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Archaeologists working on the legacy of industrialization.

LIPCAP Team – why we do what we do!

(Investigating C19 – C20 everyday life: creating community connections through standing buildings and garden finds)

A previous post outlines our community and public ‘DIY’ house and garden surveys. This post briefly discusses why the project has been developed, and what we hope will be some of the benefits. More information about LIPCAP (Living in the Past Community Archaeology Project) can be found via these links:

Websitewww.livinginthepast.org.uk

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/UrbArc20

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/

Flickrhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/living-in-the-past/sets/

YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcy3KUXbjyFdaCodnHRy6lQ

Kirst (Project Director)

teaching_ox_uni

I started to develop what has become LIPCAP a few years ago, when confined to the house by illness and consequently prevented from pursuing my usual archaeological research and fieldwork. Unable to contemplate not ‘doing’ archaeology for any length of time, my immediate surroundings – a house built in the late 1920s – early 30s – inevitably drew my attention. I began to think about how those without archaeological knowledge or experience might be enabled to recognise the numerous traces of past domestic life just waiting to be discovered – and to record and share this information, potentially making a valuable contribution to studies of histories of the home.

Although specialising in the Roman to early medieval transition (c. AD 350-600), I’d been interested in early 20th century housing and domestic material culture for some time; my research and fieldwork into early historic (for my studies, 1st century BC – AD 7th century) households often inspired me to investigate late historic contexts to ask comparable questions. More usually associated in the public imagination with the excavation of ancient remains, the role of archaeology is to investigate the material traces human behaviour in the past – whether prehistoric or historic. And similar techniques can be applied to standing buildings or buried sites to examine, record, and interpret relationships in time and place between people and the material world. Historical Archaeologists commonly analyse archaeological evidence in conjunction with other historical sources, such as documents, in order to understanding of past life in more depth. When studying earlier periods, I often consulted texts in an attempt to explore the interaction of material culture and beliefs; in this way, I was able to investigate social and cultural identity – particularly ethnicity, ‘tribal’ identity, and ‘national’ identity. By adapting approaches developed within sociology, anthropology, and psychology, archaeologists may begin to consider how material evidence both creates and reproduces ideologies, such as those fundamental to religious, social, and political organisation.

My tentative archaeological investigations into the archaeology of early 20th century domestic life (some of which I have shared on a blog elsewhere) made me aware of several issues. Firstly, that many old standing buildings – not ‘listed’ as being of historic worth, due to their commonplace survival – are likely to retain traces of everyday life in the past; the extent to which such traces do survive – even within substantially altered (‘gutted’) houses – may surprise some. Secondly, that DIY is probably eroding and erasing those traces at an unprecedented pace; conversely, renovation and modernisation provide excellent opportunities to explore these remains. And thirdly, that archaeological analysis may reveal information that will enhance interpretations of the domestic historic environment.

The most exciting aspect of these realisations was that such traces are accessible to many, with no need for destructive and expensive explorations: by adopting basic archaeological methods, anyone living in an old house might begin to explore the material histories of their homes – and contribute towards the historical record in the process. Being an industrial centre, hundreds (probably thousands) of small terraced houses, built mostly in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods for workers of local mills and factories, form line upon line of Derby streets (LIPCAP’s base); most are still lived in today. These houses are an untapped historical resource – not least for the children who occupy them, who may ‘get more out of’ history taught at school through practical investigations or their surroundings. But also, outside formal education, such houses provide opportunities for inhabitant to ‘make’ history through their own explorations, and find out about how previous generations of their own families (who perhaps occupied similar houses) may have lived.

In themselves, the findings made at individual houses might seem to be so fragmentary and divorced from wider society and culture that they are of little use or meaning. However, when studied with and compared to findings from other, similar, houses, analysis has greater potential to yield valuable information (perhaps revealing significant patterns), particularly if examined alongside other historical sources (such as documents and maps, photos and oral history), and in combination with the findings of individual and group Local History and Family History research.

My main objective for the project is to provide easy (and hopefully fun) opportunities for engagement with Derby’s rich historic environment; I intend to (and hope others will also) assess the findings from family homes in relationship to wider social and cultural networks. Each household was (and is) an integral component of a neighbourhood, several of which together made the town, which with other towns and villages comprised the region, which in turn combined with other regions to make up the country as a whole. The decisions and movements of the powerful few that controlled and managed the affairs of the nation (as well as those leading more local authorities), through this network of local communities, effected – and often were affected by – the individuals and families inhabiting each household. Therefore, in coming together through the project to pioneer new ways of exploring very specific and localised histories, our investigations may contribute towards understanding the wider and varied pasts of those outside and beyond the individual home, as well as providing a picture of life in the past in our own home.

