Visitor Center

c.150 days… and counting

About 150 days until what I hear you ask? Just the small matter of the public opening of the new Stonehenge visitor centre.

If you’ve read my two previous Day of Archaeology posts from 2011 and 2012, you’ll know that this particular project fills all of my work hours, some of my weekend hours and a bit of my sleep. I’m the archaeologist writing, devising and advising on all the content for the new centre. This includes the permanent exhibition, the opening temporary exhibition, the external gallery, the landscape interpretation scheme, the audio tour… whatever we are going to be telling visitors about Stonehenge, I’ll have had some input into it.

The entrance to the new visitor centre - a lot of scaffolding and cones at the moment!

The entrance to the new visitor centre – a lot of scaffolding and cones at the moment!

So what I have been up to today? No surprise that I have been office bound (except for a lunchtime to trip to buy paella from the stalls in Queen Square outside my office – it’s the Bristol harbour festival this weekend) and juggling a few different things:

1. E-mails and a phone call about exciting discoveries at Stonehenge this week. Suffice to say that the recent dry weather has been showing up parchmarks beautifully and its been a bit of a scrabble to help get colleagues out on site to survey and photograph them. The last of these e-mails was at 10pm.

2. Commenting on my colleague Harriet Attwood’s designer’s drawings for her interactives for the education room – pulling stones, building Stonehenge, cut-away Stonehenge, dig your own barrow, etc.

3. Commenting on a new draft reconstruction from artist Peter Lorimer of the late Neolithic settlement at Durrington Walls – a few more trees, more activity and people, slightly zoomed in, and we’re there.

4. Commenting on my designer’s drawings of a map of all Grooved Ware findspots in the UK for the permanent exhibition display case – trying to choose which key sites to have photographs of (plumped for Skara Brae, Callanish, Newgrange, Thornborough Henges and Avebury to get a good geographical spread, but might have to double check my thinking on this!)

5. Collating and marking up photographs and images for our landscape panel scheme – we’ve been working closely with the National Trust to replace and improve the panel scheme in the Stonehenge landscape and we’re at design stage now, so quite a lot of back and forth about thumbnail maps, photographs, etc. This includes various e-mails back and forth with Nick Snashall, archaeologist at the Trust about panel positions and photo mark-ups – via Blackberry as she is digging at West Kennett avenue today! A large shared Dropbox folder later and our designer has lots to work with.

6. E-mails relating to: new photography, audio tour interviews, a request for images from Jane Ellis-Schon who is project curator at Salisbury Museum for their new prehistory gallery, temporary exhibition catalogue layouts, writing for the EH website…

The pressure is on. And I’m feeling it! That’s why this is only a short post and why it’s also a day late.