I work archaeology, study archaeology, volunteer archaeology. Each day my archaeology is everything from reminders of the First World War to traces of Stone Age life. Here is a little collage of some of the things I was thinking about on 29 July 2016.
Hundreds of fragments of Bronze Age bronze objects, but do any of them join together?
Large collections of complete and broken bronze objects have been discovered buried in the ground throughout Europe. Here in Kent we have several examples including the large hoard from Boughton Malherbe buried around 2,800 years ago. It contains approximately 352 items but many of these are fragments. Today I am trying to see if any of the fragments join together. I want to know why these different items have been gathered together and buried. Were any of them deliberately broken? Were the pieces buried together? Why?
Most days I am studying archaeological reports on excavated evidence for prehistoric bronze casting and working of gold and silver. So I relish this opportunity to actually handle the ancient artefacts (even if through gloves), rather than just reading about them. Digging and being the first to see, to touch, to smell an object or a surface, a structure, even the bottom of a pit, that’s what inspires me. If I can’t be out in the field then examining the objects off-site is a satisfying alternative. There are so many stages of discovery in archaeology and these continue for years after the dust has settled on the excavation site. The detailed examination of artefacts is just one of those exhilarating stages.
Research is just one of the many activities I have the fortune to be involved in as an archaeologist. Take this week for example: for me it began on-site, digging with the Young Archaeologist’s Club (18th century archaeology – see Andrew Mayfield’s DoA post). This was followed by a Festival of Archaeology event at Knole House (17th century related) showing and sharing the tactile and sensory handling kit I have prepared for all visitors especially those with a Visual Impairment. Next it was library based research in London looking up metalworking sites (c.2500BC to AD 50). Today has been working on the Boughton Malherbe hoard and I’ll finish the week with a Festival of Archaeology event at Maidstone Museum presenting the latest results on the hoard, and showing some of the objects to the public.
And what did I discover today? Most of the fragments don’t join together. But there are two definite refits: a socketed axe and a socketed gouge. Should I let my mind’s eye imagine a Bronze Age procession of people carrying a fragment to represent themselves? The pieces of the community buried together? One thing is for certain, I keep finding more and more questions in need of answers.
Thanks to Maidstone Museum and Kent Archaeological Society, Allen Grove Fund, for making the Boughton Malherbe hoard research possible. Thanks also to the National Trust for the opportunity to make the sensory handling kit for Knole. Extra special thanks to all the staff at Maidstone and Knole for their encouragement and interest.
To my great amusement both my wife, Sophie Adams and I have been working in cellars today…I have been digging a Georgian cellar out, while Sophie had been researching in Maidstone Museum’s cellar…do read her dayofarch post!
For the last week the Shorne Woods Archaeology Group and the North Downs YACs have been assisting me in the excavation of an old cottage in Cobham Woods, Kent.
This work is taking place as part of a new 3 year Lottery funded project, Cobham Landscape Detectives. Beginning this Spring, the project will aim to tell the story of the varied and fascinating landscape, centred on Cobham Parish, Kent.
We have already spent many hours walking through Cobham Woods, with LiDAR printout in one hand and GPS receiver in the other! The LiDAR results have guided us to old trackways through the woods and many a mysterious lump and bump…not to mention the most amazing trees!
Medieval trackway running through Cobham Woods
We have participated in the annual Park open day at Shorne Woods to spread awareness of the project…
Our work in Cobham Woods led us to one site that seemed very suitable for the first community excavation of the new project…a demolished cottage that once stood in the SE corner of the old Cobham Hall estate…
Volunteer with window frame from the Cottage
With permissions in place from Natural England and support from the National Trust who own and manage the land, we set aside 2 weeks to examine the layout of the cottage site and recover dating evidence….
First day on site with the amazing North Downs YACs
I am writing this at the end of week one, after seven brilliant days on site, with the hardest working and most dedicated volunteers I have ever met (and in some cases now worked with for over 10 years!)…
We have identified the layout of 2 buildings on the site, the first is a Georgian building dating to the 1780’s:
The second is an additional building added in the later 19th century:
This second building survives much better than the first, with intact internal and external surfaces, full of finds!
