Everything is possible

Nowadays we life in a world with so many technological options which allow us to make the journey from Poland to England just in 2 hours. Today the sentence: ‘this is impossible’ is treated as a challenge to prove that everything is possible. It is a time for ambitious people to cross borders that previously seemed impassable. I would like to say that international students are these ambitious people, who cross borders every day. In this case, I don’t mean that we only cross the borders of our countries but also the borders of our capabilities.

Here we share with you opinions of our international students in the Department of Archaeology who took part in this project:


As an international student I really often thought that the fact that English is not my first language would be for me a huge problem. To be honest, during my first months at York it was a problem for me, but now I know that the problem was just in my head. This project helped me to realise that language is not such a big obstacle when we are creative enough. In some cases it is good to try to express ourselves even if sometimes we sound a bit silly, since making mistakes is the best way to learn. It was fantastic for me to see how much progress I made during this module.

Of course, this module helped me not just to develop knowledge about heritage, and to improve my English, but also gave me a quick look on a British tradition. In this case food. But let’s start at the beginning. It was a beautiful day, birds were chirping, the sun was shining. I was sitting and thinking about prosaic things, and then one of my colleagues said the magic sentence: ‘I want fish and chips’.  Happiness and delight appeared on my colleagues’ faces who unanimously agreed: we are going to get fish and chips. Yet, there are two kinds of people. Those who love Oreos and those one who hate them. I think that the situation with fish is quite similar. There are people who love fish and others who hate it. Unfortunately, in these two cases, I’m a person who hates Oreos as well as fish. But after long consideration, a thought appeared in my mind: wait, you are in England, in place where fish and chips are a tradition, you have to try it. So resigned to my fate, I went to the bar. While I was waiting to make my order, on my left side I saw the magic text which said: ‘CHICKEN NUGGETS FOR £1.7’ and then I knew that for me fish and chips are a thing of the past.


I’m also an international student on this course. Taking part in the project has brought me confidence. While I’m still not a professional archaeologist, I’m content with what I’m doing right now. At the beginning of the year, when people asked me what I’m studying at university and heard my answer, they would always be surprised at first, because many Chinese students like choosing business as their degree. Then, their next reaction would be like: WOW! That’s amazing! And did you dig something out? I was quite uncertain about my choice of doing heritage, because I do not excavate and I felt like maybe I was not doing the right thing, and maybe I should follow other people’s expectations.

However, as we got the chance to participate in the Breary Banks project, I realised that archaeology is not just about excavation, but it’s also the matter of displaying the past through different media. This realization changed my view on the relationship between archaeology and heritage. I remember that it was quite hard in the beginning. I was very lost during the lecture because of the speed and the accent of the lecturer. I found it interesting that when we were deciding in class whether or not to have a narrator with a very strong northern accent, my colleagues were discussing who has the most northern accent in the class, but actually, I feel like they all speak in exactly the same way, with very strong British accents. I couldn’t tell any difference!

Written by Eliza and Tongtong


The last step of our journey, the year-end exhibition

This year, like it was happening in the previous years, year-end exhibition will be the culmination of our first year at university. During the exhibition students who took part in  excavations at Malton and Breary Banks will present their panels which illustrate some aspects of the site where they excavated. This year the name of our exhibition is ‘‘Hidden voices’. Probably now, in your mind appear the question why hidden voices? What kind of connection has this title with archaeology? Answer is simple, all of us, no matter if we dig field or archives, try to bring to life voices from the past.



Photo from the previous exhibition. Photo by Colleen Morgan


When some of the students create their panel, the rest of as prepare the exhibition. However the preparation of the exhibition require from us a lot of engagement  so we decided to divide into two teams: curation(me, Emmeline, Jess and Steve) and media( Hermione, Tongtong, Ashley).  

As curation team our main task is to organize and supervise the exhibition. Because of the fact that panels will be created in the PowerPoint we had to check if all of the computers in G60 are working.  We need 16 computer since each group of students will be creating two panels.Unfortunately we discovered that some of them doesn’t work which meant  that we need  to request more laptops to take the place of the broken ones. Each station will also have headphones.  


Preliminary draft plan of G60.


