Each summer, the Medieval Studies program sends students to live and study at Herstmonceux Castle, in beautiful East Sussex, England. There, our students have the opportunity to participate in the Bader International Study Centre’s Summer Field School in British Archaeology. Students earn uWaterloo credits in Roman and Medieval Archaeology and work on a real archaeological excavation.
In May 2013, graduate student, Patrick McGuinness, received funding to travel to England and conduct primary archival research on the castle for his MA theses. Read his testimonial below.
The field study at Herstmonceux Castle guarantees the development of certain skills that simply can not be learned in a Canadian university. The biggest problem studying pre-modern history in Canada is that there is no visible or tangible evidence history in our daily lives. However, this field school in England allows for students to live and learn surrounded by history. Not only do students learn about Roman villas, Norman castles, and Saxon settlements, they are also given the opportunity to visit and explore such sites for themselves. Students will be able to explore dozens of similar course-related sites throughout the five-week field school that help develop and solidify knowledge that is not so easily learned in North America. In addition, students learn several different archaeological theories and practices in order to take part in an excavation. There is no better and more fulfilling way to connect with history than by finding it first hand buried in the dirt and clay.
This opportunity can help enhance a degree in Medieval Studies because it is a once in a lifetime experience. Students will learn archaeological principles and practices, as well as over one thousand years of British history. They will learn to critically analyze primary documents and historical sites. It is also a great experience to add to a resume and a great way to develop close relationships for academic references. And finally, students will also make new friends and new memories that will last for a lifetime.
Personally, having attended the trip in the summer of 2013, I can assure anyone interested in this trip that it is a truly
transformative experience. I would encourage anyone with a strong desire or passion for learning to consider this once in a life time opportunity.