The first building has suffered from the full force of the demolition crew that tore apart both buildings in the 1950’s, leaving a gaping hole in the north wall.
Newspaper article showing the cottage pre-war
Amongst the many interesting finds from the site is one rather special mug fragment:
It appears to depict a kangaroo holding a cricket bat! This is an incredible link to the wider Cobham Hall estate, as one of the owners captained the first Ashes winning cricket team in the 1880’s…could this be a piece of memorabilia depicting this event…celebrated on the estate by the estate workers?
We have another week to further puzzle out the mysteries of the cottage. Does the Georgian building’s cellar have an intact floor? What will other finds tell us about the owners of the cottage and the wider estate? What is the function of the enigmatic brick structure in building 2?
In a finale fitting to the day of archaeology, a spot of further research on-site today produced a lovely drawing of the cottage, presumed to show it in the first half of the 20th century….
Image from the Cobham and Ashenbank Management Scheme Report
To keep up to date with the dig and the Cobham Landscape Detectives Project, follow @ArchaeologyKent on Twitter and ArchaeologyinKent on facebook, as well as our dedicated, volunteer-run website!
I always end my day of archaeology posts by thanking the volunteers, both local and further afield, who make every project we put together possible through their dedication and hardwork…thank you 🙂
Volunteers hard at work on the Cottage Dig
I am a Community Archaeologist and work on a wide variety of projects. On ‘The Day of Archaeology’ itself I was preparing a session for Young Archaeologists Club for the Saturday so I thought I would tell you a bit about what we got up to.
The session was on Oral Histories so I did a presentation on this and we moved on to interviewing grandparents, parents and each other and continued on our First World War theme as well. I brought a handling collection in and we scanned some of this, I also brought in maps from this period and modern ones along with aerial photographs and they had great time comparing everything.
The rest of my work is extremely varied for example working with school groups, surveying, working in archives, excavating and leading guided walks to name but a little!
The Young Archaeologists Club’s 600 volunteers lead archaeology activities for more than 7,000 kids every year. We’ve just had a typically busy weekend with activities all over the UK, here’s a snap shot of what we got up to:
Busy day ahead! – need to sort out work placement students for next week (and today!), help Nick with the community dig next week, answer all those unanswered emails lingering in my inbox from earlier this week and maybe do some archiving!
Phone call from the curator at Chelmsford Museum with whom I had left a message yesterday. He sends through a new set of standards he’s been working on and I pass the info on to the relevant project manager so that he can let the site staff and processing know the particular requirements for his site (I hope!).
Tried to contact the contractor at the Community Dig about site set up but got his voicemail. I never seem to be able to get anyone on the phone these days!
Mid-morning and I think I’ve got the students for next week sorted now. Hélène (our intern from France) pops in to pick up her evaluation form – she has been brilliant for the 4 weeks she has been with us. She will be very welcome if she finds herself in England again and I hope her course goes well.
(yes I know he’s Belgian but the song is in French!)
While eating lunch put finishing touches to letter about next Young Archaeologists’ Club session and sort out sending some books over to MOL for a LAMAS function on Tuesday. Managed to eat a jam doughnut without wearing most of the jam – generously supplied by Patti who is leaving us today. The poor girl got stuck in the Archive for a while when she first joined us and we will miss her chirpy personality.
Finished off a few things on the Community Dig (yes I did manage to get hold of the guy in the end) and lined up some more to be done on Monday. These things are so time consuming but I think it will be quite good fun in the end.
It’s 4.30 and I’m now going to do some archiving!!!! AutoCAD site plans here I come!
It’s been a busy week here at Beatrice De Cardi House – recently re-named in honour of the amazing Beatrice de Cardi, our first secretary, and the world’s oldest practicing archaeologist, to mark her 100th birthday last month – and today is no different. As ever we’ve got lots on, and the team are involved with a huge range of activities, from managing the Young Archaeologists Club (YAC) and supporting young people to get involved in archaeology, producing publications, developing training opportunities and working with our members and regional groups, to campaigning on archaeological issues (both national and local) and everything in between. There’s never a dull moment!
