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'A training process that ... laid the solid foundation of my own career a professional archaeologist.'
Ethan Ellis, Archaeology Graduate, University of Chester

Ethan's graduate story

On graduating from the University of Chester in 2016 with a degree in History and Archaeology, I successfully began a trainee programme with Cotswold Archaeology. Here I developed my skills on a site along the Suffolk coast, excavating the remains of a Neolithic settlement and an abundance of Iron Age round houses as part of the large ‘EA1’ project. While at Cotswold Archaeology I was also able to work on the A14 project in Cambridge excavating and recording Iron Age and Romano-British rural settlements, as well as other small excavations with a variety of historic phases, across the southern sphere of the country.  This experience allowed me to build on the knowledge and experienced I’d gained while at Chester and really develop my skills into being a fully-fledged, professional archaeologist.

In 2019, I decided that for my own career development I needed to branch away from rural archaeology and worked for MoLA, primarily based in London, so I could gain experience of more urban archaeology where the stratigraphy is often very complex. One of the highlights was working on a 19th century workhouse and burial site that had supposedly inspired Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist! I was also fortunate enough to excavate Roman structural remains in the heart of the city near the ‘The Gherkin’, as well as excavate a large cemetery in Birmingham as part of the massive programmes of excavation in advance of HS2.

In the same year, I chose to spend some of the summer on a short excavation in Italy, focusing on a Roman Villa which was set within a later medieval castle complex. Here I had the opportunity to unearth and excavate a well persevered mosaic floor, in addition to a medieval road that ran along the villa. I also learnt a little about international methods of recording.

By taking a range of opportunities that allowed me to broaden my own skillset and experiences I was able to identify areas of the discipline that I was particularly good at, or enjoyed. I found that I developed a keen interest in building archaeology and I finally decided to continue my education and pursue an MA programme in Conservation Studies at York.

Since graduating from my MA, I chose to experience more sites in the Northern of England and Wales. As a result, I have been able to excavate a 1st century Roman garrison rich in finds in North Wales and I am currently working for L-P Archaeology from their office in Chester. So here I find myself, back where it all began but continuing to develop my career path further by specialising more in historic building recording.

Not only that, as part of my role at L-P I have found myself fortunate enough to be back in Grosvenor Park, where I had my own training excavation some six years prior. This time however, I was working alongside the University and CWaC to assist and train the next generation of archaeologists doing their degrees at Chester.  It was great (if not a bit surreal!) to be working alongside the familiar faces that directed and tutored me, but more so, it was extremely rewarding to contribute to a training process that had laid the solid foundation of my own career a professional archaeologist.