Guy Hunt

The Kitchen Table Theory

It’s not my table, but you get the idea. Photo: Guy Hunt.

 

My Day of Archaeology began early, over tea and toast at my kitchen table. Having another archaeologist as a house guest has been a great excuse for extended breakfast table discussions on the meaning of (archaeological) life, the universe and everything. I have this pet theory that some of our best and most productive work takes place around the kitchen table, sometimes that might be in the form of a heated debate or at other times, after wiping down the breadcrumbs and spreading out a map or a matrix diagram, it might be in the form of analysis and writing.

Cutting to the business end of this blog entry: what did I do today on this Day of Archaeology? Emails responded, check. Reports printed and sent out to the Local Planning Authority, check. Discussion with other partners about the current state of our projects, check. Clients chased up for payment, check (but no cheque).

I wanted to be honest and write this blog about my actual day today. I didn’t want to dress it up too much and make out that everyday is an endless series of incredible discoveries and eureka moments. Sometimes, the less than glamorous truth is that this job is actually just a job. Running a small archaeology business requires a lot of patience. For every project I do that results in a great find or a fantastic publication, there are countless hours spent organising, negotiating, networking, politicking and generally administering things.

So, although in a way this was “just another day at the office”, it was much more than that, it was a series of tiny steps leading toward the next joyful piece of fieldwork, it was a day of trying to put all of my ongoing projects into the same forward direction.

I have got a really exciting fieldwork project programmed in for August, when hopefully we will be digging test pits into part of London’s city ditch. At the moment the project is in that tricky stage of getting everything set up and ready to go. I need to get my Written Scheme of Investigation into this evening’s post (with a little bit of help from one of my lovely partners) and we need to get staff sorted out and programmed in, we need to get all our logistics in place as well as our health and safety assessments and 101 other vital details. There is also some all important day dreaming to be done about how great this project is going to be and what different technologies (such as ARK) that we can trial on the project.

Hopefully, if I can get through all that, this afternoon I can also get a few more of these small steps done on that fieldwork write up project that has been on my conscience since January.

To all of the other archaeologists in the libraries, archaeology offices, laboratories, site huts and kitchen tables of the world, I salute you.

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Guy Hunt is a Partner in L – P : Archaeology a UK based commercial archaeology (CRM) company. Guy also has some archaeology photos on his flickr.

Proofing and my pudding

In what has turned out to be a day of coincidences, I have had a lovely surprise. A fat envelope containing the proofs of my forthcoming LAMAS article landed on our office doormat. I promise that this was not all planned in advance in some sort of dodgy attempt to make my Day of Archaeology sound more interesting!

My name is Guy Hunt. I am a partner at L – P : Archaeology, a British commercial archaeology practice. I have been with L – P since 1999 which is now starting to seem like quite a long time ago. My day to day work usually involves a mix of project management, website and digital archaeology and quite a bit of time spent at a desk. I have also just become a dad, so after a couple of weeks of paternity leave I have come back to a lot of work that I need to catch up on. (If you are expecting an email from me… and are reading this post thinking “why the blooming hell is Guy writing this and not replying to me!” don’t despair, I promise to be up to date by the end of Monday.)

My morning was spent trying to sort out a knotty javascript problem for a forthcoming website. This sort of thing can sometimes take an inordinate amount of time. The classic problem is caused by needing to code websites for a range of different browsers. All that hard work, you get things looking “just so” and then you have to test in Internet Explorer… grrrr.

Proofs (and a red pen)

This afternoon it was time to turn to something a little more archaeological, taking a look at those proofs. This is the (almost) final point in the life of a project that started out 12 years ago when I first joined L – P. The site is now the Grange City Hotel, but will always be known to us as “Cooper’s Row” (AKA: Coopers, Cooperz, Das Coop or Coopers la Rue). The site is located at the eponymous Cooper’s Row, at the eastern fringe of the City of London.

Despite an impressively roomy sounding 18,000 words this article is actually an incredibly ‘boiled down’ account of the archaeology of the site. The publication is the culmination of the work of hundreds of people, most of whom are sadly not mentioned by name in the article. The site includes a write up and synthesis of 4 sites (ASQ87, CPW99, CPQ03 and CRZ06). On top of the archaeological evidence from those sites, the paper also wraps up the current state of knowledge about the city wall in this area and prints two brand new elevation drawings of the wall.

ASQ87 was excavated over 20 years ago by the then Department of Urban Archaeology of the Museum of London (DUA) and the fact that I could go back and revive the records from this site is a testament to the quality of the original recording and record keeping. CPW99 was excavated in 1999 and 2000 by AOC archaeology, supervised by Diccon Hart who also supervised the CPQ03 site, this time directly for L – P. Diccon wrote up the stratigraphic sequences for both of these sites, doing all of the stratigraphic analysis (heavy duty number crunching!) as well as writing up the group narrative.

On top of the stratigraphic analysis, there was a huge range of material from all of the different specialists. To name just a few of the specialists, who hail mostly from the Museum of London: pottery (Lyn Blackmore & Amy Thorpe), registered finds (Geoff Egan and Angela Wardle) animal bones (Kevin Reilly). My job was to bring all of this material together and to try to hang it onto the framework provided by Chris Phillpott’s report on the documentary sources available for Cooper’s Row. As well as the text, our own GIS people Andy Dufton and Jess Ogden mangled our plans into gorgeous looking drawings. Finally Pete Rowsome did a very very well needed edit to the text adding detail and giving a well deserved ‘haircut’ to the shaggy parts.

So there you go, I wrote nearly 700 words and I didn’t even get a chance to thank any of the wonderful diggers and back office staff who made all this possible. Let me be absolutely clear: without you, none of this would be possible!

It’s great to see these proofs looking so lovely… and I am relieved to say, needing very little editing… now where is my pudding?