I started working as a commercial archaeologist in 2004, and for the last nine years I have been based in Scotland. I’ve worked on a wide range of commercial, research led and community based archaeology projects, as well as time spent at the Highland Council, providing advice and guidance for heritage planning issues. I now works for Archaeology Scotland, as Adopt-a-Monument Project Officer and work with community archaeology groups throughout Scotland. Follow me on Twitter @carajones82 and follow Adopt-a-Monument @adoptamonument !

Adopt-a-Monument at Canal College

Like last year, my 2014 Day of Archaeology was meant to be spent out and about, on location, working at the coal face (err) etc. I had planned to look at some archival material for a new outreach project I am developing as part of Archaeology Scotland’s Adopt-a-Monument Scheme, but instead I am office bound tying up loose ends before I go on annual leave.

I have decided that this year’s Day of Archaeology post will be on Canal College – a project I am working on today, but which has also seen the Adopt-a-Monument team out on fieldwork earlier this week. Canal College has been created by the Scottish Waterways Trust to help tackle youth unemployment in Falkirk and Edinburgh. In their own words;

“Through the pioneering initiative, young people between 16 and 25 years of age, who have not been able to secure a job or place in further education or training, have the opportunity to gain heritage and environment skills through a wide range of practical projects outdoors on the Forth & Clyde and Union canals”

Canal College Press Release October 2013

Adopt-a-Monument at Canal College

Lunch time at Canal College

Adopt-a-Monument has guided the vegetation clearance and excavation of the Falkirk Lock Flight which was in-filled in the first half of the 20th Century (function now replaced by the Falkirk Wheel). The Lock Flights are designated as Scheduled Monument but as of yet, the Lock Flight is relatively unknown to the outside world, and are currently obscured by small woodland and dense vegetation. The work of Canal College hopes to change that. Our time with participants has allowed them to get actively involved in all aspects of an archaeology project – from photography to context sheet writing, from excavation to plane table survey, from elevation drawing to (the far less glamorous but someone has to do it) backfilling.

Why have I decided to talk about Canal College? Well this project has really invigorated me this week (the week before my much needed summer holiday!). It is truly amazing to work alongside individuals who are not only working hard to develop new opportunities for themselves, but who are taking their first steps into heritage and archaeology. Working on a project like this can perhaps remind us in the (in amongst the emailing, phonecalls, meetings – see last year’s post) why we as archaeologists do outreach and engagement.

On a much more selfish note, Canal College gave me the opportunity to do some actual digging this week…for two whole days! I have not had the chance to do much excavation in the last couple of years, and as an ex-commercial archaeologist – I miss it!

You can see more photos and keep up to date on our progress on the project by looking at our Archaeology Scotland Facebook page.

Cara Jones – A rare but busy day in the Archaeology Scotland office

Me and my desk - we actually rarely interact

I work for Archaeology Scotland’s Adopt-a-Monument Scheme, a five year initiative which supports and facilitates local community archaeology groups who wish to conserve and promote their local heritage. We work throughout Scotland – from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway and aim to work with 55 groups over the five-year scheme. In addition to our more traditional projects, we are also funded to do outreach projects – taking archaeology to non-traditional heritage audiences. I would call myself a ‘community archaeologist’ – a job title which can be open to interpretation and can encompass many different activities and tasks.

My Day of Archaeology is a little less active than last year’s post, and lot less active than the day I originally had scheduled. I had planned to travel over to the West Coast, visit one AaM group near Oban to give advice about how to start reporting on their results (from formal dissemination through reporting and archival submission, to wider dissemination through a Wikipedia page) and then go on to another group to help them with an open day they have planned for this weekend.

Instead, I have a rare but busy day in the office which usually starts by checking emails. This is actually only my second day back after a two week holiday and yesterday my email box was bursting with around 140 emails. Ok some of those were things like Google Alerts, blog posts etc, which can be quickly scanned and then filed away, but many of the emails were from my groups, colleagues, other heritage professionals, many of which contained requests for help, advice, project updates and questions about upcoming fieldwork, workshops or new projects. I am still getting through the backlog…

After email checks, I usually start to go through the dreaded ‘to do’ list, which usually seems to get longer not shorter. Today’s tasks include edits to one of my group’s interpretation leaflets (which, in addition to paper copies, will be available digitally on their website); source an image and gain permission for it to be reproduced on a groups interpretation panel; edit the text for an interpretation panel; check that the welfare facilities are in place for fieldwork starting in two weeks’ time; ring one landowner to arrange a site meeting; ring another landowner about submitting required paperwork; commission elevations for an interpretation panel to accompany a planning application; arrange space (with a computer suite) for an upcoming digital recording workshop; progress a Listed Building Consent application; arrange a facilitator for an upcoming interpretation workshop; have a meeting with a colleague about an education resource we are co-producing….and if I have time, start to review a copy of a WW2 diary for one of our outreach projects (this might be my ‘treat’ task at the end of the day!)