What is more, we also had to order wine and crisps. In this case we had to make an important decision, how many bottles of wine do we need? Good news is the fact that we ordered more wine than in previous year! We also have to manage a voting station and create a ballot since all groups will take part in the competition for the best panels. The prize in this case is ‎£10 Amazon voucher for each member of the group. However,  this action is in progress since  we still have more than 3 weeks to the exhibition.


The last thing:

Come to ‘Hidden Voices’, the year-end archaeology exhibition on 9 June at 4PM in King’s Manor, G60. (Free food and wine in the programme!)


Written by Eliza

Stop4- Journey through the emotions

Stop 4 presents a story of the transition from Navvy to Army. At this point in the tour we are in the middle of our journey through Breary Banks. But this stop is not just a simple transition from one event to another, it is also an important transition of the emotions.

We all know that normally if we want to create a really interesting piece of work, we conduct a lot of research and then aim to transform that information into something emotionally significant.  In my case, this process was not as easy as I expected since the only information I had available to me was just a beautiful landscape in front of me and a few facts from history. Lack of information seemed to be a drawback, however I realized that it is actually an advantage. Why? The answer to this question is our imagination. When you stand on the exact same place as me you get the opportunity to use your imagination. You don’t see trenches where soldiers trained since they are not there anymore. But if you use your imagination just for a few seconds and visualize how this landscape looked in the past, you may have a chance to see these young soldiers during their daily routine. You may also realize that these, in most cases, young people had their own dreams which were destroyed by the outbreak of the war and forced them to make the hardest sacrifice, the sacrifice of their lives…

So if you are ready to listen to some fascinating history and see breathtaking views, my story is what you are looking for.

Here you can read a little piece of my work:

‘What is the weather today? Is it raining or is it sunny? Imagine that you are one of these young soldiers, you’re holding your rifle, you’re standing with your Pals on the hill, you are excited but you start to think about your unpredictable future, you know that in a few months, your real life as a soldier will start and the object in your hands will be used as a weapon of death. Now you need to dig another trench. It is raining but you cannot stop your work, you are tired and your spade doesn’t want to go deeper but you don’t give up and you continue your work since you know that on the front you won’t have time to have any breaks.



Look of the landscape, nowadays. More than 100 years ago, it was place where soldiers from Leeds Pals engaged in their daily routine. Photo by Ashley.


Now close your eyes and think one more time about these young people. Imagine that during their training session they had to learn how to survive in such harsh conditions. This was not just the test of their physical strength but also the test of their bravery and spirit.’

Written by Eliza


Chapel- Investigation

I didn’t join my colleagues who went to Breary Banks, and instead spent my day looking for information about the Methodist chapel which is a part of one of our stops.

The process of finding information about the chapel was quite complicated, but provided me a lot of fun and gave the opportunity to feel (almost) like a Sherlock Holmes. The first step of my investigation was reading the report from the site which described the most basic facts about the chapel such as location, date when it was built, and also who founded the building. Because of the connections between Leeds Pals and Breary Banks I decided to read a book about Leeds Pals which was written by Laurie Milner. It was obvious for me that at some point I will find something about a chapel. Luckily,  my assumptions were correct and I found a private letter which belonged to one of the soldiers, which described that usually on Christmas mornings were held church parades. This letter helped me to realize that the presence of chapel on the camp site had a significant meaning for the officers, especially for those who stayed at camp during Christmas period.

book Milner

Excerpt from Laurie Milner’s book, “Leeds Pals.”

In the further steps I also checked a diary of Johannes Rienau who was one of the German officers imprisoned at the camp. This source provided me a description of the church ceremony which happened on Christmas Eve in 1917 and was prepared for everyone, no matter if they was Methodist or Christian.


Postcard of the  chapel, located for sale on Ebay.

During my consideration about the sources which might be helpful for me I realised that digital archives of the newspapers might also say something interesting about the chapel.  Unfortunately, this time I didn’t find anything, however I didn’t give up and after a few hours  I found  the information that during the 1940’s Sunday School was held at the chapel for people from the area of Colsterdale. This fact and also the presence of children at the camp may suggest that Sunday School also might have taken a place at the chapel during the existence of the Breary Banks.

I would also like to say that in some ways my action was quite similar to the work of my colleagues who dug at the site. However, instead of the shovel in my hand I had a pen and instead of digging in the field I ‘dug’ the depths of the internet and books.


Chapel, nowadays. Photo  by Steve.

Written by Eliza.