Project Officer

Not a Typical Friday: Not a Typical Archaeologist

I have to admit, first off, that I’m not an archaeologist; not qualified as such and never dug in my life… (my experience is in historic building research and analysis; but that’s a different kind of archaeology I suppose!) My job title doesn’t suggest anything either – ‘Project Officer’ – I added the ‘brackets Historic Environment’ bit so people would (sort of) know what I do…

I am currently maternity covering for an osteoarchaeologist who has done a sterling job over the last couple of years organising local history and archaeology projects for the Tamar Valley AONB, getting people involved in looking at and understanding their local landscape.

Friday was not a typical day. Got to work at 8.30 and grabbed a lift with our new manager, Corinna, to Liskeard to a HELM training event on the NPPF (one of my aims of this blog is to get as many abbreviations and acronyms in as possible..!). I’m not really one for planning, policy and all that, but it was actually rather good. When I worked at EH I was constantly up to date with policy; now after 6 months in this job I’ve started to feel a little out of the loop, and it was good to get back on track with the terminology, paragraph numbers, and discussions about uPVC windows. AONB policy only came a up a couple of times but it’s good to be informed about the wider picture.

Back to the office for 2pm. What to do now on a Friday afternoon? Replied to some emails (nothing that exciting) and finished some guidance notes for my hedge surveyors. We are running a big project at the moment searching for significant hedges in the Tamar Valley. Most of our volunteers are involved as they have skills in species identification, and my job is to get them thinking about the history of hedges, and their contribution to the character of the landscape. The history section of the survey sheet has been puzzled over by some, and left blank a few times too! I’ve reassessed it and realised that some of the questions are a bit intense (we don’t have the resources to make every hedge survey ever done in West Devon and East Cornwall available to our volunteers, for example). I could spend hours pouring over old maps and interrogating the HERs, and being amazed by the patterns hedges make in the landscape, but I’m likewise impressed by the skills of the volunteers to identify up to 120 different species of plant in a 30m stretch of hedge!

My colleague (and some say half of the SB/SB double act) Simon came back from a site visit at 4pm; his daughter Jennie has been with us all week on work experience. Lucky her – beats working in a shop! Had a brief chat about what I’m up to this week as he is on Jury Service, and then decided to call it a day and get back home for happy hour in my local (it is Friday after all!).

Jennie took lots of photos of the Tamar Valley and posted them on our Facebook page. Why not take a look?  Where you can also find out more about the things the AONB team do …!

Samantha Barnes

Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Project Officer (Historic Environment)

A week with the Hallaton Treasure Project

Today, I’m not being very archaeological at all (currently watching a repeat of Only Fools and Horses on my day off) so thought I’d write about the last week of my job as Project Officer working with the Hallaton Treasure.

The Hallaton Treasure is an internationally important Late Iron Age find comprising over 5000 Iron Age and Roman coins, a Roman cavalry parade helmet, the remains of around 400 pigs and other unique silver objects which were all buried at an Iron Age shrine in south east Leicestershire between 50 BC and AD 60ish.  Many of the finds are displayed at Harborough Museum, Market Harborough where I’m based most of the time.

Coins from the Hallaton Treasure, copyright Leicestershire County Council

Saturday 23 July

Spent the day working at the museum’s I Love Archaeology! event as part of the Festival of British Archaeology.  I was joined by Leicestershire Finds Liaison Officer, Wendy Scott, who kindly gave up her Saturday to talk to visitors about Roman coins and show them some of her handling collection.  I had fun showing kids (and a few adults) how to strike their own replica Corieltavian coins with our bespoke coin striking kit.  Also got to show off a few coins from the Treasure which aren’t usually on display and allowed visitors to carefully handle them.    A lovely day.

Sunday 24 July

Hallaton Treasure Roadshow visited a Festival event in the village of Great Bowden near Market Harborough organised by the very active Great Bowden Heritage and Archaeology  group.  They were launching their new book “Furlong and Furrow” and I had another enjoyable day talking to people about the Treasure and doing more coin making.  My roadshow events usually involve me dressed as “Seren the Iron Age” woman and this was no exception.  Had a go at making a thumb pot out of clay which was one of the fun activities organised by the group for the event.  It turns out that Seren is a rubbish potter and I gave up after my third disastrous attempt.  Was good to get out of my itchy, woollen tube dress at the end of the day!

Monday 25 July

My first full day back in the office for a while was spent catching up on emails and working towards the next major stage of the project – the displaying the Hallaton Helmet at Harborough Museum following three years of conservation at the British Museum.  Conservation work will finish in December this year and the helmet will be displayed at the end of January.  It’s such an exciting project to be involved in, but there is still lots to do before the public get to see this magnificent example of a 1st century AD, silver-gilt, cavalry helmet.

