23 Jan 2023

Letter to a Young Archaeologist, January 2023

Jane Miller, Rebecca Barclay and S1 pupils from the Supported Learning Centre at Robert Burns Academy in Cumnock, East Ayrshire

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Questions from our young people


Our archaeologists' reply

Hello Young Archaeologists,

You asked us, ‘What’s it like to be an archaeologist?’ Thank you for your question. It's nice to stop and think about what an archaeologist is and what it's like to be one.

What is it like to be an archaeologist?

It's interesting and varied, taking us to amazing places, working with wonderful people and making exciting discoveries. Not necessarily treasures – what's really interesting is finding out about the everyday lives of people in the past. Holding an object that’s been buried for thousands of years and wondering about the last person to use it. What was their story? How did they live? What clues have they left behind? As you said, archaeology can help us ‘see’ the past.

So archaeology is all about people. The people in the past, whose stories we uncover and the people in the present we connect with as we uncover those stories.

Who can be an archaeologist?

There are many ways to be a young archaeologist, you don’t have to be studying archaeology at university or a member of a Young Archaeologists’ Club, just get involved. But to ‘get involved’ is not as easy as it sounds. We need to work with you to create interesting, inclusive opportunities that work for you.

We asked if you thought anyone could be an archaeologist. Your reply? ‘Yes … you just keep being passionate and you will be one’ and we couldn’t agree more. Whether you are a professional archaeologist, a volunteer on a community dig, or a young archaeologist; we all share a passion for the past.

What can you do for archaeology?

We need to hear new voices, to keep our work relevant. You shed a fresh new light on the past, see it through different eyes. We want to hear your ideas and imaginative interpretations.  You are the future after all.

What can archaeology do for you?

Archaeology has something for everyone; if science excites you or you’re a creative crafter, archaeology is for you.  If you’re curious about the past, an imaginative storyteller or just love exploring outdoors, archaeology is for you.

Archaeology doesn’t just help you understand the past but can help you navigate the present. You have learnt how to analyse evidence and evaluate sources, skills that will help you make sense of the complex world we live in.

Through archaeology you can use the learning you’ve done in the classroom, out in the real world where you can begin to develop skills for learning, life, and work.

Perhaps most importantly, archaeology can connect you to your place and communities.

‘We want to live in a Scotland where archaeology is for everyone!’

This is the vision of Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy, and archaeologists across Scotland are committed to making this happen. But there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that archaeology is truly inclusive. You are helping us to do that.

Your curiosity, enthusiasm and creativity have blown us away and we're sure will inspire other young people and encourage them to get involved in archaeology too.

We think archaeology's great, and we are glad you are part of it.

Keep the passion!

Jane and Becca

The Archaeology Scotland Learning Team

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