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Curating the Palaeolithic: approaches to desk-based assessment and field evaluation, 23 March 2018

Learn to consistently make decisions about desk-based assessment and field evaluation for sites with the potential for Palaeolithic remains

Who should attend?

This course is aimed at heritage professionals, in particular planning authority curators, consultants and contractors, and those who aspire to become involved in this sector. It would also be of benefit to anyone with an interest in the Palaeolithic who wants to learn better how to recognise, assess and investigate potentially important sites.

Why should you join this course?

  • We will introduce participants to general curatorial principles in relation to managing the impact of development upon the historic environment, with specific reference to their implementation for Palaeolithic remains.
  • The course will include introductory presentations followed by practical, real-world case studies involving desk-based assessment and field evaluation of Palaeolithic sites.
  • There will be ample opportunity for discussion throughout the day, which will conclude in a “curatorial surgery” for which participants are encouraged to bring real-world questions and examples for group discussion.


At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Consider from desk-based information whether there may be important Palaeolithic remains at a proposed development location.
  • Understand the characteristics of Pleistocene (Ice Age) geology, sufficent to implement a "deposit-centred" approach for considering the likely nature and potential of any Palaeolithic remains.
  • Know when a Palaeolithic field evaluation is required, the range of methods to investigate for Palaeolithic remains, and when different methods would be most appropriate.
  • Interpret the results of a Palaeolithic field evaluation, namely how to decide whether or not important Palaeolithic remains have either been shown to be present, or been shown to be likely to be present.
  • Recognise the importance of palaeo-environmental remains and Pleistocene deposit sequences as important aspects of the Palaeolithic heritage.


Course outline*

  • Day 1, session 1: Introduction to approaches to the Palaeolithic
  • Day 1, session 2: Worked through examples of identifying the Palaeolithic in desk-based assessments
  • Day 1, session 3: Group work case study
  • Day 1, session 4: Methods of Palaeolithic evaluation

*This programme is subject to possible change.

Meet the course tutors

Dr Francis Wenban-Smith is a Principal Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Southampton. His work involves developing/leading major research projects and carrying out commercial archaeological investigations in advance of development, as a specialist in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, Quaternary geoarchaeology and lithic analysis.

As Historic England’s Science Advisor for the South East, Jane Corcoran provides advice to Local Authority curators and archaeologists on scientific aspects of developer-funded projects. She previously worked for 15 years as a geoarchaeologist and specialist in Quaternary Science for a commercial archaeology unit, where her focus was on interpreting soils and sediments, in order to better understand archaeological evidence. A key part of this work involved developing deposit modelling techniques, in order to predict where archaeology might be found within deep sequences of natural deposits. She is currently working with an external team on Historic England’s Deposit Modelling Guidelines, as well as advising on the updating of the Palaeolithic Guidance.

Lis Dyson is Head of Heritage Conservation at Kent County Council

Archaeologists excavating a flint knapping scatter.
MOLA reveal a 10,000 year-old flint knapping scatter in the Ebbsfleet valley © Photo by F. Wenban-Smith, reproduced by kind permission of MOLA

Course venue

Stonehenge Room, Historic England, The Engine House, Swindon, SN2 2EH

Course fee

The course fee for one day is £160, to include all tuition, lunch and light refreshments.

Please note that payment is by credit or debit card and we will require this payment within one week of receiving your completed form. If this is not received your place will be given away. Once we have received your completed form our payments team will phone you for payment of the course fees which is due in advance of the course; your place will then be confirmed.

If you choose to cancel your place within 28 days of the event we will not refund any costs. If cancelled earlier than this we will provide a full refund of £160.

How to book

To reserve your place on this course please email your completed booking form to: and await a telephone call from our finance department in the week following. Your place will not be confirmed until we have received payment.

Download the course booking form

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