The University of Buckingham has introduced as part of its London-based Programmes a new research MA in Archaeology: Stonehenge a Landscape Through Time which offers a unique opportunity to study the subject of archaeology and the celebrated site.
The World Heritage Site of Stonehenge has intrigued scholars for centuries, with each succeeding generation learning more about the site and its setting, amongst the other henges and richly furnished burial barrows located on Salisbury Plain. This groundbreaking London-based programme is led by David Jacques
, director of the internationally significant excavations at Vespasian’s Camp, near Stonehenge, and supported by the latest generation of archaeologists to work in the area. Located just 1,500m from Stonehenge, and 500m from Blue Stonehenge, the Vespasian’s Camp site is providing new evidence for the first humans to occupy the Stonehenge landscape during the Mesolithic period. Tantalising new evidence from these excavations suggests that this site may begin to explain why Stonehenge was built where it was.
There will be opportunities for students to take part in field work at the site as well as to visit the archaeological sites in the Stonehenge landscape.
The programme runs from October 2014 to September 2015 and will consist of a series of ten research seminars, supplemented by two optional three-day weekend fieldtrips, each of which combines visits to major archaeological sites with first-hand fieldwork at Vespasian’s Camp, and two dissertation workshops. There will be a buffet dinner at the end of each seminar. Examination will be by original dissertation of no less than 20,000 words.
The research seminar programme has two strands. The first offers a broadly chronological survey of British prehistory focusing on the internationally important landscape of Salisbury Plain and the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, enabling students to place their own individual research within the broader context of developments in human society and culture since the end of the last Ice Age.
The second strand offers support to students considering how to devise a successful research project, and structure a dissertation. The seminar series complements their individual research project and dissertation; and at the heart of this MA is the close working relationship between student and supervisor. Dissertations may be either library- or fieldwork-based, and address themselves to any of archaeology’s sub-fields. While the final thesis topic is chosen by the student and must be an independent work, it is the supervisor who offers advice on refining the topic as necessary, on primary sources, on secondary reading, on research techniques and on writing the final text, which should be not less than 20,000 words. Supervisors and students will meet frequently throughout the year, and not less than twice a term; and the supervisor is the student’s primary contact for academic advice and support.
This is a London-based course. The seminars will be held in the Wheeler Room within the handsome surroundings of the Society of Antiquaries in central London (Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ES). The nearest London Underground Stations are Green Park (Victoria, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines), Bond Street (Central and Jubilee lines) and Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines).
Each seminar lasts approximately 90 minutes and will begin at 18:30. The seminars are followed by a post-seminar dinner, for those who wish to attend, where there will be an opportunity to continue the seminar discussion in an informal environment.
The indicative contents are as follows:
Part One: Fieldwork: Site visits and Excavations.
There will be an opportunity to take part in two field trips each term, taking place over a long weekend – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This element of the course is not compulsory and so will not be assessed, but for those intending to conduct excavations of their own, they provide the student with an indispensible introduction to the techniques involved in archaeological fieldwork. The cost of fieldwork transport, subsistence and entrance fees is not included in the course fee. Fieldwork will take place in October 2014 and spring 2015, and will be centred at the Vespasian’s Camp archaeological site, near Stonehenge. Full training will be given in field techniques by David Jacques and two other professional archaeologists, Tom Philips (Oxford Archaeology) and Tom Lyons (British Museum).
During each weekend, students will also have the opportunity to take part in guided tours. Sites visited over the two weekends will include the World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge, and its associated Cursus, Avenue, and barrow fields as well as the site of Blue Stonehenge, Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. There will also be an opportunity to visit Avebury, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow together with the Amesbury and Avebury Museums and Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
Accommodation in Amesbury will be arranged and each weekend will include a dinner for all those taking part.
Part Two: Stonehenge a Landscape Through Time: The History, Theories and Practices of Archaeology seminars
Seminars will be held on Tuesdays at 18:30 and will be of 90 minutes’ duration.
7 October 2014. David Jacques (University of Buckingham): Course introduction.
Professor Lord Colin Renfrew (University of Cambridge): Stonehenge and the radiocarbon dating revolution.
16, 17, 18 October 2014. David Jacques, Tom Phillips (Oxford Archaeology), Tom Lyons (British Museum): Fieldwork Weekend Number 1.
27 October 2014. David Jacques (University of Buckingham): The post-glacial occupation of Salisbury Plain (the focus will be on recent excavations of the Mesolithic site at Vespasian’s Camp).
4 November 2014. Professor Tim Darvill OBE (Bournemouth University): Neolithic Monuments: first phases of Stonehenge, long barrows, the early Henges, the Cursus.
