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Guerrilla Archaeology: Creative Engagement at Festivals

My Day of Archaeology post will feature one project in particular: my involvement in a new creative engagement project which sees a group of like-minded Cardiff based archaeologists, artists and scientists bring the past alive at festivals! This is quite a new thing for archaeologists in Wales, and perhaps the UK, and I believe there’s huge potential to engage with new and broader audiences through this kind of outreach – people that may not usually come and join in on a typical archaeology open day for instance.

Guerrilla Archaeology is bringing a range of shamanic activities to four festivals around the UK this summer, offering a chance to come and encounter shamans, past, present and future through archaeology, art, sound and movement. You will be able to explore shamans around the world – who are they, what do they do and how do they think? We’ll be offering you the chance to immerse yourself in shamanic ideas, music, movement and transformation by the use of drums, disguise and ceremony. You will be able to come and dress as a shaman and watch as our experimental archaeologist shows you how to create your own shamanic headdress, or join in on a shamanic drumming workshop, shamanic toolkit or totemic art workshop…. or just come along to meet our own resident shaman!

My own background is in the archaeology of worldviews, and this project perfectly pulls together a range of my favourite things, especially the practice and study of shamanism. I studied for a PhD in Neolithic archaeology at Cardiff University, and this project sees  a group of us coming together to celebrate our love of archaeology in a fun, interactive way. You can meet the whole collaborative team on our wordpress blog here: http://guerillaarchaeology.wordpress.com/

Practically yesterday, the true Day of Archaeology, I spent most of my day designing and developing a new evaluation form to be used at our Guerrilla Archaeology venture, but also as part of my work at Cadw (which is the historic environment service for the Welsh Government), where I work as the Public Engagement and Welsh Manager. My work is varied but challenging. In fact, I’d consider this job harder than doing a PhD (and I’d totally love to to another one!). The idea for the evaluation form came from my own experience of dreading the end of a training course or event and having to fill out a boring form… so I have created and designed something that will hopefully encourage people to fill the sheet in. It’s not your normal evaluation form, and I haven’t even tested them out, so I’m going to keep the design a secret until we put them to the test at Secret Garden Party – our first festival outing, but don’t worry you’ll get to see them soon, as we will be posting photos of the completed evaluation forms on the Guerrilla Archaeology blog, so watch out for them if you’re following progress…

The second job for me on the Day of Archaeology was to write another ‘shamans through time’ blog for the project. I have been creating these as resource packs that can be viewed on the wordpress blog and we will also have these are packs for people to read at the festivals themselves. The next blog is the Bronze Age shaman, which focuses on the Upton Lovell burial in Wiltshire. I’ve literally just finished that, so it’s hot off the press… have a look here: Bronze Age shamanism?

Lastly, but maybe most excitingly, I thought I’d let you all have a sneaky peak at the shamanic toolkit I’ve been putting together. It was actually quite useful to set everything out to see exactly what I’ve got to take with me and to visualise what needs to be added. The head-dresses look fantastic, but the challenge now is to create a way to attach these to our heads! A bit of a puzzle indeed!

Shaman’s toolkit
© Ffion Reynolds

Detail of a shamanic offering, it’s interesting to experiment here…
© Ffion Reynolds

A full view of my shamanic toolkit so far. Includes: shaman’s staff on the left; antler head-dress with added ochre; pottery; bone flutes and whistles; flint implements; quartz; beads and organic materials; perforated shells; animal skin.
© Ffion Reynolds

Just before I go, make sure you check us out on twitter @guerrillaarchaeo… I also got these in the post:

New cards!

Hope everyone has enjoyed the Day of Archaeology, so many things happening around the world…

– it’s great just to browse through everyone else’s posts!

Ffion Reynolds

A Week in the Life of a FLO (And Her Helpers)

A week in the life of a FLO – Wendy Scott, Leicestershire and Rutland FLO and Rebecca Czechowicz, FLA.

Monday

I added records to the database from an elderly long-term finder. We visited him at home last week and recorded objects found many years ago, before the scheme started here. We obtained accurate locations using maps and had a chat about his best find, a small but significant Viking coin hoard –The Thurcaston Hoard.

Tuesday

More inputting  (it never stops!).  In the run up to the Festival of Archaeology, myself and my manager have a meeting with our press office to plan our press releases. This year we have 73 festival events to promote, including a launch event at Kirby Muxloe Castle with EH (14th July), an event to promote a new Iron age coin hoard going into Harborough museum with coin striking activities (17th July).

