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Behind the scenes at Current Publishing

Hello from Chiswick in West London, where the sun has finally come out and it’s all systems go in the Current Publishing office.

My name’s Carly – I’m the Editorial Assistant for Current Archaeology and Current World Archaeology, and as it’s the Day of Archaeology today I thought I’d take you behind the scenes to see how the magazines are put together.

Friday is treats day at Current Publishing, and today the morning got off to a very promising start with advertising maestro Mike earning literal brownie points by bringing in some baked goodies for us to share. We’re always excited when cake arrives in the office, and with one team birthday yesterday and two more imminent, there’s a lot of it about.

Right now we’re slap-bang in the middle of the press cycle. Our sister magazine Military History Monthly was sent to the printers yesterday, so today the full might of the design team has switched over to CWA, which is the next to go (in July).

Designer Justine is currently working her magic on the culture section, making our museum and book reviews look fabulous, while Art Editor Mark is experimenting with options for the next cover. At the moment we have 10 separate designs stuck up on the wall, which certainly brightens things up a bit!

CWA Editor Caitlin is putting the finishing touches to the last couple of features that are going into the next issue (#54), giving them a last polish before they are signed off as ‘ready to lay out’, while CA Editor Matt is out in the field, visiting an excavation at Oakington in Cambridgeshire where some seriously spectacular Anglo-Saxon burials are being uncovered. We covered the site in CA 261, and it’s fantastic to see that there are more stories to reveal. Watch this space for more information in CA 270!

Meanwhile, our boss Rob is tinkering with the ‘Flatplan’, doing clever things to the system we use to plan the layout of each issue, track the progress of articles and generally organise our lives, and our intern Roseanna is lending a hand with the news section, hunting for breaking stories all over the world. We’re always grateful for another pair of hands in the office, and it’s such fun sharing what media archaeology is all about with people who are as passionate about the past as we are.

This is the great thing about working at Current Publishing – we’re a small team but everyone has a unique and important role to play, and every day is different. Although I work for both magazines, because of where we’re at in the schedule I’ve been mostly focussing on CWA today. It’s great fun jumping between UK and international stories.

This morning I finished a two-page article about a site in Peru and wrote a fact box about Phrygians for a feature on Turkey, while this afternoon I’ve been sourcing pictures and turning around a breaking news story about World Heritage Sites for the CWA website.

Much like digging, you never know quite what each day is going to bring – but that’s what makes it so exciting.

Find out more – you can find Current Archaeology on Facebook here, or follow us on Twitter at @currentarchaeo.

Current World Archaeology’s Facebook page is here, and we tweet as @worldarchaeo. 

Meta#dayofarch Reloaded

As you may have gathered, I am one of founders of the Day of Archaeology, and one of the team behind the manic moderation on the day itself.. My Day of Archaeology started at 6.30am, when I began to read and moderate posts. I was still there at 10pm, hovering over the site like a worried mother, fretting about our baby. But what a resounding success.. we made 1000 likes on Facebook in just 18 hours, and I haven’t even seen the Google Analytics data yet – we had problems earlier with the server, as the memory was reaching capacity (or something, I’m a bit vague about that sort of thing).. so I think that means thousands of people are looking at this.. But actually getting people to use the site as well as contribute to it is very important to me. What is the use of ‘a day in the life’ if no one uses the site?

As Mike Ellis memorably said at a conference I attended in 2009 (and I paraphrase slightly) “saying that your information is avaliable online does not mean it’s useful and accessible”.. This really affected me at the time, and although I have been involved in various online projects that haven’t quite yet grasped this concept fully, I really hope that this website is both accessible, useful, and a demonstration of the future of public, community, participatory archaeology – call it what you will.

The DoA team of 7 people worked as smoothly together as if we had been sprayed with WD40. The 400+ archaeologists that contributed to the site were enthusiastic and fearless. No posts were written that were difficult to understand if you were a member of the public. As a team of 407 we done good.

The important thing is what happens next – OK, so we can do this again next year, and aim for 500 archaeologists from every continent… But the potential of this site as a source for campaigning, education, career guidance, dissertation material and so forth is immense. I want to know what you plan to use it for.. You can always find me on Twitter (@LornaRichardson), or Google+ (search for Lorna Richardson, I’m the red-head). You can even email me at the Day of Archaeology email address if 140 characters are not enough… but please get in touch.

My Day of Archaeology…

How meta am I? I think I win any meta competition. My day was not only spent moderating and uploading blogs to the Day of Archaeology site, whilst Tweeting and Facebooking about it (and sending emails and texts), holding hangouts on Google+, Tweeting about holding hangouts on Google+ and Facebooking about Tweeting about holding hangouts on Google+, but I have also kept detailed notes about my experiences of the Day of Archaeology for my PhD research. I am re-using a Netnographic approach (online ethnolography of sorts) to the days participation and discussion on the various social media platforms as far as possible. So your interactions with me and the website have been considered ethnographically (all anonymously of course). And these thoughts and notes are now stuck on virtual Post-Its on my laptop, ready to be written up into a chapter for my research that discusses the creation of an archaeological community online. I think the day clearly demonstrates the existance of an online archaeological community, willing and able to cross social media platforms. It’s not just about being found on Twitter, Flickr or Facebook – it’s about using all of these technologies to create a supportive and cooperative environment on the Internet where archaeologists can come together to network, share, support and laugh about the wonderful world of archaeology.