11 November 2014. Dr Barry Bishop (Lithics Society): The development of prehistoric flint-work in the Stonehenge World Heritage site – changing uses and influences from the Mesolithic to Bronze Age.
18 November 2014. Dr Mark Bowden (Senior Investigator for Stonehenge, English Heritage): Bronze and Iron Age: later phases of Stonehenge, round barrows, defended sites ‘hillforts’: Vespasian’s Camp, Danebury and Old Sarum, Roman period.
25 November 2014 (TBC). Dr Nick Branch (University of Reading): Changing environments in the Stonehenge area from post glacial times to the Iron Age.
2 December 2014. Professor Peter Rowley-Conwy (Durham University): New approaches to evaluating the use of animals in the Stonehenge landscape in the prehistoric periods.
9 December 2014. Course Christmas Dinner.
Part Three: Dissertation Support Seminars
13 January 2015. Devising a viable project: examples from different contexts and media.
20 January 2015. Recording and data analysis: field survey, object identification, use of library and archival sources including JSTOR, the Historic Environment Record and Portable Antiquities Scheme databases, statistical analysis for archaeologists, interpretation of aerial photograph and satellite imagery.
27 January 2015. Writing up and the production of archaeological knowledge. Guidelines for writing a successful dissertation.
17 February 2015. Dissertation Workshop One.
6, 7 and 8 March 2015. Fieldwork Weekend Number 2.
7 April 2015. Dissertation Workshop Two.
The MA degree is awarded on the basis of the dissertation, which should be not less than 20,000 words. The supervisor provides advice in identifying and defining a research topic, assisting the candidate in locating sources and developing approaches to the chosen topic. Supervisors and students meet regularly, and the supervisor is the student’s primary contact for academic advice and support.
How much will it cost?
Tuition fees and methods of payment, including discounts for advance payment, can be found on our postgraduate tuition fees page
. The fees for 2014-15 for UK/EU students are £6,500 for full time students and £3,250 for Associates. Fees include seminar dinners and hotel expenses at Amesbury for full-time students and seminar dinners for Associates.
For those taking the course as Associate Students, this seminar programme may be enjoyed as a self-contained survey of Stonehenge and its landscape and of British prehistoric archaeology. This status will enable the student to attend the ten research seminars and take a full part in the seminar and buffet dinner discussions, as well as optional field trips, but does not require the submission of written work. Associate Students are not registered for, and do not receive, the MA degree.
About the Society of Antiquaries
The origins of the Society of Antiquaries date to 1586 and the foundation of the College of Antiquaries, but it was not until 1751 that the Society was granted a Royal Charter and took on its present form. The role of the Society was, and continues to be, ‘the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of antiquities and history in this and other countries’. Since 1874, the Society has been based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, which also houses its museum, gallery and library.
Books: general introductions
- Cunliffe, B., Britain Begins (OUP, 2013)
- Darvill, T., Stonehenge: The Biography of a Landscape (Tempus, 2005)
- Lawson, A., Chalkland: An Archaeology of Stonehenge and its Region(Hobnob, 2006)
- Parker Pearson, M., Stonehenge: Exploring the Greatest Stone Age Mystery(Simon Schuster, 2012)
- Renfrew, C. & P. Bahn, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (Thames and Hudson, 1996)
- Butler, C., Prehistoric Flintwork (Tempus, 2005)
- Bradley, R., An Archaeology of Natural Places (Routledge, 2000)
- Legge, A. & P. Rowley-Conwy, Star Carr Revisited: A Re-analysis of the large mammals (Birkbeck College, 1998)
- Jones, A., G. MacGregor et al., Colouring the Past (Berg, 2002)
- McOmish, D., D. Field & G. Brown, The Field Archaeology of the Salisbury Plain Training Area (English Heritage, 2002)
- Rainbird, P. et al., Monuments in the Landscape (Tempus, 2008)
- Whittle, A., A. Bayliss et al., Gathering Time: Dating the Early Neolithic Enclosures of South Britain and Ireland (Oxbow, 2011)
- Higgs, E., “The Excavation of a Late Mesolithic Site at Downton near Salisbury, Wiltshire”, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 25 (1959), 209-232
- French, C. et al., “Durrington Walls to West Amesbury: A Major Transformation of the Holocene Landscape”, Antiquaries Journal 92 (2012), 30
- Hunter-Mann, K., “Excavations at Vespasian’s Camp Iron Age hillfort”,Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Magazine 92 (1999), 39-45
- Jacques, D., T. Phillips & M. Clarke, “A Reassessment of the Importance of Vespasian’s Camp in the Stonehenge Landscape”, Past 66 (2010), 11-13
- Jacques, D., T. Phillips & T. Lyons., “Vespasian’s Camp: Cradle of Stonehenge?”, Current Archaeology 271 (2012).
Course enquiries and applications