Activity: Stratigraphy puzzle

Skip to section navigation
This is an activity for you to lead either at a suitable site in the New Forest National Park (e.g. visit to an archaeological dig) or your nearest National Park, or in the classroom using the internet.
Who for?
Key stage  - England and Wales
Level  - Scotland
Who by?
This activity is for you to take, using the resources below. You may also want to arrange a talk by a local archaeologist - either on site or in the classroom.

Activity aims:

The resources for this case study can be adapted to suit the age and curriculum needs of each student.

Students will learn about stratigraphy - the study of layers or rock and earth and how this is used by archaeologists to date finds during excavations.

If a layer (or strata) contains finds which can be dated then that complete layer can be dated. By studying the different layers of material on a site archaeologists can work out the order in which things happened - even if a later feature has cut through earlier ones as, say, a new ditch would.

Students will learn about:

  • how rock, soil, traces of plants and animals settle on the earth's surface in layers
  • how the layer of earth on the bottom is the oldest and the layer on top is the youngest
  • how each layer differs in colour, texture and structure
  • how human materials and artefacts occur together in layers
  • how these layers form a record of past events
  • how archaeologists use this knowledge to date items they find during an excavation

What you will need:

  1. Photos or images of different archaeological layers
  2. Background information on archaeology - print this PDF here:
  3. Stratigraphy quiz - print out the PDF here: stratigraphy_puzzle.pdf
  4. Pens or pencils to fill in the quiz sheet

Curriculum links (England):