The Archaeology of Gardens

Ref: C3675797

The course will look at evidence for garden function, design, location and produce through archaeological evidence - pictorial, excavation, botanical and written from the Bronze age to the early modern ages. There is an amazing wealth of evidence to be found in this newly established facet of archaeology, the trick is knowing where and how to look. The tutor has excavated late medieval garden evidence in the UK.

Course aim

The course will examine the Archaeological evidence for Gardens in the past from Prehistory to the Post-medieval periods. Looking at design and function as well as evidence for plants which were grown in the past.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners
  • This course is for improvers
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • All students of gardening or the past or both are welcome, just bring a spirit inquiry and some knowledge of plants, gardening or history.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • List notable ancient garden complexes.
  • Describe formal Roman garden styles.
  • Show how Islamic garden design influenced modern designs.
  • Outline the contents of a typical NW European medieval garden.
  • Demonstrate where Renaissance garden design took it's influences from.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Class discussions and Q&A sessions will allow students to ask questions, offer comments and find out how they are doing.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Farrar, L. Gardens and Gardeners of the Ancient World, Windgather Press, Oxford 2016. Carroll, M. Earthly Paradises, Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology. British Museum Press London 2003.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Visiting featured gardens, museums and collections in the UK and overseas. Finding material to inform students own garden creations based on past designs and planting.

Download full course information sheet

The Archaeology of Gardens

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has started and there are no online enrolment places available.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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