• Nicholas Harrison

PhD research position offered to Soldier On! volunteer.

We have heard some great news from one of our former participants to share with you, which demonstrates the value of engendering self-sufficiency amongst our members. Tim joined us on an archaeological project at Caerwent in Wales in 2018 having struggled, due to a disability, to secure archaeology fieldwork opportunities.  We were working on private land that had been investigated in Victorian times.  Within the antiquarian trenches we opened there was an assemblage of pottery from various centuries that had been dug up and then thrown back into the trench when the soil was returned and the dig closed.  Similarly last summer, although we dug new trenches, one area in particular at Hampole also included the discovery of a previously dug trench where we discovered a jumble of finds from different eras, all mixed together from when the trench was 'backfilled'.  On both occasions, we needed someone one on the team who could make sense of this pottery jig-saw! We were so impressed with Tim's knowledge and project management abilities in Caerwent that we invited him to run the archaeological activities of the project we ran subsequently at Hampole in South Yorkshire last summer.  One of the reasons we were keen to invite Tim to manage the Hampole dig, was to enable him to demonstrate that his disability in no way reduced his effectiveness as both a manager and archaeologist.  Our ambition was for the time spent with us to act as a springboard to Tim returning to either full time employment or further education.   Building on the time he spent with us, Tim's expert pottery knowledge was acknowledged by the Strata Florida Archaeology Field School, where

Tim was offered a short-term contract as the on-site Finds Officer, identifying and recording the finds from the archaeology trenches where he expanded his network of both community and academic archaeologists.  He was again employed by the Trust to author the pottery report.   We are thrilled to be able to let you know that he has now been selected to commence research for a PhD at Reading University investigating Roman pottery.  

He says: "Being invited to take part in Soldier On's dig at Caerwent and then to be offered an opportunity to manage their project in Yorkshire has directly contributed to my being offered a PhD research position. The charity provided me with the ability to take the first steps to securing recent and relevant experience, to securing further work experiences with other organisations, and making new contacts that have gone on to securing my position as a PhD researcher.  Additionally, by removing the perceived barriers to securing recent field work experience, my time with Soldier On! has contributed enormously to not only my career development but also to my overall well-being and self-esteem". 

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