Segontium

Photographing Archaeology

Here in the photography department at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales we look after images for all of the seven museum sites including the Archaeology department. That means taking new photographs of archaeological objects, and scanning historical photographs (e.g. prints and slides).

Here’s an example of how both are used.

Segontium Roman Fort, Caernarfon

These photos from the 1920s show the excavations at Segontium led by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the then Keeper of Archaeology and later Director of National Museum Wales. They were scanned from glass plates. Here’s a few of the 102 images from this collection:

Cellar in the Headquarters building (praetorium)

Headquarters building (praetorium) during excavations in the 1920s

Sir Mortimer Wheeler (left) showing visiting dignitaries around the site including Lady Lloyd George (front right)

The photographs may be of use to modern archaeologists interpreting the site, but personally I like spotting the shadow of the photographer and his tripod (we’ve all managed to do that haven’t we!) and checking out those fabulous 1920s hats!

Here’s where modern photography comes in. The following images were taken recently of objects from the 1920s excavations.

Flagon found at Segontium, but produced in Oxfordshire will be on display in the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History

The Goddess of war must have protected someone in their time of need, in return he vowed to dedicate to her an altar which was found in the strong room of the Headquarters building. It reads: To the goddess Minerva Aurelius Sabinianus, actarius, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.

The images are digitally archived so that they’re accessible for use in exhibitions, publications, presentations and online.

Some of the finds from Segontium will be on display in the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History opening in 2018.

You can see more historic photographs here.

You can find out more about Segontium Roman Fort by clicking here or by visiting the site.

We’re working hard getting our collections online so you can search our object database and see information and images of our collections for yourself.

 

Archaeology From Indoors – A Day in the Life of a Small Unit

We are a small archaeological unit (C.R Archaeology) based in Bangor, North Wales and because of our small size we often have very varied days! The Day of Archaeology 2012 is no exception with the two of us working on aselection of different tasks throughout the day.

Matt Jones started his day washing out a load of empty beer bottles – not our glass recycling but a lovely assemblage of Victorian bottles found at Benarth Walled Gardens, Conwy. The gardener working there seems to have had a fondness for the local ale and the bottles are all from Conwy and Llandudno breweries.

Once this washing was finished Matt stuck with finds and went to work on his assessment of Roman finds recovered during a 2001 excavation at Segontium, Caernarfon. The Roman Fort has undergone some difficult times recently but luckily Cadw have now stepped in to administer the site. This work is being carried out as part of our commitment to help charities & community groups and is being conducted free of charge.

Whilst Matt had a day of finds Cat Rees had to attend to the much more mundane side of running a small business. The day started with checking the company emails and facebook site, writing a tender and then off to the bank to check that the money from a client had been paid in. That done it was time to process a batch of RAW photograph files into TIFFs so that they could be burnt to disc to accompany a building recording report for submission to Gwynedd Historic Environment Record. Not entirely sure this was what I had in mind when I made the decision to become an archaeologist – bit more Marcus Brody than Indiana Jones!!!

After Cats breakneck start to the day it was time for putting together a projected income for an appointment with the banks small business adviser. Then onto starting a bit of a revamp of the company website and designing some new promotional material. If this wasn’t exciting enough the day ended with the printing out and binding of a set of reports for submission on Monday.

This all sounds a bit dull but it is an important part of what we do – by setting up an independent unit the reality is that we sink or swim based on our own work and the effort we put in. But we have the flexibility to do our own thing and take on jobs simply because they interest us and having control our own time is fantastic. Not everyday is like this – the Day of Archaeology 2012 came at a strange time when we have just finished one project and are starting another on Tuesday so luckily next week will we will be free range rather than battery archaeologists!