A couple of members of the project team will now say a few words for the DoA about the project, and why archaeology appeals to them:

Debra (Secretary and Family History Co-ordinator)

debra

I have always been interested and fascinated in archaeology and when asked to become part of the project, I was both grateful and excited. As a child, I was always fascinated in ‘how we used to live’. What also excites me about the project is the possibility of sharing oral and family histories (adopting an ‘archaeological ethnographic’ approach), which enables a wider range of historical resources to be expanded to give meaningful interpretations and accounts to local communities.

Sarah (Youth Rep.)

Sarah K

It is very hard for me to explain why I love archaeology, I just enjoy it extremely. One of the things that interests me about archaeology is finding out how people in the past survived in the conditions they lived in, I also enjoy discovering new and exciting artefacts when excavating. I think that it is fascinating to discover how our ancestors used to live.

I am looking forward to this project because I would like to experience what it is like to do fascinating archaeological fieldwork and get some idea of what it is like to be an archaeologist. I really want to be involved with this project because history is my passion and I want to do as much history related things as possible.


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Living in the Past Community Archaeology Project: DIY House and Garden Archaeology

Living in the Past Community Archaeology Project (LIPCAP) is developing ways to enable public participation in exploring the historical environment amongst which many live and work today. We are based in Derby – a town (now city) with a long history, which particularly came to prominence, substantially growing in size, during (and especially after) the 18th century, as an important centre of industrialisation.

LIPCAP_Fig_1_Silk Mill

Derby Silk Mill (much rebuilt after early 20th century fire): one of the earliest factories in the world – part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site

Though much of the older housing once occupied by industrial workers has since been demolished, most of the late 19th and early 20th century small terraced houses built for the increasing workforce – many of whom were employed in the numerous local mills and factories – remain, and continue to provide homes for modern families.

LIPCAP_Fig_2_Rykneld_Mill

Rykneld Mill behind housing within West End study area

LIPCAP_Fig_3_Terraced_Street

Late 19th – early 20th century terraced housing within LIPCAP study area

LIPCAP aims, in partnership with local communities, to discover more about the daily lives of ‘ordinary’ people in the past by investigating the history of these houses (in particular), examining the traces of earlier domestic activities through standing building surveys and surveys of artefacts found in the associated gardens and yards. We provide guidance for investigating the surfaces of gardens and houses: this is to broaden access through ‘DIY’ surveys and recording, which are designed to be of low or no cost, and to prevent damage to the historical environment; at present, there are no plans for excavations, but may consider this in the future.

LIPCAP_Fig_4_Study_Areas

Project study Areas

In order to make fieldwork manageable, to make best use of resources, due to the existing evidence, and to enable comparisons, the project incorporates four study areas: Allestree Village, Little Chester, West End, and Friar Gate area; due to the opportunity to carry out detailed surveys, one property provides an interesting case study.

LIPCAP_Fig_5_eC2O_Outdoor_Toilets

The remains of early toilets investigated at one property outside Derby

We hope that this will provide opportunities for participation by those that neither inhabit  old housing, nor live in houses built upon the plots of demolished earlier housing, by investigating the remains of Victorian and Edwardian rubbish ‘dumps’ in and around the town.

LIPCAP_Fig_6_Victorian_Tip

Spread of surface finds: probable Victorian and early 20th century rubbish tip on the outskirts of Derby that LIPCAP is applying to investigate

However, by taking opportunities to investigate house interiors, we also record other remains that provide clues for home life in the past: close investigation often reveals (even in houses that have been much modernised) remains for earlier décor, utilities, and use of household space.

LIPCAP_Fig_7_lC19_eC20_Woodwork_Paint

Chips to later white paint revealing remains of early finishes within LIPCAP case study: late 19th – early 20th century ‘grained’ varnish beneath dark early – mid 20th century paint, within project case study, No. 8

LIPCAP_Fig_8_Wall Paint

Wall paint (probable early 20th century) within bedroom at No. 8 (below)

One task that has held particular interest for the project (and others) is recording of graffiti – through which we have gained insights into childhood attitudes and behaviour.