We done more than good.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making the first Day of Archaeology amazing. So, July 2012 anyone?

Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne (Conservation Science Investigations)

CSI Volunteer Richard Senior's raw gold and garnets

Investigative conservation of Anglo-Saxon grave goods

The X-raydiograph shows copper, iron and bone - decorations sewn onto a tunic perhaps?

Conservation volunteer Pat at the microscope

Today I have been supervising some of my volunteers and speaking to visitors at our shopping mall conservation lab. We have been running for nearly two years and have just reached 5,000 volunteer hours for investigative conservation of several hundred artefacts from 65 graves. We are on the last grave for this project – but there is still the finds from the other half of the cemetery to be worked on. Tomorrow we close our doors for fundraising for that project. fingers crossed that we’ll be open again soon! For general info on our community conservation project see a great video made on our opening day – and/or visit our website – you can also ‘befriend’ us if you like as we just set up a facebook page too. Volunteer Pat Horne says: ” Today I am working on an object that is really perplexing. It is a ‘blocklifted’ assemblage of finds from a woman’s grave. I am trying to discern the different materials it is made from (we have found mineral preserved bone and textile, possibly leather iron and copper alloy). It has become very fragile, so I am repackaging it to make it more secure before continuing to work on it. this artefact has to be looked at along with others in this grave. There are several with the same ‘figure 8’ copper alloy shapes. so imagination is working overtime trying to puzzle it out – great stuff!” .

Janice Monday is also working on a find from a woman’s grave: “I am working on a small object which, from the X-ray, appears to be minute thin pieces of wire bundled through a loop possibly of bone. there are three more baffling pieces associated with the main part.”

Both Pat and Janice have been volunteering at CSI: Sittingbourne since we began in Oct. 2009 (2 and 1 days per week). We have recently begun training a new group of volunteers (there were 80 on our waiting list!) – one of our new recruits has just returned from panning for gold in Northern Scotland… he popped in to show me some of the gold and garnets he came back with. I didn’t know that garnets were sometimes found alongside gold, when panning – we decided we should look out what is known about the sources of gold and garnets in the Anglo-Saxon period and I encouraged Richard to join the Historical Metallurgy Society to find out more about those iron age camps located at his ‘gold hot spots’ that he was wondering about. We also discussed him posting up his photos to our facebook page and staying in contact while we are closed for fundraising.

– Another day draws to a close at CSI, now on to other tasks, like writing a reference for a past conservation student intern and submitting a paper for publication in the proceedings from PARIS4, Copenhagen… that’s about my conservation work on an early Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, but that’s another story…

How can we reach the Public and Educate them?

Well there are many ways.  Here is one way–social media.  Im not a member of Facebook or any other such invasion of privacy but a volunteer set up a Facebook page called I Dig the Kolb Site.  It is a place for our volunteers to share information and photos and to keep in touch using the latest in communication technology.

Thank goodness for young people–the bulk of our Kolb site volunteers.


I DIG THE KOLB SITE  on Facebook

RCAHMS – Skills for the Future Trainees

The Skills for the Future trainees contributed to Day of Archaeology early as they were presenting a showcase of their work at an event at Edinburgh Castle on the 21st July and some will not be around on Day of Arch as they are taking a well earned holiday! Here the trainees explain what they’ve been working on over the past 6 months and their future plans.

On the day the trainees presented their work in various sections at RCAHMS including General Collections, NCAP and placements with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. The trainees; Dave, Nora, Craig, Kate, Bryony, Elaine and Tania have been with the Commission for 6 months so roughly half way through their placements here.

Dave Avery and Nora Noonan
‘Goings On in General Collections’
The last four months have seen us working with a wide range of archaeological and architectural material, the focus being on hierarchical cataloguing and best practice when re-housing archival material to ensure long lasting preservation. We’ve witnessed a major migration of RCAHMS records into a new database and have acted as guinea pigs in testing this new database, working closely with Collections staff to feedback our experiences. We’ve spent time in the National Collection of Aerial Photography digitising and centre-pointing as well as producing Feature pages for their website. We have really enjoyed working and learning from people from all over the organisation, the programme of work has been extremely varied and there is still half a year to go.

Craig Turner and Kate Cochlan
‘Mosaics, Documentaries and Field Trips’
We’ve been based for the most part in the NCAP department. We’ve undertaken a range of tasks via which we have slowly but surely familiarised ourselves with the photographic material in its varied forms – film, print and digital. We were lucky enough to be involved with the work preceding the Operation Crossbow documentary, broadcast on BBC Two in May, helping to digitise, centre-point and prepare the relevant imagery. Other activities have included learning about the surrogate copying process while working with All Scotland Survey material; receiving preservation and conservation training; learning about colour balancing and RAW image processing; going on field trips with the Survey and Recording department and spending time with the Collections department. We particularly enjoyed developing the Glasgow news item on the NCAP website – preparing snapshots of two geo-rectified aerial mosaics and writing accompanying feature articles. We’re both exited about the next stage of our training – working collaboratively to deliver a prototype package for a fresh and exciting new look for the NCAP website.