We’ve been particularly busy this week with preparations for the Festival of Archaeology, which starts tomorrow (follow updates on twitter @FestivalofArch). There are more events then ever happening in this year’s festival, which celebrates the wide variety of archaeological activities taking place across the country, and to encourage more people to get involved in archaeology in new and exciting ways. For the first this year we’re also running a photo competition during the Festival, and have set up a twitter group for people to share their festival photos.
The new YAC dolls are also busy getting ready for the York Dragon Boat race, which is taking place this Sunday. 12 intrepid members of staff are competing in the race to raise money for the Young Archaeologists Club, with help from long-term YAC supporter Phil Harding, who has kindly offered to beat the drum and keep us all in time. Today we’re nervously watching the weather forecast, which has been steadily improving all week – fingers crossed!
It’s unusual to find us all in the office at the same time, and today is no different, but here are some Archaeology Day thoughts from team members who are at their desks today on the work they do, and how it all fits together!
CBA Director, Mike Heyworth, has had a typically busy week….
A central part of my role at the CBA is to act an as advocate for archaeology on a wide range of issues, both local and national. The CBA is at the centre of many networks across the UK’s historic environment sector – making key contributions to discussions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In particular, we are currently leading discussions on the new strategic framework which will replace the National Heritage Protection Plan in England from 1 April 2015, as well as contributing to discussions leading to a new Heritage Bill in Wales. Advocacy lies at the heart of the CBA’s work, representing the views of our members who all share our belief that Archaeology Matters.
In the last week the advocacy issues I have been involved in include the proposals for the A303 in the area of Stonehenge, the future of A Level Archaeology, the future of local authority historic environment advisory services in England and Scotland, the sale of antiquities by local authorities, and a new draft archaeology strategy for Scotland. So, as ever, things are always varied!
The CBA is also involved in the promotion of archaeology across the UK and with the build up to the Festival of Archaeology there has been a focus on media work to promote Festival events in key locations. Local radio and newspapers are central to this, and this morning I did an interview with BBC Radio Surrey to promote events at Petworth Park and other venues in their area. Helping to support local archaeological projects is another key part of the CBA’s work and we were able to sign of three further grants from the Mick Aston Archaeology Fund this week to support field projects in England and Wales.
With the start of the festival, the dragon boat race to support YAC on Sunday, the British Archaeological Awards at the British Museum on Monday, and a major Heritage Exchange conference in London next week it is going to be a very busy few days! All in aid of the CBA’s charitable mission to deliver ‘Archaeology for All’.
Our events Officer, Sophie Pointon, is responsible for all things Festival…
The Festival of Archaeology starts tomorrow, so today is extremely busy! (although thankfully I’m being helped along by my lovely colleagues providing me with regular cups of tea and bags of crisps). At the moment I’m updating existing events and entering last minute events that have come in today, as well as answering queries from the public and organisers. This Festival looks to be the best yet, with many exciting and unusual events (have a look at the website http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/whatson to find an event near you). I really wish I could go to the Boscawen-Un stone circle site clear up in Cornwall and the Archaeology by twilight event at The Museum of London.
As well as answering queries and updating the website, I’m working on our Festival organiser survey and writing a piece for the CBA newsletter about our upcoming CBA Members weekends in Suffolk and Orkney. Our Festival photo competition is also taking off, have a look at the entries here.
I’ve also just taken delivery of some quill pens and Viking replica coins to liven up our CBA and YAC stall at ‘History Live!’ next weekend. We’re also Woad face painting so I might see if I can practice that later on! We’re looking forward to the Dragon Boat race on Sunday to raise money for YAC. Just hoping that it doesn’t rain!
Our Listed Buildings Caseworker for England, Claire Price, deals with the Buildings Archaeology side of the CBA’s advocacy work.
Buildings AND archaeology? Yes, I’m one of those confusing above-ground archaeologists. I assess and respond to applications to alter or demolish listed buildings on behalf of the CBA. We receive around 4000 cases per year from local planning authorities, and today is one of the days where I take a look at the more serious applications that I’ve received so far this week.
