PhD studentship Perceptions of Prehistory: an investigation into the archaeology of a prehistoric landscape and the role and significance of community engagement in their subsequent management and understanding

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (through the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Scheme) and Bournemouth University. The Scheme is administered through the Dorset AONB and the studentship is part of a £3 million pound partnership project involving academics and professionals working in concert with the local community to enhance the understanding of the South Dorset Ridgeway.

Applications are sought that should include a first degree in Archaeology (2i or better) with preferably a Masters qualification in an associated area. Preference will also be given to applicants who have experience in community based archaeological projects and/or relevant experience in leading/supervising non-intrusive archaeological fieldwork.

Community archaeology has increasingly grown in importance in recent years both through the popularity and subsequent growth in public engagement generally, but also through the role it has to play via active participation in field based and desk based projects. Such projects greatly improve and enhance our understanding and knowledge of ancient sites and places but less frequently are undertaken on larger landscapes. In recent years the number of community based projects undertaken in the UK investigating landscapes both large and small has increased significantly with most tailoring their needs to the individual requirements of a specific project relying on a diet of continual re-invention of methodologies resulting in varying degrees of success in creating a continuing legacy beyond the life of the immediate project. This project will investigate models of best practice with a view to establishing an effective and adaptable ‘road map’ for community engagement in archaeological projects that seeks to explore, explain and promote a greater level of understanding of our ancient landscapes.

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The South Dorset Ridgeway has arguably the densest concentration of prehistoric funerary monuments within its confines of any comparable landscape in the UK. Yet its archaeological importance is rarely known outside of the archaeological profession in general and amongst prehistorians in particular. The challenge of such landscapes is to not only convey their inherent importance to a wider public base but also to foster and encourage on-going investigation at a community level, supported within a framework of academic and professional excellence.

This PhD studentship is an exploration into the mechanisms and methodologies employed in the engagement of local communities in the study of their archaeological heritage with a focus on the nationally important ceremonial and funerary landscapes located on the South Dorset Ridgeway in west Dorset. This three year investigation will involve the review of the known archaeological landscape and will focus on the role of the local community in undertaking fieldwork designed to efficiently investigate, process, disseminate and promote the archaeological heritage of the South Dorset Ridgeway to a wider audience.

For more information contact John Gale Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University. Tel: 01202 961449 email:

Deadline for applications: Friday 23rd August 17:00hrs

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