Field Archaeologist

Mr Robert Waterhouse BA (Hons), MCIfA, FSA

In August 2010, Mr Robert Waterhouse was appointed to the new post of Field Archaeologist.  This new post, currently funded by an anonymous donation from a benefactor of the Société, introduces professional skills to the work of the Archaeology Section.

The Field Archaeologist's work is split into several areas, which include:

  • Directing Société-led archaeological research projects
  • Bidding for and carrying out commercial archaeological projects in Jersey
  • Leading and teaching Archaeology Section members in research and post-excavation work
  • Developing research strategies for the Island’s future archaeological study
  • Advising on and monitoring the archaeological sites which the Société Jersiaise owns or leases around the island.
  • Carrying out personal research into the archaeology of Jersey
  • Developing and maintaining links with regional archaeological societies in France, England and the other Channel Islands

Mr Waterhouse is a full Member (MCIfA) of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and graduated from York University in 1993 with a 2:1 BA (Honours) degree in Archaeology, having previously studied at Bournemouth University for an HND in Practical Archaeology.  He was further honoured in 2011 by election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.  He worked in South-West England from 1993, including periods recording buildings with the National Trust in Somerset; scheduling ancient monuments for English Heritage in Devon; working for the conservation departments of two district councils in South Devon and acting as Consultant Archaeologist to the Devon Rural Archive.  From 2000 to 2010 he ran his own archaeological consultancy in Devon, carrying out eight years of research excavations and surveys at the open air industrial museum of Morwellham Quay in the Tamar Valley which divides Devon and Cornwall. He lives in Jersey with his wife Cathryn and daughter Charlotte.

Activities

The Field Archaeologist usually works with the Archaeology Section on its Thursday evening meetings, usually between 8pm and 10pm, though times may vary.  Depending on the season, this may take one of the following forms:

Work Sessions

These are held in the Section's rooms at La Hougue Bie and usually deal with post-excavation work on sites which the Société or others have excavated.  This work may involve finds washing, sorting and marking. The Field Archaeologist leads these sessions, which are an excellent opportunity to learn about the wide variety of artefacts which have been found in the island.

Lectures & Practical Sessions

From time to time, the Field Archaeologist may give formal lectures on Practical Archaeology.  These lectures are intended to introduce practical archaeological techniques to the Section and may be repeated in future for the benefit of new members.  Practical sessions are organised at various times of the year and include training in excavation, surveying, fieldwalking and artefact analysis.  Occasional lectures by other section members or visiting archaeologists are also arranged from time to time.

Main Activities of the Field Archaeologist

Commercial Archaeology

The Field Archaeologist organises and directs commercial archaeological excavations and surveys for private clients and architectural practices in Jersey.

Archaeological Excavations

The Field Archaeologist has been organising and directing archaeological rescue and research excavations in Jersey with the Archaeology Section since 2010. 

Field Survey

The Section carries out field surveys from time to time.  These often take the form of field-walking - collecting finds from the surface in a controlled way; or geophysical survey - using electrical devices to 'see' beneath the soil.  Surveys of this sort are regularly carried out by the Section under the direction of the Field Archaeologist and a selection can be seen here.

Geophysical Survey

The archaeology section owns a Bartington Magnetometer (pictured) and a Geoscan Research Resistivity Meter which it uses under the supervision of the Field Archaeologist to carry out surveys of the buried archaeology on sites of interest to us.  Archaeological geophysics enables us to see buried features such as walls, ditches, pits, hearths, etc, without having to excavate first.  It is used in conjunction with surface collection (field walking) to prospect for new archaeological sites and better understand existing ones.

Buildings Survey

The archaeological survey of standing buildings is an important part of the Field Archaeologist's work and is sometimes carried out as part of projects which include excavation of their floors and surrounding features.  Surveys of this sort have included rescue recording of a farmhouse in the Parish of Saint Ouen during the winter of 2010-2011, a detailed survey of an 18th century cottage at La Collette Gardens, Havre des Pas in 2011-12 and work in support of a commercial archaeologist at the Town Church, St Helier in 2012.

Special Events

Each summer the Field Archaeologist participates in the Council for British Archaeology's Festival of British Archaeology, which usually includes guided walks and a research excavation in which Section members and others from the Société Jersiaise are guided in the techniques involved.

The Field Archaeologist is also usually involved with Dolmen Day, organised by Jersey Heritage, which is in September every year, advertised widely, including on the Jersey Heritage website.

Learning Resources

The Archaeology Office is in the Société's premises at 7 Pier Road, St Helier.  It houses a significant part of the Lord Coutanche Library's collections, comprising substantial or complete runs of French and British regional and national archaeological journals. Doubles of books already in the main library are also present.  These collections may be viewed by appointment with the Field Archaeologist.