Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group

Another busy day

Hello from Bob Clarke. Well another day of contrasts for me. The first few hours of this morning was taken up with planning the curriculum for the apprentice training school at Boscombe Down. I should say, for those who are not familiar with me, that like most archaeologists I have fingers in a number of pies. Since last year I have been promoted to Curriculum Manager – I’m responsible for the success of all students studying aeronautical engineering at the station. I am also the archaeologist on site – connected to the conservation group – an MoD sponsored post. Part of the Ministry’s requirements for Boscombe Down is that it has an archaeologist available to advise on ground works, undertake small-scale excavation and watching briefs and co-ordinate works and mitigation with outside agencies, contractors and official bodies. Sounds like fun but can be a right royal pain in the backside on occasion.
Today I have been finishing writing the watching brief sections of a 4.5km trench for essential services I followed recently. This involved not only me but Wessex Archaeology and an external contractor. The work took just over twelve weeks and turned up some interesting material. By 2 o’clock I was back home. This afternoon has been taken up with prepping for a community excavation I am planning in August. The project design was submitted to the County Archaeologist and accepted last week, so now it’s all hands to the pump. The dig is to be co-ordinated between my group (Broad Town Archaeology) and the Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group from the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. Basically one of our local residents was removing trees from the front of her property when she discovered some walls. Luckily she had studied archaeology at night school (delivered by me as it happened at the University of Bath) some years ago, putting theory into practice she recognised what was there and called the County Archaeologist – who called me and asked if we could help – naturally I said yes. I am currently offering places on the dig, free of charge, to local residents and members of the Wiltshire Museum. So this afternoon I have been checking all the paperwork – context forms, small finds that sort of thing – ready for next month.
And after that it’s more work on the PhD thesis. I’m intending to submit by next September. Currently I’m writing the archaeological chapter before heading into the theoretical aspects of abandonment process – the key point of the work.
So today has been much the same as last year, a mixture of commercial, community and academic archaeology. Wouldn’t have it any other way. And this year’s quote from the good, late, professor is ‘just because it isn’t there now – doesn’t mean it wasn’t there then’. I’m not sure I’d get away with that as an argument in the thesis!