Beth

The Final Day of the Woking Palace Archaeology Project on the Day of Archaeology

The Day of Archaeology coincided with the final day of the Woking Palace Archaeology Project.  We are in our final season of a three year project which has seen us discover more about this fascinating site.  To find out more see: Friends of Woking Palace

For the 2011 season we have opened up three areas:  Trench 12 to look at the kitchens, Trench 13 to look at the gatehouse and Trench 14 to investigate buildings to the north of the site, possibly the chapel for the Palace or a later kitchen area connected to the Great Hall (part of its walls were uncovered in the 2009 season).

Trench 14 was excavated by members of the public taking part in archaeology for the first time as part of the ‘Dig for a Day’ scheme.  This year we have had over 160 local people taking part in the dig, including local groups such as Woking Brownies, and the U3A.

The last day of public participation was on Thursday 28th, and by this time both Trenches 12 and 13 had been completed.  However, there was still plenty to do in Trench 14, so it was all hands to the trench to finish excavating and tidy the site for photos at lunch.  The team on the Day of Archaeology mainly consisted of members of the Surrey Archaeological Society and Friends of Woking Palace who have supported the project throughout.

A video-blog has been created of the dig in progress: Woking Palace Video Blogs

The Woking Palace Archaeology Project is a collaborative partnership project involving and supported by Woking Borough Council, Surrey County Council, Surrey Archaeological Society, the Friends of Woking Palace, Heritage Enterprise (Surrey County Archaeological Unit), Archaeology South-East, Quest (University of Reading), and the University of Nottingham.

Find out more about archaeology in Surrey here:

Community Archaeology in Surrey

Exploring Surrey’s Past

Surrey Heritage

Join in the conversation at #surreyheritage

Abby Guinness
Community Archaeologist
Surrey County Council

 

WP2011

Laura completing her first wall sheet WP2011

Woking Palace 2011

Father and daughter George and Beth finishing off their feature WP2011

Woking Palace 2011

How many volunteers can you fit in Trench 14? WP2011


Why I Love Pot

Hello, this is Alice Forward, PhD student at Cardiff, wrapping up the Cosmeston Archaeology contributions for Day of Archaeology 2011. We have had three excellent blogs today; Nicolle who started the day with photo scanning, Louise at lunchtime discussed how she was lured to archaeology by medieval dreams, and afternoon tea with Kyle, a Cosmeston old timer who is particularly familiar with the 2010 season of excavation. These three are part of a group of six students undertaking a post-excavation course on the material from Cosmeston. We will be bringing you blogs from each (Stuart, Sarah and Beth) over the next three weeks on our Cosmeston archaeology blog, so please check us out!

Post-excavation generally places archaeologists into two camps. Those who secretly enjoy organising things and those who are likely to start taking holiday time in order to avoid those rainy pot washing days. I most definitely fall into the former of these, but it isn’t the cataloguing that gets me going! Post-excavation enables you to directly engage with the archaeological record and analytical process. As Kyle said you understand so much more when you begin to bring it all together.

This week has involved initial work with the paper archive and, as all the finds had been washed and bagged on site, we moved straight to marking and sorting the pottery. The key principle for marking pottery is that it should be resilient but reversible, so that if necessary it can be removed. In order to achieve this we use Paraloid B72 (a non-yellowing acrylic resin) mixed with acetone (20% weight to volume). A thin band of this is painted on the object and, after it has dried, the site code and context number is written on in black ink. When the ink has dried a second layer of Paraloid is applied to seal the information. This can be removed without damaging the object using a cotton swab and 100% acetone (for more information see Collections Link).

As Louise also mentioned, marking pottery is necessary for a number of reasons. Firstly, boxes get dropped, mice can chew through plastic bags and plastic bags degrade. With pottery all marked up, there is no danger of losing context, enabling future generations to study assemblages. Secondly, particularly with pottery, interpretation of contexts can be helped if it is clear that parts of one vessel were deposited within a number of different features. To keep a record of this, and to enable reconstruction of the pot, you need to be able to know specifically where the sherds came from.

Sherd Nerd

Alice Loves Pot 4 eva

Alice Loves Pot 4 eva

Why do I have such a fascination and love of pottery?! I first began to find it particularly interesting when I was excavating in Leicester city centre on the High Cross development. The work there was bringing up massive amounts of ceramic material and I was particularly frustrated that I couldn’t identify the sherds (other than what was medieval and what was Roman). This lack of knowledge cultivated a desire to be able to know my way around a ceramic assemblage. I was lucky enough at ULAS to have a supportive manager, Nick Cooper, who began my formal training. Since starting the PhD at Cardiff University I have developed a good knowledge of South Welsh pottery. This saved me this week, as people were tired of just marking random bits of pottery, but once they were able to recognise what they were marking the job became far more interesting.

Reading the last paragraph back has slightly surprised me and made me realise how exciting my life must seem…