LIPCAP_Fig_9_'C19_eC20_Graffiti

Graffiti discovered during a survey of ‘No. 8’

We look at the material evidence alongside documentary records (such as census returns and trade directories), photos and maps, and oral histories and memoirs, and in this way are beginning to build up a more complete picture of everyday life at this point in time (c. 1880 – 1940) when the modern world comes into being.

Name

Relation

Condition/
Yrs married

Sex

Age

Birth Year

Occupation

Where Born

ELEY, Thomas

Head

Married

M

45

1866

Smith Striker Railway

Derby Derbyshire

ELEY, Maria Jane

Wife

Married
15 years

F

43

1868

Derby Derbyshire

RIPPIN, William

Stepson

Single

M

19

1892

Cotton Winder

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Harry

Son

Single

M

19

1892

Fruiterer’s Salesman

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Selina

Daughter

Single

F

18

1893

Cotton Winder

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Lily

Daughter

F

14

1897

Tent Maker Canvass

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Jane

Daughter

F

12

1899

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Eva

Daughter

F

9

1902

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Mabel

Daughter

F

7

1904

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Doris

Daughter

F

1

1910

Derbyshire Derby

No. 8 Census evidence for 1911

We will soon make guidance publicly available, to support local communities in carrying out garden surveys; over the next few days, we will test the step-by-step instructions for public participation that have been recently devised, which we will describe in a following post.

LIPCAP_Fig_10_Test_Garden_Finds

Finds discovered during a test survey of a garden outside Derby

LIPCAP_Fig_11_Test_Garden

Test Garden: location of above finds

The pilot stage of the project – testing new ways of integrating public and professional research and fieldwork – will run until 2015. LIPCAP is currently run by volunteers, and funded by donations; at present, our project team is small, and led by local historical archaeologist Dr Kirsten Jarrett. We would welcome further volunteers who would like to get involved in running the project and more sustained and detailed research and fieldwork – particularly those experienced in archaeology or local history, but this is not essential. A forthcoming post will hear from other members of the project team.

LIPCAP_Fig_12_No 8

Project case study, No. 8

If you would like to know more about the project, see our website; follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and see our Flickr and YouTube channels; we are also in the process of developing a History Pin channel. The Journal of Victorian Culture Online has also published a short article on the project.

LIPCAP_Fig_13_3D_No 8_Progress

No. 8 3D reconstruction in progress: to be ‘redecorated’ and furnished in late Victorian, Edwardian, and 1920s – 30s style

Project Social Media

Website: www.livinginthepast.org.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UrbArc20

Twitter: https://twitter.com/

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/living-in-the-past/sets/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcy3KUXbjyFdaCodnHRy6lQ

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Average Day in the Office – Mary Jachetti

URS Burlington, New Jersey, USA  (Posted by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webmaster)

Today, I am picking a flotation sample that came from the Dyottville Glass Works site (36PH037), a glass factory site that was run under several different owners from 1771-1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA).  The most notable of the glass works owners was the late Dr. Dyott, an apothecary, who ran a Utopian-like society for his glass workers. The flotation sample, like many other samples from the site, is almost completely glass. An almost straight sample of glass is unusual in float, with seeds and rocks being the usual. The glass ranges from small, flat or slightly curved fragments of window or vessel glass or manufacturing debris (various sized and shaped glass fragments created by the manufacturing of glass vessels), to semi complete vessels and whimsy fragments such as Jacob’s ladders and flip flops.

On an average day for a lab technician, any of the following could occur: checking- in incoming artifacts, washing and bagging; mending, marking, or gluing a large feature or a completed project; floating soil samples or picking float; researching a specific artifact or patent; cataloging; or helping prepare a display for a public outreach event or private client showing.  Occasionally, we rotate out into the field or help with work overloads in different departments. I have assisted with some minor GIS work as well as historical research.  The day does not always begin or end at the office or in front of the computer. Some days, lunch is spent learning about pottery types or special artifacts in a seminar session or the afternoon is spent educating visitors, either at the office or at a public outreach event. The job changes and evolves. It may not be as glamorous and glitzy as my roommates and fiancé think that the day of an archeologist should be, but I love my job and I’m glad that I’m always doing something different and learning something new.

By: Mary Jachetti, Lab Technician

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Heather Stoddart (RCAHMS) – Midlothian

Heather Stoddart, RCAHMS

Heather Stoddart, RCAHMS

I am Heather Stoddart, draughtsperson, illustrator and surveyor in the Architecture and Industry Section  at RCAHMS.

Midlothian ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Midlothian ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

My chosen building is the impressive Lady Victoria Colliery at Newtongrange, which we recorded for Industrial Survey.

