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How Scottish students are digging together to build history

Over the last eight years tens of thousands of items spanning 55 million years of history and pre-history have been found by archaeologists working alongside the project team at one of Europe’s biggest current construction projects.

Although London’s Crossrail might be exceptional in its scale, the idea of archaeologists being on contraction sites is common place – building in any area considered to be of historical importance will have some sort of archaeological involvement along the way. Yet most archaeology students never set foot on a building site during the course of their studies, and most construction students have never met an archaeologist, which leaves students with a skills gap when they enter the world of work.

In Scotland we want to change that. Building History is a unique pilot project bringing together construction students from Forth Valley College with archaeology students from the University of Stirling in a four-day training programme and dig at the Pineapple in Airth.

The Pineapple in Airth

September is Scottish Archaeology Month and 2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, so it is a great time to bring together the construction and heritage sectors and local community for this unique opportunity for students to learn new skills and gain valuable practical experience.

Partnership working is at the heart of this exciting project, with involvement from Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, Forth Valley College, the University of Stirling, Historic Environment Scotland, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and Dig It! 2017 (which is coordinated by Archaeology Scotland and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland).

As well as the student training and dig, partners from the construction and archaeology sectors, colleges and universities will be sharing their expertise to help shape future courses to include similar collaborative working.

We’re aiming for the course work of Forth Valley College and the University of Stirling specifically to include construction and archaeology collaboration like Building History and we’re looking at how this can lead to a recognised professional qualification from the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists for students. There’s also exciting potential in work like Building History forming a new progression route between college and university for construction students. 

At the Scottish Funding Council we get to see how collaborations between people like data specialists and medical researchers or musicians and mathematicians can change the way we solve problems and innovate for the future. It’s always exciting and I’m extremely interested to see how our young builders and archaeologists get on. Watch this space!


Andrew Youngson, Senior Policy Officer, Research and Innovation - 15 Sep 2017