Bryony Jackson, Elaine Johnston and Tania Dron
‘French Verbs to Facial Hair’
We began our Education and Outreach work programme by developing resources for Scran – Features, Pathfinder Packs, and PDF supporting materials on themes relative to the Curriculum for Excellence. We were able to select out own languages, citizenships, battles, royalty, nuclear power, comedians, cannibalism and facial hair! We really enjoyed Scran’s variety and the opportunity to expand on our experiences of developing web content. Stepping from online resources to on-site activities, our three month placements with Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland started in April. This gave us the chance to develop the educational aspects of locations ranging across Scotland’s castles, museums and country houses.

Showcase Event

Some more photographs of the event itself in the Devil’s Elbow at Edinburgh Castle.










The Skills for the Future trainees can be followed on their

own blog at and Twitter page and by following the #SftF hashtag.


(Photography by Derek Smart RCAHMS)

Day in the life of an archaeological planning officer

I am Neil Maylan and I work as the Archeological Planning Manager for the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, based in Swansea, Wales. We provide advice to 13 local planning authorities in South East Wales and I hope to be able to provide a work diary for today.

I started my working day circa 7.30am. As part of my job I am responsible for the Trust’s IT network and e-mails, so my first job is to check the e-mails that have come in overnight, delete the vast number of spam messages that are sent to our open e-mail accounts and redirect any messages that have been wrongly addressed or sent to the open accounts and need to be answered by a specific member of staff.

I also check my own e-mails received over night, fortunately few today and read the weekly newsletter from the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) Maritime Affairs Group, which always has some fascinating information on an area of archaeology I really don’t know enough about.

A Day In The Life

So what’s all this ‘geophysics’ nonsense about, eh?

I went to a lecture by an archaeologist at the local university yesterday, and he said that the most important thing about archaeology is to have fun. And this applies to geophysics and, indeed, any career (except accounting, I would imagine). I became an archaeological geophysicist out of passion, interest and a genuine enjoyment out of the job. Each site always has something new and fascinating to learn, and the site I am currently looking at is no exception.

But before I can do anything… where did I put my bloody laptop cable? I misplaced the power cable to my laptop about a week ago, and I ran the battery flat last night (I am writing this from my desktop computer), so I am having difficulty processing the data I collected a few days ago!

No matter. Let me now waffle on for a while about my current area of focus. I am putting together a proposal for a geophysical survey of a nineteenth-century railway near Melbourne (Australia). A temporary (i.e. it lasted for almost four years) settlement for the railway workers was established alongside the railway, and there was even a cemetery which is known to have the burials of a number of infants in a paddock nearby. I have been asked to find the graves (no grave markers exist at the site now) and also to try and find the settlement (which is believed to have been just tents and timber houses for the most part. The settlement site is about 700 x 700 metres in dimensions, so is quite a large site. I have decided to propose a magnetic susceptibility survey, the results of which will allow a magnetometry survey to be narrowed-down (to reduce costs and time spent in the field). This research is being done simply out of interest, rather than as part of a commercial project, so funding is going to be scarce. But I am truly excited about this one!

So today I am talking with Heritage Victoria about the proposal and preparing the proposal itself to pass on to the client. In between doing that, and writing this blog post, I am also doing a bit of marketing (which is a daily habit) to keep up interest, and have been discussing the railway settlement site with the Hunter Geophysics ‘fans’ on Facebook. I feel that informing the public about my work is vitally important; it is, after all, their history that I am researching. Facebook is just one method of letting the public know what I am up to. I am also preparing a presentation for the upcoming Royal Historical Society’s meeting in Bendigo (country Victoria) about my recent work in another cemetery (most of my work is in cemeteries!) – I want to get at least half an hour of work done on that today, but half the trouble is finding the time. It might be a job for the weekend. Finally, this evening, I have a meeting with the Secretary of the local historical society – she has been a mentor since my high school years; it will be good to catch up with her.

Now, it’s the end of the day; time for a Parma at the pub. Oh, wait, damn; I’m not doing fieldwork today – no Parma for me.

Account details have been sent out!

As of 12pm on July 12th, account details have been sent via email to everyone who has expressed an interest in signing up and contributing to the project. We now have 244 people willing to document their day, and we’ve even had the first post from Maev Kennedy (Guardian archaeology correspondent) which will go live at 00:01 on the 29th. If you want to contribute, you can still sign up, just email

At present, all new users have been set to contributor status, which wordpress defines as:

Somebody who can write and manage their posts but not publish them

All contributions will be moderated prior to them appearing on the site,  so any issues can be fixed before they go live. We have instructions on how to post via the traditional wordpress interface, or you can use the wordpress application on your android or iOS phone. Later today, details on how to post via email will appear on the site as well.

If you’re interested, the map below shows locations of contributors where known.

The day gets closer!