Archaeology field school to open at Welsh abbey

stone head of monk
Image caption Previous discoveries at the site include the stone head of a monk

The first archaeology field school will be held in mid Wales amid warnings of a lack of archaeologists in the UK.

The Strata Florida Trust is opening a trench on the site of the ruins of the 12th Century Cistercian abbey in preparation for the school in August.

Numerous artefacts have been found during previous digs at the site near Pontrhydfendigaid, Ceredigion.

The aim of the school is to provide vocational training and archaeology skills to members of the public.

David Austin, from the Strata Florida Trust, said participants were "going to be discovering new things all the time - big structures like the abbey's 12th Century aqueduct, buildings where we're excavating".

"It's 126 acres of archaeology and some of it is up to five or six feet deep beneath our feet. So there's a huge treasure house here."

Image caption A trench has opened on the site, located in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains

Previous digs have unearthed a variety of artefacts including a gold coin which dates from 1433, a pilgrim's lead ampula for collecting holy water and - Prof Austin's favourite item - a marble carved head of a monk.

Whatever is found, however, will stay with the Strata Florida Trust and inform their ongoing research.

At the end of May, the UK government's Migration Advisory Committee said it had "received compelling evidence suggesting there is a shortage of archaeologists".

The field school offers the chance for anybody to take part in an archaeological dig. And it's hoped it will inspire people from all backgrounds to take an interest in archaeology.

Jemma Bezant, director of the field school, which is being funded by the Allchurches Trust, said: "Archaeology is a fantastically interesting career. One of the things we're offering on the summer school is the opportunity to get your skills passport - which is recognised across the UK."

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