junior clerk

Digging from a desk

Prynhawn bob.  I’m Andy Sherman, an Assistant Project Officer with the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeology Trust.  For a large part of the day I’ve been working on a Written Scheme of Investigation or WSI.  This is a document that sets out what sort of work needs to be conducted on a site (evaluations, watching-briefs, building recordings etc) and how that work should be carried out, they are often attached to planning applications by curatorial archaeologists.  The WSI gives the client and the curatorial archaeologists confidence that the site will be excavated properly and gives the field archaeologists doing the digging an idea of the archaeology, geology and history of the site and surrounding area.  The site I’ve been looking at today is an early 18th century farmhouse, which is a Grade II Listed Building and roughly 500m away from a deserted medieval village.  So the archaeologists digging here can hopefully expect to find lots of medieval remains as well as recording any changes to the structure of the building itself during it’s renovation.

Sitting behind a desk is not what I thought I’d be doing when I first became an archaeologist, having watched one to many Indy films as a kid I expected my job to involve long days in the field, discovering the exciting remains of long lost civilisations and being chased by angry tribesmen.  And to be fair the first few years of my job were like that, but as I’ve got older and my knees have started to creek and my back has started to protest I look forward to odd day in the office pouring over old maps and documents.

Talking of old documents I’ve also been fielding phone calls from journalists about a site I was excavating in the centre of Swansea earlier in the year.  While working on site we uncovered a stash of job application letters in a basement.  The letters were written in 1931 and are all from young women, aged between 15 and a half and 21, applying for the position of junior clerk, advertised in a local newspaper.  We’re keen to track-down the relatives or even the applicants themselves so have been in touch with various journalists.  Today they’ve been getting back in touch wanting extra photographs and quotes.

The last job I need to do before heading for a Friday pint is start a new desk-based assessment for a development in Port Talbot.

Job application for junior clerk, 1931