Emma Tetlow

Senior Archaeological Consultant, Costain

Portrait of Emma Tetlow, Senior Archaeological Consultant for Costain
© Emma Tetlow

I am a Senior Archaeological Consultant for Costain. I specialise in providing archaeological support for major infrastructure projects such as roads, railway, cable routes and wind farms.  The role requires quick thinking and problem solving.  My primary role is designing the archaeological works – where we dig the trenches and the scientific questions we want to answer when we do this!

Using a number of sources, including maps, knowledge of existing archaeological sites and techniques such as aerial photography and drone footage, I work with the local county archaeologists and local councils to develop the strategy.  I often work with the engineers to determine how to avoid the archaeology so we can leave it where it is – leaving archaeology undisturbed is often the best thing to do so it can be preserved for future generations. I also look at how we can make the working environment safer and more efficient. This is tailored to the specialised work undertaken by the field archaeologists.

This dynamic environment and diversity is exactly what makes my job special and why I love it.  I can be working with a mechanical digger, establishing the correct dig depth, or upstairs in the office with the construction team discussing archaeological works on a huge project which may extend across tens of kilometres, then back in a trench with a more senior archaeologist telling me all about the Romans – I don’t know much about the Romans (archaeology is a very diverse subject and you cannot specialise in everything).  Every day is a learning experience!

The main skills are teamwork and problem solving - I love challenges – I have also learned many skills which are required to support but are not specific to archaeology. This includes project management, finance, contracts and managing large teams of people.  This may not sound as exciting as digging an Anglo-Saxon burial, but it can be very interesting! These skills can all easily be transferred into other jobs. Finally, one of the most enjoyable pieces of personal development I have undertaken is my NVQ Level 4 in site and construction supervision – the first rung to becoming a site Foreman!  This will help me understand the demands of both sides of the job and I can work with the team to be even better at delivering archaeological projects.