We are also plugging two Leicestershire objects being in the final 10 of Britain’s Secret Treasures, an ITV programme highlighting the 50 most important finds made by the public (16th-22nd July).

We have help from a volunteer today. James Kirton is helping us to get all the amazing Bosworth Roman objects onto the database.  Amongst hundreds of brooches, we have 99 horse and rider brooches! Along with coins and other objects; all found as part of the Bosworth battlefield survey.

Wednesday

We have an appointment at Oakham Museum to meet a finder to record her many objects. Rebecca measures and weighs whilst I photograph and identify all the objects. Handily this co-incides with an invitation to visit Time Team filming at Oakham castle. We met up with Danni, FLO for Devon who works for Time Team, and local detectorist Dr Phil Harding who was detecting the spoil for them, to see what they’d found. A local journalist asked the other Dr Phil Harding if he actually did the digging! He was posing for a photo with a spade at the time,  so he replied “What do you think I do with this?”

Our Dr Phil detects the spoil whilst the other one supervises his trench.

Thursday

Downloading and editing photos and researching objects from our recording yesterday, ready to add them to the database.  I have spoken to the finder of the IA hoard. We are arranging a photo opportunity for the press next week, prior to the event and I needed a quote for the press release. I also spoke to colleagues about one of our museums purchasing a treasure case, a medieval finger ring, for their collection. In the afternoon we were all distracted from work by a violent thunderstorm, with flash flooding and hail the size of golfballs!

Friday

Day of Archaeology! Today I am getting on with recording the objects we identified yesterday. I am also preparing leaflets and flyers for the Festival. Before I leave I will be gathering material for a weekend event. Sunday is the annual open day at Burrough Hill fort, Leicestershire’s best Iron Age fort. The University of Leicester are conducting a five year research project there.  We will have the latest finds along with other Iron Age and Roman objects from the area found by detecting and field-walking. We have Iron age Warriors, coin making and I will be on hand to record anything that people bring along.

With the exception of Time Team being in my area, this is a pretty average summer week. There are always more objects to record and input, events to organise and promote and people to see. . . . .

 

Historic Environment Action Plans for the Cranborne Chase

My name is Emma and I am the Historic Environment Action Plan Project Officer for the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. What a mouthful! Basically what this is about is a gorgeous piece of protected landscape on the Wiltshire Dorset border which incorporates the amazing prehistoric archaeology of the Cranborne Chase, a host of Medieval hunting landscapes, the Vale of Wardour and the chalk landscape of the West Wiltshire Downs. Since 2009  we have been prodocuing a landscape scale vision for the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment of this landscape, and have developed a series of 20 actions to achieve this. We were lucky to secure English Heritage funding for this project as a best practice exemplar for other protected areas.

We are now at the stage of implementing these actions, which leads to a snapshot of my day which has been as is typical very varied…

… first thing I had a meeting with a AONB volunteer who is leading on an action to help our parishes and communities to analyse record the historic landscape character of their villages and the surrounding landscape to inform Village Design Statements and the like. We had a trial workshop at Pimperne on Monday evening and we went through the results and looked at what worked and what didnt

… I drafted a proposal for South Wiltshire CPRE outlining how they might potentially help with the implementation of the Historic Environment Action plans

…I  sat down with my manager Linda and discussed the arrangements for a guided walk we have organised in conjunction with Martin Green on Down Farm on the Cranborne Chase. This is the second event which we have organised as part of the  festival of archaeology. The first was an archaeology seminar last Saturday on the history and archaeology of the area which 85 people came to and which was a fantastic day

…I then coordinated with Laura the eductaion officer at Salisbury Museum over a meeting she is hosting next week focusing on interprepation, education and access to the historic environment of the AONB, and how the various museums, organisations etc can work together better

…next up I responded to a proposal for a Higher Level Stewardship scheme from Natural England on one of the designed landscapes in the AONB and gave some feedback

… I sent some details on a historic farmstead i visited yesterday to one of our local councillors

… finally I got some GIS files and maps ready for next week. I have scanned some slides for Martin Green and amgiving him the .jpegs tomorow. On Tuesday am visiting the Wiltshire Archaeology Service to hand over the AONB Historic Landscape Characterisation and some other GIS files, popping into the Wiltshire Building Record and then going to see our collegues at North Wessex Downs to chat through some Historic Landscape Characterisation data with them.

