Studying and Learning

I am late to the party.  This is my first Day of Archaeology post, and it’s the last Day!  I’m Rob and I’ve learned to become comfortable calling myself an archaeologist even though my days on a site can be counted on two hands (and a bit of a foot).  I am perhaps most comfortable calling myself a small finds archaeologist.

Medieval binding strip (HESH AD4D2F) (Courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme)

Medieval binding strip (HESH AD4D2F) (Courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme)

Today I am logging medieval metalwork on the database I have created for my PhD studies at the University of York.  I’m focusing on metal items found around the time of the Norman Conquest and have today found a lot of ‘binding strips’ coming up from in and around the castles thrown up in the decades after 1066.  The strip shown is in fact a relatively rare example in terms of the Portable Antiquities Scheme database; their general absence from the countryside is so intriguing I’ve written about it.

I should explain that I’m a mature student, and that my citing of the PAS database above comes from years of experience amassed with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in the gap between degrees.  I started with the PAS back in 2005 as an intern, and was Finds Liaison Officer for Hampshire in my longest stint.  Since 2014 I have worked as a Project Officer on the Scheme’s PASt Explorers project, on a part-time basis alongside my part-time studies.

Late early-medieval to medieval stirrup-strap mount (SOM-E11166) (image courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme)

Late early-medieval to medieval stirrup-strap mount (SOM-E11166) (image courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme)

Because there is so much overlap between the PhD data (much of which comes from PAS), and enhancing PAS data in my job, the two tasks complement each other perfectly.  The stirrup-strap mount shown here features both in my PhD dataset and in a guide to recording this object type I have written for the PAS website as part of PASt Explorers.

Because I am lucky enough to be doing artefact research regardless of whether it’s a PhD day or a PAS day, every day I’m learning (even if I’m not ‘studying’).  And because my partner’s also an archaeologist, and our children get dragged around interminable “churches with low walls”, there’s rarely a day that isn’t a ‘day of archaeology’.  Which all suits me very well – my colleagues, those in the PAS and those I’ve met having returned to studying, are all extremely supportive, fun and insightful.  In their company I feel comfortable – enough to call myself a ‘small finds archaeologist’, at least.