This was one of the largest surviving Victorian collieries in Midlothian and Europe that was saved from demolition after its closure in 1981 and is now the site of the Scottish Mining Museum. The tall red-brick buildings and the arcading create an impressive structure that housed one of Scotland’s most important industrial processes.

We were asked to produce survey drawings of the ground plan of the site, pithead tub-circuit plan and the North, South, West and East elevations which was an extensive amount of survey work but shows the layout of the buildings to scale and generated a good comprehensive record of the complex.

Survey drawing of the ground plan of Lady Victoria Colliery, drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

Survey drawing of the ground plan of Lady Victoria Colliery, drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

Drawing any Industrial site can be challenging as you are recording a process and machinery but the scale of this site made it even more so. Often a process links one level to another like hoppers, conveyor belts, winding gear and elevators which is important to record and was the case at this site too.

East elevation of Lady Victoria Colliery. Drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

East elevation of Lady Victoria Colliery. Drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

The initial survey was started using a EDM/Total Station (a distance laser theodolite) which generated an accurate skeleton layout of the buildings from which we were able to generate the scaled plans and subsequently the elevations. We also used the EDM to assist with the recording of the Headgear which is the steel structure located above the mine shaft and can be seen from quite a distance due to its elevated position.

I also created finished digital images of the North and West elevations for ‘Scottish Collieries’, a RCAHMS  publication which was published in 2006.

The North elevation image was nominated as Scotland’s favourite archive image by public vote in 2008 for RCAHMS Treasured Places.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

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Martin Conlon (RCAHMS) – Glasgow

Glasgow. ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Glasgow. ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

I’m Martin Conlon, Education Trainee at RCAHMS. The archaeological site that I’ve chosen to write about is that of the Govan Iron Works in Glasgow. The site is one of many surveyed as a result of the construction of the extension to the M74.  The extension passed over a dense locality of hidden industrial gems, each site a memory of our relatively recent past. With the large- scale of the motorway development, it was important that archaeologists took advantage of the opportunities to survey and record key areas prior to them being potentially lost. It was also crucial that no archaeological remains were damaged or removed without proper records being made.

Digital image of watercolour dating from 1899, inscribed "Dixon's Ironworks". Copyright RCAHMS (DP009088)

Digital image of watercolour dating from 1899, inscribed “Dixon’s Ironworks”. Copyright RCAHMS (DP009088)

 

 

 

 

 

The excavations by HAPCA (a joint venture between Headland Archaeology Ltd and Pro-Construct Archaeology) uncovered the foundations of the old premises of Caledonian Pottery in Rutherglen, established around 1800 and closing in the mid 1870s, including remains of kilns (ovens used to dry and harden pottery). Also unearthed were signs of the massive urban development that took place in the area several hundred years ago, with the foundations of early tenements found just off Pollokshaws Road, amongst a dense network of remains of 19th century tenements, pubs, churches and shops.

Located on Cathcart Road, the Iron Works was the first of its scale to spring up in Glasgow, founded in 1837 by William Dixon.The Iron Works was known as ‘Dixon’s Blazes’ for the propensity of the blast furnaces to illuminate Glasgow’s smoggy industrial skyline. Drawn by William Simpson in the late 1890s, the illustration above shows the Iron Works from the South, with a row of single-storey houses in front known as ‘Collier’s Raw’. The last working blast furnace ceased operation in 1958 and the site has since been re-developed.

Martin looking through the collection. Copyright RCAHMS

Martin looking through the collection. Copyright RCAHMS

Around 15 boxes of photographs, drawings and notes of the M74 project have now reached RCAHMS where they have been catalogued and housed as part of our collections. Using other material held at RCAHMS, like the RAF National Survey (Air Photographs 1944-1950) image below, the site’s history can be very clearly understood. The M74 collection is an important reminder of the importance of post-medieval archaeology and the idea that archaeological investigation is not strictly confined to our ancient history.

 

RAF National Survey (Air Photographs), 1944-1950 Scanned Image of RAF oblique aerial view showing part of the Hutchestown district with the Govan Ironworks (Dixon's Blazes) Copyright RCAHMS (SC1024381)

RAF National Survey (Air Photographs), 1944-1950 Scanned Image of RAF oblique aerial view showing part of the Hutchestown district with the Govan Ironworks (Dixon’s Blazes) Copyright RCAHMS (SC1024381)

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

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Inspiring a community in the heart of a World Heritage Site: Community Archaeology in the Ironbridge Gorge

Hi, I’m Sam, and I’m the Council of British Archaeology (CBA) funded Community Archaeology Training Placement based at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in Shropshire. I started my training post back in April this year and have so far been involved in a variety of events and activities that will hopefully provide me with the skills to work in community archaeology when my placement finishes in 2014.

