Midlothian

Heather Stoddart (RCAHMS) – Midlothian

Heather Stoddart, RCAHMS

Heather Stoddart, RCAHMS

I am Heather Stoddart, draughtsperson, illustrator and surveyor in the Architecture and Industry Section  at RCAHMS.

Midlothian ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Midlothian ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

My chosen building is the impressive Lady Victoria Colliery at Newtongrange, which we recorded for Industrial Survey.

This was one of the largest surviving Victorian collieries in Midlothian and Europe that was saved from demolition after its closure in 1981 and is now the site of the Scottish Mining Museum. The tall red-brick buildings and the arcading create an impressive structure that housed one of Scotland’s most important industrial processes.

We were asked to produce survey drawings of the ground plan of the site, pithead tub-circuit plan and the North, South, West and East elevations which was an extensive amount of survey work but shows the layout of the buildings to scale and generated a good comprehensive record of the complex.

Survey drawing of the ground plan of Lady Victoria Colliery, drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

Survey drawing of the ground plan of Lady Victoria Colliery, drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

Drawing any Industrial site can be challenging as you are recording a process and machinery but the scale of this site made it even more so. Often a process links one level to another like hoppers, conveyor belts, winding gear and elevators which is important to record and was the case at this site too.

East elevation of Lady Victoria Colliery. Drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

East elevation of Lady Victoria Colliery. Drawn by the author. Copyright RCAHMS

The initial survey was started using a EDM/Total Station (a distance laser theodolite) which generated an accurate skeleton layout of the buildings from which we were able to generate the scaled plans and subsequently the elevations. We also used the EDM to assist with the recording of the Headgear which is the steel structure located above the mine shaft and can be seen from quite a distance due to its elevated position.

I also created finished digital images of the North and West elevations for ‘Scottish Collieries’, a RCAHMS  publication which was published in 2006.

The North elevation image was nominated as Scotland’s favourite archive image by public vote in 2008 for RCAHMS Treasured Places.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

Conservation of Archaeological Metal Assemblage

I am an objects conservator at AOC Archaeology group, a commercial archaeology company based in Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland. There are only two of us in the department so we are kept very busy and are involved in all sorts of projects with every day being completely different. We conserve and stabilise all the finds that our archaeologists in the field excavate.  Often we are the first non-archaeologists to deal with freshly excavated materials and we are constantly ensuring that the materials gain their archaeological potential.

At the moment I am conserving a large number of finds from two sites excavated by our London office. The purpose of the conservation is to stabilise the finds for the long-term archive as well as possibly reveal new details on the surface of the objects, helping the specialists identify and describe the finds.  The finds are all metal – iron, lead and copper alloy with a large number of Roman coins and many coffin nails.

All the artefacts were covered in thick layers of soil and corrosion obscuring the surfaces and masking any detail. Following x-raying of the finds, I cleaned the iron artefacts using an air abrasive machine and the copper alloy items using mechanical methods (scalpel, bamboo skewer) carefully under a binocular microscope.

Me cleaning a copper alloy spoon under the microscope

 

Roman coin after conservation

 

This morning I have been finishing the last few objects and taking after treatment photographs. This afternoon I will be documenting the treatment of each object. As the objects were excavated in London we have to follow a specific documentation procedure set by the Museum of London. Each object has a A5 proforma card with specific information about the find, its condition and how it was treated.

While I have been working in the lab Alan Braby a freelance illustrator has come in to do a recorded drawing of one of the amazing Roman altars that we have been conserving recently. If you would like to find out more we set up a blog about the conservation work we have done on these two Roman altars excavated at Lewisvale Park. Here is the link: http://www.aocarchaeology.com/lewisvale-roman-altars/