…the last thing I am doing today is completing this for the Day of Archaeology and will probably post it to my own blog too. See http://historiclandscape.blogspot.com/

Thats all for me if you want to know more about our project visit www.historiclandscape.co.uk

Cheers

Emma

Historic Environment Record News

Hi, my name is Charina Jones, I am the Historic Environment Record Manager at GGAT.  My work is usually quite varied and so today is not really typical of any other day.  This morning I have been updating our internal Geographic Information Systems with data relating to Historic Landscapes, Conservation Areas and Archaeologically Sensitive Areas.  Having this data to hand complements the main HER data and helps when in comes to making decisions about the resource, for example, when used in archaeological planning.

Following this I attended a Trustee meeting of the HER Charitable Trust, the HER is held in Trust to safeguard its existence and protect it from being treated as a commercial, saleable asset.  These meetings occur bi-annually and as manager I present a half yearly report to the Trustees on the activity of the HER – and of course afterwards there is a scrumptious buffet lunch!

This afternoon I have been working on producing letters to accompany a data deposit agreement.  We hope that with the co-operation of other organisations, this agreement will enable us to more freely copy and distribute information to enquirers of the HER.

 

If you would like to search the HER for yourself, visit www.archwilio.org.uk

 

A week in the life of an FLO

A week in the life of a Finds Liaison Officer

By Wendy Scott, FLO forLeicester, Leicestershire andRutland.

Saturday 16th July

My first ‘National Archaeology Fortnight’ event. I am doing an identification session at Melton Mowbray museum today.  During the week I assisted the local detecting and fieldwork groups mount an exhibition for NAF in the Community Showcase. So I have a wonderful backdrop of Roman, Medieval and post medieval metalwork and pottery! I have met two new finders and recorded some good material.

Sunday 17th July

Festival of History!  Today was a very long but very enjoyable day. We always have a stand in the English Heritage marquee and we usually manage to speak to hundreds of people about our work, especially when it rains and they run for cover!  Watching re-enactors of all periods mixing together is quite weird, I’m sure it must confuse the kids! The afternoon dogfight between a Messerschmitt and a Spitfire was cool (obviously the spitfire won!)

Monday 18th July.

Today I am having a well earned rest! I am just in the office to return equipment used over the weekend and to collect a couple of small treasure items which I am passing on to our manager, Roger Bland tomorrow. He will then take them down to the BritishMuseum for the curators to identify and prepare a Treasure report for the Coroner.

Tuesday 19th July

Regional meeting,  BirminghamMuseum. This is when we catch up with each other, discuss issues, organise events etc. Today we had a special treat. We visited the Conservation lab to have a look at Staffordshire hoard objects being cleaned before going on display. They get more amazing the more we see them!  We also said goodbye to Duncan Slarke, Ex West Mids. FLO (the person the Staffordshire hoard was reported to).  Hes off to a new life in Oslo. Lykke til Duncan!

Wednesday 20th July

Today I dealt with Treasure paperwork, passed on purchased Treasure to the Museums staff and took delivery of a medieval gold ring which needs to go through the Treasure system. I spent the rest of the day editing photos (taken at a MD club meeting) ready to add to our website.

This evening I am going to the  launch of   ‘Visions of Ancient Leicester’ A book showing reconstructions based on the last 10 years of extensive excavation in the city.  A large Roman coin hoard,  a treasure case I worked on, recently purchased by Leicester City Musuems.

Thursday 21st July

Today I am trying to get some records on the website. I have a collection of objects including a group of early Medieval metalwork, which has confirmed the location of a long suspected Anglo-SaxonCemetery in the Melton Mowbray area. So as well as adding these to the website I have alerted local Archaeologists who have been wondering where the cemetery might be!  This morning I also processed some Museum Identifications which may or may not end up on the web too.

Friday 22nd July

More data entry today (it never ends!).  I have written a Treasure report for the ring I collected on Wednesday and sent that to the British Museum for checking. I also had the joy of submitting my quarterly financial claim, which always involves fighting the County Council Finance system for a few hours!  Last job of the day was packing my car with Roman material and kids activities for Saturday’s event.

Saturday 23rd July

Meet the experts’ at Harborough Museum. My last NAF event, today we are concentrating on the Iron age and Roman periods to compliment our wonderful Hallaton Hoard display (over 5,000 Iron age coins excavated from a ‘temple’ site). I have been showing people Roman coins and artefacts and getting children to design their own coins. My Colleague Helen Sharp has been teaching people about life in the Iron age and letting people make their own replica coins, always immensely popular!

I’m now off on a camping trip with my extended family, so enjoy ‘Day of Archaeology!