My average day usually always starts the same way, checking emails and messages, and responding to any enquiries that may have come in from volunteers, local societies, schools, or members of the community with an interest in archaeology. For example, on Saturday we’re running a taster session for the Young Archaeologists Club as part of the Festival of Archaeology, so this morning there were a handful of emails regarding that.

Guiding a World War themed walk back in June

Guiding a World War themed walk back in June

Once emails etc have been checked, my day can vary quite considerably, and I suppose that’s the beauty of working in community archaeology.  The variety of my work is essentially because my role here at Ironbridge is to engage the local community with the archaeology in the area. Sometimes this is a simple task, especially when people already have an interest in the subject, but at other times the target audience may not be able to jump in a trench and excavation to their hearts content, but this does not mean that they don’t want to be involved. Therefore we look to involve everyone by leading guided walks, running public lecture series and workshops, visiting local schools and holding regular volunteer sessions for people to become involved in projects such as finds recording, archiving, research and even some excavation.

Volunteers working on a finds recording project

Volunteers working on a finds recording project

So what does my day entail today? Emails have been checked, and so my attention can now turn to an upcoming volunteer project looking into the site of a china works based in the village of Madeley, just down the road from the museums offices. This will involve a small scale excavation planned for September, so I’m busy putting together the project design and most importantly making sure that we’ll have the right equipment and man power for the job. Then this afternoon, I’m going to be allowed out of the office and into the sunshine, to lead a guided walk around the sites associated with the ceramic industry in Jackfield and Coalport.

At times, any job in archaeology can seem a little repetitive and mundane, but being able to work with people who have a genuine interest and love for the archaeology and heritage of this area does brighten up even the dullest of days. I am forever learning new things and finding new paths to explore, and I can safely say that I enjoy my job.

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Alex Hale (RCAHMS) – West Dunbartonshire

Alex Hale, RCAHMS

Alex Hale, RCAHMS

 

Six places, in six kilometres, for six million people

 

‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’.

‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’.

Imagine time travelling along the River Clyde from Erskine Bridge to Dumbarton Rock, from the 19th century to prehistory and back again. The sights, sounds and smells would be mind-blowing. Without Dr Who’s tardis or Captain James T Kirk’s Starship Enterprise we are a bit stuck in today. So what is it about time travel that makes us want to do it?

Places from the past give us glimpses that we can enjoy, ignore, smell, touch and feel. But more than that, we can use places from the past to discover where we came from, make up stories about where we are going and look at the lives of people who have gone through similar and different experiences as us.

Here are six places along the River Clyde, within six kilometres of each other and right on the doorsteps of six million people (roughly the population of Glasgow). From East to West along the River Clyde in West Dunbartonshire:

  1. Bowling Basin at the West end of the Forth and Clyde Canal -DP011643 (also see the Scottish Canals website)
  2. Bowling HarbourSC124627 (harbour in 1927) and DP011642 (now in 2005). A vital harbour and ship-building yard, at the sea-canal interface.
  3. Dunglass Castle and memorial to Henry Bell, who built the first ever steam-driven vessel, the Comet – DP014231. The memorial was erected by the Lord provost of Glasgow who had been on the Comet’s maiden voyage and he wanted to commemorate Bell’s amazing achievement.
  4. The Lang Dyke- the massive wall that runs down the middle of the Clyde from Bowling to Dumbarton. Built in the 1770’s it allowed bigger vessels to make the journey upstream to Glasgow, rather than having to stop at Port Glasgow. For a good picture see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8899981@N05/8523950813/ and more information see: http://www.clydewaterfrontheritage.com/langdyke.aspx
  5. Dumbuck crannog- a 2000 year old wooden building, with wooden dock and log-boat!-DP046361
  6. Dumbarton Rock and Castle- SC602891. Not only a 16th century garrison castle, but the at the highest point on the rock were found the remains of the Early Medieval fortifications of the power centre of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. (see also http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=PL_100)
    Dumbarton Castle, Oblique aerial view from SW. © RCAHMS

    Dumbarton Castle, Oblique aerial view from SW. Copyright RCAHMS (SC602891)

    This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.


