Katherine Hamilton: Cataloguing small finds or the various uses of a nuclear bunker

Hi!  My name is Katherine Hamilton and I am the Archives Supervisor for Oxford Archaeology East. For most of this year I have been subcontracted to Cambridgeshire County Council Historic Environment Team (CCC HET) for one day a week to assist them with the re-cataloguing of their on-site archaeological store at Shire Hall in Cambridge.  The store is a nuclear bunker built towards the end of the Cold War, under one of the buildings on Castle Hill.  This is not I should point out as exciting as it sounds, mainly it is rather cold and health and safety states that I should have air breaks every hour as there’s no ventilation down there, for obvious reasons.  There are currently two rooms in which the finds are kept – one for metalwork and the other for non-metal small finds and nice artefacts like complete pots.

The work I do down there is to go through each of the finds boxes stored there and add the contents of them onto a spreadsheet provided by CCC HET, at the same time providing each individual artefact with a unique barcode and recording which shelf the overall box lives on in the store.  Sometimes I can get through a lot of boxes fairly quickly but boxes of coins and particularly beads can take several days to wade through.  (I would happily never see another amber bead if I could help it!)

I really enjoy my time in the bunker each week as it gives me a nice break from dealing with the day to day of my job back in our office in Bar Hill.  It also means I get to see some of the really cool artefacts that have been excavated in Cambridgeshire over the last 50 plus years!

DeepStore – the ultimate destination of Cambridgeshire’s archives

Katherine Hamilton is the Archives Supervisor at Oxford Archaeology’s East office in Cambridge. For more information about Oxford Archaeology and our digital archiving, visit our online library: http://library.thehumanjourney.net/