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Blue Willow Heritage Welcomes Ailsa Bailey

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

Welcome to the Team, Ailsa!


Ailsa is an early careers heritage consultant has experience working on numerous exciting projects, ranging from historic buildings to field archaeology.

Having graduated from the University of Exeter with a first-class degree in Ancient History and Archaeology, she was awarded the Bertie Black Prize for the most outstanding academic performance of her year group. Here, she particularly enjoyed modules on osteoarchaeology and zooarchaeology, alongside her excavation focusing on bronze age Dorset.


Ailsa has recently moved to the University of York to complete the renowned master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Management. Here, she has been working on specialist skills including GIS spatial analysis, landscape survey & geophysics, historic buildings, and management plans for assets within the built environment. Part of this enriching experience has included attending the Heritage Planning Studio - known to many as ‘Planning Club’. This has involved looking at live planning applications with the York Civic Trust - an amazing opportunity to gain first-hand experience reviewing casework in the planning world. The group has explored the ideal approaches to take in order to conserve our historic environment whilst allowing flexibility and adaptive reuse where possible to allow sustainable futures for our historic buildings.


During her years as a student, Ailsa has taken part in many exciting excavations, ranging from medieval York to Roman Italy. Projects have included the excavation and recording of human remains - something which was the subject of her undergraduate dissertation. Other work has included mosaic floors as part of a multi-lingual excavation at the site of Urbisaglia in Italy. One of her most exciting experiences has included an excavation at Vindolanda on their cavalry barracks - here, Ailsa was tasked with writing an excavation strategy and post-excavation report as part of her undergraduate degree which obtained first-class marks. During these projects, she has had the incredible privilege of seeing some fascinating artefacts come out of the ground first-hand, including roman coins and ceramics with potters stamps. She even had the opportunity to practice approaches to the cataloguing, conservation and reconstruction of such finds with the renowned Apolline Project which is based in Pompeii.

Team of archaeologists excavating at Roman site of Vindolanda

Inspired by her love of archaeology and historic buildings, Ailsa spends her spare time creative writing including works on historical fiction. She is also eager to improve her manual photography skills which she is practicing on her many hikes in the North York Moors National Park. With a focus on the national park, she is currently researching historic barns as part of her master’s dissertation project.


The Best Part of My Job...

I love how my job allows me to explore the heritage which our country has to offer. The built environment is full of so many important historic assets which are a privilege to research and record. Equally, our below-ground heritage is just as important and surrounds us everywhere we go. It is a pleasure being able to uncover more of this hidden past and being able to share it with others.
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