Saxon

This rains got us bored to death, hope it doesn’t get in my tent, boy I wish that I’d brought proper boots! (What else is there to do on rain day then change the lyrics to Mulan!)

Here at Oakington dig everyone has a different role to play in order to make sure the research is completed on time; and Friday was like any other day on site, well with a bit more rain and more post-work drinks!

Trench three and the effects of the rain!

Trench three and the effects of the rain!

The weather in the morning had taken a turn for the worse, which meant that our students were huddled in the marquee focusing on finds washing and completing any outstanding paperwork, not the most fun job in the world by any means, but not one that is solely for students. Our site director Duncan also took the opportunity to get up to date with his marking, feedback and number crunching.

Tommy hard at work on his context sheets

Tommy hard at work on his context sheets

Site Director Duncan doing some admin!

Site Director Duncan doing some admin!

The rain couldn’t keep us down for long though and by the afternoon we were back on site making the most of softer soils and clearer color divisions of our features; something which not only makes planning easier but also lifts spirits. Below you can see Tommy taking advantage of this by taking measurements for the master plan of trench three, and our students enjoying some unexpected sunshine and working hard.

Tommy taking measurements for the master plan of trench 3!

Tommy taking measurements for the master plan of trench 3!

 

The sun has got his hat on!

The sun has got his hat on!

The 11th was also the final Friday of the project, as this year sees UCLAN, MMU and OAE’s five year collaboratory research project come to an end. The local village put on a farewell party for staff and students, which offered the people of the village and nearby areas come and celebrate the projects successes and ask any questions they may want to. Much drinking, dancing, and partying was had by all who came and it was certainly a lovely way to begin drawing the excavation season to a close, and say a fond goodbye to a village that has shown us such kindness, support and enthusiasm.

7

-Bones without Barriers

 

 

 

 

 

Conserving a spearhead

I am an objects conservator working to help preserve museum collections in Wiltshire. Much of the work I do is with archaeological collections including the item I am working on today which is a spearhead from the Saxon period and the ferrule from the bottom of the spear.

The spearhead and ferrule

The spearhead and ferrule

Why this needs treating

The item has been part of museum collection since the 1940s and has been treated in the past to conserve it.  A thick layer of clear lacquer was applied as part of the old conservation treatment which is not the way iron objects are normally preserved today.  The lacquer gives the object a glossy appearance and several hairs from the brush it was applied with are stuck in the coating.

As well as being unsightly the coating is also ineffective. The idea behind using the coating is to prevent corrosion by stopping oxygen in the air from coming into contact with the metal. However the coating has either worn away in places or did not completely cover the object and new corrosion is forming in the gaps. Fresh corrosion can be seen as little round bubbles of orange material on the surface of the object and the corrosion is also forcing cracks to open up in the metal. If this deterioration was allowed to continue it could cause a great deal of damage to the object with fragments of metal flaking away until ultimately there would be nothing left.

The treatment

To prevent any further deterioration I am going to remove the coating and corrosion products using a technique called air abrasion. This is similar to sand blasting but done on a very small scale. The object is cleaned with fine aluminium oxide powder in a jet of air. The air and powder comes out of a hand held nozzle less than 1mm wide. I can control the air pressure and the amount of abrasive powder I am using in order to clean the object very precisely and will be working under a microscope so that I can see exactly what I am doing in fine detail. I will post another picture of the object when I have finished so that you can see the difference cleaning it has made.

 

A colleague using a the air abrasive machine

A colleague using a the air abrasive machine