Top title for York archaeologist, Arran Johnson

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York Archaeology’s Arran Johnson has been named Community Archaeologist of the Year in the 2023 Marsh Community Archaeology Awards. Arran is part of the York Archaeology team that runs community projects based at Willow House in Walmgate, York. He leads the on-going excavations taking place at Willow House, which involves many local charities supporting people with mental health and targeting social isolation, as well as those referred by GPs or self-referred. The dig provides a supportive environment in which conversation, community and new skills are developed by people with no previous experience of archaeology.

“I love exploring how all the tools and techniques that we use within field archaeology can be applied to improve people’s lives, with some amazing results,” comments Arran. “There’s an inherent communality with archaeology; it is a team effort that can encompass beginners through to experienced specialists, with all making a meaningful contribution to the knowledge. It is great for mindfulness, and even when working outside in all weather conditions, can be very grounding – you can almost reach an archaeological Zen when you are concentrating on one particular area of exploration.”

The news that Arran had won the award was broken during an awards ceremony that had to be moved online due to transport strikes. “The work that Arran and the team are doing here on our Archaeology on Prescription programme is incredible, and something we are planning to roll out to other areas in the coming months. His passion and enthusiasm helps encourage others to join in and have a go, creating a wonderfully supportive environment in which participants relax and enjoy learning about their local history,” comments York Archaeology’s chief executive, David Jennings. “We’re incredibly proud of him, and look forward to seeing how this groundbreaking programme continues to grow and develop with Arran leading the on-site team.” Arran also leads York Archaeology’s York-based training programmes, which give archaeology novices and students much-needed fieldwork experience working on digs around the city, from single sessions to week-long workshops and courses. For more information on York Archaeology’s community work, please visit

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