Surveying in Ireland

Today’s only anomaly

It’s now 10pm on the Friday night of the Day of Archaeology in Ireland…. and I’m just about finished for the week. I’ll be called away to get packing for a very brief holiday soon – so in this window of opportunity I’ll post this short entry. In previous years I’ve had the luxury of time to put together a cogent entry, but this evening I’m just about to kick back and relax, so forgive the brevity.

I run a very small commercial archaeology consultancy in the west of Ireland, at peak employing 18 people full time and a cohort of contractors. We’ve been reduced to three full time and two contractors today. This has created its own problems – we have the legacy of a bigger company, with a solid IT infrastructure but we’ve lost some very experienced staff.

Earlier today Charles posted on  ‘Picking up the pieces’ after the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and the problems of emigration, the resultant loss of knowledge and experience and the impact of economic failure on the cultural heritage sector, and it’s something that has affected us as well.

One element of that is that my role has become far busier – at one time I had the luxury of keeping up a consistent blog for the company, and was focussed on marketing and management – now that there’s only two full time archaeologists (me and Bill) and an ecologist (Ger), the job runs from accounting to assessment to  being out on site testing and monitoring, with a great deal of travel throughout Ireland, long days and long distances.

I started (very) early  this morning on a field survey in the East of Ireland  but was able to get back to the office by lunch. The survey was part of a large EIS for an infrastructure project and involved visiting farms to establish whether aerial anomalies were of archaeological potential or could be otherwise explained. One inspection was all that was required today. Didn’t find anything! Back in office the weeks notes had to be written up – smartphones are a lowercase godsend – all my field notes are voice recorded, my photographs are geolocated, I have a suite of maps on dropbox on the phone and just have to come back and transcribe the voice recordings (also georeferenced), upload the photos to Google Earth and remember to save everything in the right place. Paperless… That’s the aim.

Later, it’s time to complete the final draft of an EIS for a proposed gas pipeline which involves most of the afternoon working on GIS measuring distances and editing the text. A little bit of CAD work on another project brings me to dinnertime – This is something I thoroughly enjoy. I started in archaeology as a site illustrator and always enjoyed that role, doing the occasional digitisation and prettifying of site drawings these days is something I find hugely relaxing for some reason – maybe it’s all the nice colours and shades you can play with, or the uncomplicated nature of it.. I don’t know, it’s late and I’m tired.

Then – the dreaded invoicing, accounting and chasing money… less said about that the better.

And finally the day is rounded off with preparing a fee proposal. That takes me until 9… Bit of cleaning and packing and here we are, Worthingtons Red Shield and me. Goodnight from Ireland.