Today must seem like a very dull day to anyone reading this post, but this is the reality of a full time job within community archaeology. In order to go out and do the fun stuff, we have to work hard to make sure everything is in place. Our groups have the passion and belief and put in so many hours to make the project successful, but not all of them have the skills to make it happen, which is where we help!

Adopt-a-Monument

Hello, my name is Cara Jones and work for Archaeology Scotland, as the Adopt-a-Monument Project Officer. Adopt-a-Monument is a five year scheme which supports and facilitates local archaeology groups who wish to conserve and promote their local heritage. The scheme is community led and we work through-out Scotland – from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway. In addition to our more traditional projects, we are also funded to do outreach projects – taking archaeology to non-traditional heritage audiences.

My Day of Archaeology post is about one of our Adopt-a-Monument outreach projects – The Claypits. In 2011, Adopt-a-Monument was contacted by the Friends of Possil Park to see if we could help with their greenspace improvement initiative for an area of apparent waste land in central Glasgow. Flanked by the Forth Clyde canal, the area has a industrial past, linked to the development of Glasgow in the 18th and 19th century. On first impression, the Claypits does look like an un-inviting, littered and burnt out car dump kind of place – the type of place you avoid and definitely not a space where you would enjoy and appreciate. However, once you start to work there, get to know the local people and start researching the past and present use of the site, Claypits transforms into a valuable greenspace within urbanised landscape. I enjoy many things about this project, but one great aspect is that isn’t just about archaeology – we are working in collaboration with ecologists (it’s a great newt and frog site!), artists, a lovely local councillor, fishermen (Get Hooked on Fishing – a great youth engagement project), canoeists, mountain bikers, the local allotment association, Scottish Canals and the Waterways Trust. I’m sure I’ve missed someone out, but it is a great example of successful partnership working.

Team meeting before the event starts

But I digress! My Day of Archaeology was the ‘Bats, Beasties and Buried Treasure’ event, held at the Claypits on the 30th June 2012. Aimed at local people (and in particular local families) the open day encourages the use and enjoyment of their local greenspace. We ran several activities which included the dig box and ancient crafts, a treasure hunt and storytelling – all linked to the archaeology and local history of the area.

(The Dig box!)

Situated at ‘Base Camp’, the dig box contained replica finds (cattle bone, shell, beads, burnt pot, bone comb etc) which (after discovery) we encourage each child to think like an archaeologist – ‘what do these finds tell us about this location?’, ‘What would we find if we excavated your front room’ – introducing the concept of material culture within a context they understand. Next to the dig box we also had grinding activities (both a replica saddle quern and rotary quern) where children could grind grain into flour, which they could then take away with them. We also had a ‘make your own Neolithic pot’ areas, where children can make a small pinch pot and try and copy groove ware decorations.

Neolithic pot making!

We also organised a treasure hunt – developed by Kate (our placement from Newcastle University) who buried objects which relate to the past use of the site (some old brick from the iron foundry, an old milk bottle from quarry). While guiding them through the site, Kate encouraged children to find the object and then try and think about why the object was there and how it relates to the past use of the landscape. Our storytelling activity did the same thing – Erin (our crack storyteller) developed stories around the local history of the site and surrounding area. Her stories ranged from the time local football club Partick Thistle beat Celtic 4:1 in 1971, to a story about a young girl who disguised herself as a man to work in the quarry on the site at the time of the building of the canal. Storytelling is for us, a new way of disseminating the archaeological and historical background of the site and something we hope to develop further as Adopt-a-Monument goes on.

Erin and her storytelling hour!

Of the 100 to 130 visitors to the site on the day, 59 children took part in our activities, which, taking into account we didn’t have canoes or newts to attract children is not bad going!

Team Archaeology Scotland!