Not a Typical Friday: Not a Typical Archaeologist

I have to admit, first off, that I’m not an archaeologist; not qualified as such and never dug in my life… (my experience is in historic building research and analysis; but that’s a different kind of archaeology I suppose!) My job title doesn’t suggest anything either – ‘Project Officer’ – I added the ‘brackets Historic Environment’ bit so people would (sort of) know what I do…

I am currently maternity covering for an osteoarchaeologist who has done a sterling job over the last couple of years organising local history and archaeology projects for the Tamar Valley AONB, getting people involved in looking at and understanding their local landscape.

Friday was not a typical day. Got to work at 8.30 and grabbed a lift with our new manager, Corinna, to Liskeard to a HELM training event on the NPPF (one of my aims of this blog is to get as many abbreviations and acronyms in as possible..!). I’m not really one for planning, policy and all that, but it was actually rather good. When I worked at EH I was constantly up to date with policy; now after 6 months in this job I’ve started to feel a little out of the loop, and it was good to get back on track with the terminology, paragraph numbers, and discussions about uPVC windows. AONB policy only came a up a couple of times but it’s good to be informed about the wider picture.

Back to the office for 2pm. What to do now on a Friday afternoon? Replied to some emails (nothing that exciting) and finished some guidance notes for my hedge surveyors. We are running a big project at the moment searching for significant hedges in the Tamar Valley. Most of our volunteers are involved as they have skills in species identification, and my job is to get them thinking about the history of hedges, and their contribution to the character of the landscape. The history section of the survey sheet has been puzzled over by some, and left blank a few times too! I’ve reassessed it and realised that some of the questions are a bit intense (we don’t have the resources to make every hedge survey ever done in West Devon and East Cornwall available to our volunteers, for example). I could spend hours pouring over old maps and interrogating the HERs, and being amazed by the patterns hedges make in the landscape, but I’m likewise impressed by the skills of the volunteers to identify up to 120 different species of plant in a 30m stretch of hedge!

My colleague (and some say half of the SB/SB double act) Simon came back from a site visit at 4pm; his daughter Jennie has been with us all week on work experience. Lucky her – beats working in a shop! Had a brief chat about what I’m up to this week as he is on Jury Service, and then decided to call it a day and get back home for happy hour in my local (it is Friday after all!).

Jennie took lots of photos of the Tamar Valley and posted them on our Facebook page. Why not take a look?  Where you can also find out more about the things the AONB team do …!

Samantha Barnes

Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Project Officer (Historic Environment)