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Work Experience at Blue Willow Heritage


historic building called the kings manor
The Kings Manor at the University of York which is home to the archaeology department

Blue Willow Heritage is enrolled as a host organisation for the placement module of the renowned 'Cultural Heritage Management' MA programme at the University of York. For the first three months of 2024, we were joined by Megan Dancer, whom we had the pleasure of mentoring through this crucial stage in her early career development. Our team views such opportunities as a chance to give back to our community, and ultimately to increase job prospects for young archaeology students by providing valuable hands-on work experience to enhance their existing skillsets. Read more about Megan's experience on this 11 - week placement below!


 

My 11 weeks with Blue Willow Heritage have flown by and it is sad to see the experience end. I cannot thank the team enough for all of the guidance and support they have given me - in addition to the invaluable experience of learning from their expertise. During this time, I have looked at the world of heritage consultancy from a commercial perspective rather than academia and I was surprised at the differences I found. 


For one, throughout my education from college to masters, I have had the need for academic and reliable sources for anything that I write reinforced. However, working with Blue Willow Heritage has reassured me that this is not always the case as whilst having reliable sources is crucial, they are not required to be as heavily referenced in certain contexts (eg. social media posts) as is done in university assignments.

 

My placement has also reinforced my understanding in the importance of communication between stakeholders. This is something that has been taught throughout my studies but it was another thing to see it in action. I found it really interesting to see how different components within an application work together - in a commercial context – to complete separate tasks, documents, and come together with a finalised project.

 

One of the first activities I was asked to complete was the construction of case study summaries that can later be referred back to. I really enjoyed completing this task as I was able to take a deep dive into the work of the Blue Willow Heritage team, see the documents they had constructed and the outcomes of the applications. This allowed me to gain a better understanding of the work of Blue Willow Heritage and the reasons behind the decisions made by the planning committee.


I was later asked to construct a map regression for a property the team had previously worked with. Map regressions were a task that I was originally confused by, and would struggle to identify the maps that would be beneficial to the regression – this is due to my desire to include every map possible. The first draft of my map regression allowed the team to provide feedback on my work which I found extremely helpful - especially in identifying the areas where I can take new knowledge from as well as the things that went well. From this task, the team helped me to identify which maps work well, how to pick out the features of a changing map in addition to how to discuss these features in such a manner that is simple to understand to the reader. This was very helpful as I found that I was forgetting about the reader and was writing about the attributes in a way that I would understand but others may not. 




As part of my placement, I was required to complete a project in the form of a blog post. This was an activity I really enjoyed as it provided me a chance to research and write about an area that I am interested in, which I would not ordinarily do. I am extremely grateful to the team for publishing my blog post and this task has encouraged me to look into such areas of interest in the future. 


One of the biggest lessons that I will take away from my time with Blue Willow Heritage is that you may not always be able to find the information you are looking for. Whilst this may be frustrating, it is okay – the information will be out there somewhere and sometimes in the most obscure places. I was initially surprised to find out how beneficial social media can be in locating historic images. Thinking back on this, it does make sense and it is nice to think that the community is more directly involved with the application process by sharing the history of their area.

 

Overall, my time with the Blue Willow Heritage team has been fantastic and I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. 


 

Interested in learning more about early careers in heritage and archaeology? Read more in our previous blog post about Careers in Heritage! You can also find Megan's blog post on Corfe Castle on our website.

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