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Archaeology on the web

My name is Tom Goskar, and I am Wessex Archaeology‘s web manager. I am also one one of the team behind the Day of Archaeology, an international online event which has taken months in the planning.

Like the rest of the Day of Archaeology team, my day has been an incredibly busy one. Essentially it began in earnest yesterday evening (if that’s not cheating) putting the final touches to the DoA website, through to seeing the first post from the Guardian’s Maev Kennedy go online.

After some sleep, I have been helping to keep the website well-oiled and ticking along. I have been doing this whilst publishing and planning web content for Wessex Archeology, who have helped to support the Day of Archaeology by providing some of my time during the day to help run it. Today, I have published some updates about a large excavation that is happening in the heart of Dorchester, the Roman town of Durnovaria. I’ve also been following back people who have recently started following Wessex on Twitter, planning some future web content for an industrial site that we are working on in the north of England, and looking at ideas for publishing some of our content as e-books (in EPUB format) and how we might fit that into our existing design workflows. There are some promising tools out there, and it’s exciting to think of the possibilities of publishing content that will look good on devices from smartphones to Kindles, iPads, etc. Especially when you have a back-catalogue of titles which are now out of print. We could give some publications a new lease of life. Specialist books which when printed are only ever available to a small number of people could have global distribution and benefit many more. Keep your eyes on the Wessex Archaeology website, there’s lots of exciting things planned for the future.

Today I have also just finished an article for a forthcoming publication based upon a talk I gave earlier this year as part the Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice in Archaeology (CASPAR) “Archaeologists & the Digital: Towards Strategies of Engagement” workshop in May 2011 at UCL in London. My paper is called Wessex Archaeology and the Web, a simple title, but one that explores how the organisation’s website has grown from a small nine page brochure-style website in 2001 to the  socially connected 4000+ page site that it is today. Major archaeological discoveries, such as the Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowmen amongst others were catalysts to expand and change the way we published information online. We’ve been earlier adopters of many “Web 2.0″ (despite my hating that term) technologies and web services, as well as starting the first archaeology podcast, Archaeocast. Many other heritage organisations have looked to us for trying things out first, so we have been in the spotlight on many occasions. It’s been some journey since I relaunched the website in May 2002, and it still feels like this is just the beginning.

My philosophy has always been that archaeology is all about people; as archaeologists we have a duty to make our work available to as many people as possible, otherwise there is little point in what we do. We run the risk of becoming irrelevant to society if we do not broaden access to the information that we uncover. The web is instrumental to helping us to help people learn about their pasts, and the Day of Archaeology is a fantastic way of showing the sheer diversity of work that goes on inside archaeology, and how exciting and relevant it all is.

It has been wonderful to, throughout the day, read many of the posts as they have been published. It makes me excited to see so much happening in the world (literally – see the map of posts!) of archaeology, and that so many people have been passionate enough about their subject to tell the world about it through the Day of Archaeology website. I do hope that it inspires more archaeologists to shout about their work (we’re often quite shy) and see the benefits of the web, and that it inspires readers of this site to follow up the projects that they see here. Maybe some will be moved to take up archaeology in some way, maybe as a volunteer, joining a local dig, or even thinking about archaeology as a profession.

So, a big thank you to all who have contributed an entry to the Day of Archaeology so far, and to fellow organisers Lorna, Matt, Dan, Jess, Stu, and Andy. And thank you, dear reader, for supporting us by visiting and reading all about a day in the life of what is now 422 archaeologists.

It’s been a fun journey, and fingers crossed, there will be a Day of Archaeology 2012!

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Supporting students in the field

I have a strange job, and one that doesn’t exist at too many other universities. My official title is ‘Project and Fieldwork Officer’ and, along with my partner in crime Anthony in the role of Computing Officer, you could say we act as a sort of half-way-house between the students and the lecturers in the Department of Archaeology at York.

We spend a lot of our time teaching the undergraduate and postgraduate students techniques like survey, geophysics, and computing skills such as GIS, but invariably this doesn’t stop in class. As soon as a student decides to use a fieldwork technique, piece of kit, or computer in their dissertation, this means a lot of one-to-one support and coaching from us. This puts us in a nice position, as we really get to know the students well, in a more relaxed environment. It also means we are rewarded handsomely with wine and chocolate at the end of the year.

With the undergraduates away for the summer it’s quiet in the department, but there’s still plenty to do. The postgrads are still here, desperately trying to finish their dissertations and in need of GIS and other general computer help, but today I had other responsibilities.

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