Cheekpiece from the Hallaton Helmet, copyright University of Leicester Archaeological Services

Tuesday 26 July

Another Hallaton Treasure Roadshow, this time at Charnwood Museum, Loughborough.  A great museum featuring lots of local archaeological finds, well worth a visit.  About 100 people took part in the day which included kids craft activities such as making a “Roman helmet” out of card or an Iron Age torc from glittery pipe cleaners.  Older visitors could chat to me about the Treasure.  Hopefully I didn’t bore them too much, once I get started it’s difficult to stop!

Wednesday 27 July

Back in the office, more helmet planning.  Took a call from a Roman re-enactment group who we hope to work with at the public launch of the helmet at the end of January.  Chatted about hiring stunt Roman cavalrymen and ponies to ride around the town centre.  Also sent some emails to the conservation team working on the helmet regarding photographing the finds and timescales etc.

Arranged to visit Tullie House Museum, Carlisle to see their new Roman Frontier Gallery which currently has a Roman cavalry sports helmet from Nijmegen, The Netherlands.  This helmet as loaned to the museum following their unsuccessful bid for the Crosby Garrett Helmet.  Can’t wait to see it and chat to staff about Roman helmets next month.

Thursday 28 July

Another Roadshow event, this time at The Guildhall, Boston where the Hallaton Treasure Travelling Exhibition is on display.  This exhibition has been touring the East Midlandsfor two years and is another interesting aspect of the Hallaton Treasure Project.  The Guildhall recorded their highest ever number of visitors in one day, hope in part due to the free activities we were providing.  Was impressed by the many finds being displayed in the Guildhall which have just been dug up in an excavation taking place in the town’s Market Place.  A wooden patten was the latest find and staff had to spray it with water every hour!

Friday 29 July

Welcome day off.  Getting ready for last Festival of Archaeology event taking place at Harborough Museum tomorrow.  Re-enactors in for Celts V Romans – should be a great way to end a hectic few weeks.

Post-excavation research and reporting

Hello, my name is Rowena Hart and I work as a Project Officer at GGAT. I am currently undertaking a post-excavation project following a pretty large excavation outside Merthyr in South Wales. We excavated a really important industrial landscape dating to the very beginnings of the industrial period in the area. Excitingly there was also prehistoric archaeology up there too! We were there for about 18 months and so the site archive is huge! We are writing stratigraphic accounts today and undertaking research into the nature of the industrial components of the area especially the ironstone and coal mines. I hope to start sending out the finds to our specialists this afternoon.

My Friday Morning

Morning everyone, my name is Rob Dunning and I am a Project Officer with GGAT Projects. I have recently completed several field evaluations. Evaluations involve the excavation of trial trenches in advance of construction works with the aim of determining if any archaeological remains are present. The fieldwork is complete and I am currently printing and binding hard copies of the reports so our clients can discharge their various planning conditions. Specifically, we excavated trenches at Merthyr College and Caerphilly Castle. At Merthyr we discovered the remains of  a casting house of the Ynys Fach Ironworks, along with stone sleepers associated with its tramway system. The Caerphilly excavations were on a much smaller scale, but we found Roman pottery and a possible flagstone surface, likely associated with the Roman auxiliary fort.

New Roman discoveries in the offing

My name is Martin Tuck, a Project Officer with GGAT. My role alternates between fieldwork and  office based report writing. At the moment I am engaged on the preparation of an archaeological excavation design, including Scheduled Monument Consent from Cadw, for additional work relating to the site of a Roman fort in Neath, where the Trust carried out an archaeological excavation during 2010, which continued through to the early part of 2011. The  Roman remains discovered related to a 1st century Roman fort, which included defensive ditches and associated rampart, cooking areas and an internal circuit road.  The forthcoming works are likely to reveal details of part of the barracks.


Finally, after a huge amount of fundraising effort, Archaeology Scotland is about to launch it’s bigger, better and more socially inclusive community archaeology initiative, Adopt-a-Monument. Especial mention to the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER. Our 5 year programme will help local societies across Scotland to conserve, interpret and make accessible, sites that are important to them. Today, we are shortlisting for the Project Officer post, having just appointed a Project Manager at the begining of July. Next, we will be taking on a part-time Outreach Officer who will set up and deliver projects with unemployed young people, young offenders, homeless people and communities who do not normally engage with heritage and archaeology. One of our first projects will be to involve young people from Granton and Pilton (very disadvantaged areas of Edinburgh) to record old football grounds in the city. We hope our projects will help the groups we work with to develop skills and find alternative interests and make positive life choices.