August 1998. The School of Humanities comprises Archaeology, Classics, History, History of Art, Music, Philosophy, and Theology and Religious Studies. 

Back in the days – Students in front of a noticeboard

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Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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