Job profile for an archaeologist

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What do archaeologists do?

Archaeologists help look after the history and cultural heritage of national parks by making sure that man-made features are protected and that visitors are able to share their fascinating history.

archaeologists excavating a ring cairn in the Lake District National Park

Historical sites range in size and age from the prehistoric standing stones on Dartmoor, to battlements like Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, to more recent buildings like the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales.

These sites need protecting from natural erosion, damage from visitors and developers who may want to build on land that potentially has important archaeological finds buried in it. Archaeologists have to work with planners to make sure surveys and fieldwork are carried out on sites before building work starts. They also keep a careful record of every historic site in the national park.

Giving the public access to historical sites and finds and explaining the history of the national parks is also a key role for archaeologists. They work with education teams so visitors can learn about the past and the way people throughout history have shaped the landscapes that we see in national parks today.

Archaeologists spend some time out in the national park looking at proposed building developments, surveying historic sites and sometimes excavating finds. They also use computer databases to keep and search the records of historic sites and artifacts. They have to have good communication skills for writing reports, working with planners and helping the education teams explain history to the public.

What qualifications and experience do you need?

Standing stones in Dartmoor National Park

A degree in archaeology is usually required and membership of a professional association such as the Institute of Field Archaeologists. It’s also important to show you have experience of archaeological fieldwork, including excavating at digs and surveying sites.

You should have a keen interest in all areas of history and want to share your enthusiasm with others.

To get experience outside of your degree work, try volunteering with archaeology or local history groups in your area.

Further information

The links below will take you to other websites for more information.