Introduction to Archaeological Illustration

March 2023 somewhere in Ireland


Get an introduction to the theory and technique of completing archaeological illustrations from the comfort of your own home. Using household items as substitutes for real artefacts, learn the basic skills necessary to produce archaeological illustrations of pottery and small finds. Then you'll be ready to illustrate real artefacts, such as from HMS Invincible, when social distancing restrictions are lifted!

Participants will gain an understanding of the difference between a drawing and an archaeological illustration. Using household items as substitutes, participants will learn how to set up an artefact for an archaeological drawing and then how to draw it. Online lectures will be combined with set illustration tasks to provide an interactive and practical online experience. Under expert online guidance, participants will produce an illustration of an item of pottery and a small find made of wood, metal or leather.

By completing this course using household items, participants will get an introduction to the illustration skills that can then be applied to real archaeological artefacts when it is possible to access them. This course was originally organised to be run in-person to train volunteers to illustrate the hundreds of artefacts recently raised from HMS Invincible. When social distancing restrictions are suitably relaxed, a follow up course will be held at the MAST conservation lab in Poole, Dorset where participants of this course can further their skills - on real artefacts!





This course is for anyone interested in this traditional method of recording artefacts that is still relevant today. Divers, beachcombers, and avocational archaeologists will find this course interesting as it will teach them that through the detailed observations required for an archaeological illustration, more information can be gleaned from an artefact that might not be observed during rapid photographic recording techniques. People wishing to include the still-essential line illustrations of artefacts in publications will find this course useful as they will learn how to create these figures themselves. 

NAS members will earn 5 credits per day towards their Certificate or Award.



Timetable (provisional and subject to change)

09:00   introductions – NAS host

09:20   History and archaeology of HMS Invincible – Dan Pascoe

09:50   Why archaeological illustration still matters – Mark Hoyle

10:20   Questions and break

10:30   Theory: Overview of techniques and conventions of pottery – Mark Hoyle

11:00   Questions and break

11:15   Practical: pottery illustration - participants

12:30   Lunch and finishing off illustrations

13:00   Theory: illustrating small finds, metal, wood, stone, rope and leather – Mark Hoyle

14:00   Practical: small finds illustration - participants

15:00   Reviewing illustrations – Mark Hoyle

15:30   Practical: Making changes to illustrations - participants

16:00   Questions, putting it into perspective – Mark Hoyle

16:30   Getting involved in HMS Invincible volunteering and NAS – NAS host

17:00   Day end

The NAS reserves the right to cancel courses or events 4 weeks in advance of a course if insufficient bookings have been received. Please do not book non-refundable travel and accommodation until you have been notified by email that the course is definitely going ahead.

Participants are permitted to cancel and receive a full refund up to four weeks in advance of a course  or event date. They are also able to defer their booking to any other NAS course or event instead of receiving a refund. If participants wish to cancel within the four weeks prior to  the course or event, they will forfeit their booking fee unless there are unless circumstances  which the NAS, in its absolute discretion, considers sufficiently mitigating as to warrant a partial or full refund.  

Applications for a refund within the four weeks prior to  the course or event must be submitted in writing (electronic submission is acceptable) and such evidence as the NAS may reasonably require must be provided to support the application.