What’s great is that when I open my inbox full of planning applications, there could be any building, anywhere, with all manner of changes in there. It makes for good variety in the week! I sift through the cases on a Monday, decide what I’ll look at thoroughly, and then I’m usually off to a meeting or to a site visit at least one in the week, and writing letters and assessing new cases on others. Today I’ve got a barn conversion, conversion of a stable block at Lowther Castle in the Lake District, development of a former pottery works in Stoke and alterations to a mill near Sheffield. I’m also going back to look at the rest of an application for the former Horwich Loco works in Bolton. It seems to be a week of quite traditional buildings archaeology – agricultural and industrial!
I’ll be putting some of these cases before the CBA’s Casework Panel next week, so they can advise on how we should respond. Aside from this, I’ve got my usual office tasks and a weather forecast to watch – we’re in the Dragon Boat Races on Sunday, raising money for YAC, and I don’t want to get wet: neither from rain nor falling in!
Tara-Jane Sutcliffe coordinates training for the CBA. Working across the UK, this includes a programme of work-place learning bursaries as well as a suite of workshops to build capacity in the voluntary sector.
Yesterday I attended a CBA workshop on widening access to heritage for visually impaired people held at Witley Court in Worcestershire. I was especially pleased by the focus of training, which takes forward the CBA’s vision of Archaeology for All. The day was organised by CBA Community Archaeology trainee Sam Thomas, who is completing his year-long placement with Headland Archaeology Ltd in Hereford.
My Day of Archaeology 2014 so far is being spent reflecting on and evaluating yesterday’s training day. What did attendees (including myself) learn? How can we take forward and apply the learning that took place? I’ll be filling out my CPD log, in line with good practice for continuing professional development; and I shall also be typing up my notes in order to share the learning with colleagues. The CBA actively uses social media to promote our activities. Today I will also be promoting the outcomes of the training day on Twitter and Facebook, with a news piece forthcoming on the CBA website.
Our Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Mort, is a member of our YAC team.
The Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) have 65 Branches nationwide stretching from Inverness to Devon, we also have Branches in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man with over 600 volunteers nationwide! YAC Branches provide hands-on archaeological activities and day trips for 8 – 16 year olds, Branches normally meet for a couple of hours once a month and provide brilliant sessions to inspire the next generation of archaeologists’. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and span a wide range of ages, our youngest volunteer is 16 and our eldest is 90 years old! Some of our youngest volunteers actually started off as Branch members and so YAC is a brilliant grass-root project, I find it strange that I work for the Young Archaeologists’ Club as I too was once a member of the YAC!
My role varies massively from day to day, sometimes I will be inputting all the volunteer applications sent in from out network of Branches or checking that Branch programmes and risk assessments are all above board and on other days I will be planning activity sheets and helping to organise any events which YAC/CBA will be attending, such as English Heritage’s event History Live. For this year’s stall we’ve had to prepare over 150 Viking Braids and 300 Thor Hammer activity sheets! If your around come and say hi, we’ll be in the main exhibition tent!
I also provide pastoral care for our hundreds of volunteers and I am always there on an email or the end of the phone to help them with any enquiries or problems they may have. As volunteering with YAC involves working with young people another part of my job is to ensure that all Branches comply with child protection best practise and that all volunteers complete an enhanced disclosure and have up-to-date certificates, this can get pretty complicated at times as there are different disclosure bodies in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland!
Every year we also run training events to recognise the hard-work of all our volunteers without whom the network of Branches would not be possible. At the moment YAC HQ are busy planning the next volunteer training weekend which will be in different locations in and around the beautiful Ironbridge Gorge. These training weekends allow us and the volunteers to meet and share ideas and learn new and exciting activities to take back to their Branches.
If you’d like to find out about a YAC Branch near you then check out our YAC Branch Map.
Our Local Heritage Coordinator, Tegwen Roberts, manages the CBA’s Local Heritage Engagement Network.
Today I’m catching up with my e-mails after a week in and out of the office. That may sound a bit boring, but I never know what queries and issues are going to come up – there’s always something happening somewhere! The network is still in its early stages, and is working with local groups around the country who are championing archaeology in their local areas. In particular the project is helping local groups to speak up for local authority archaeology services, which are under increasing pressure from budget cuts. This is something the CBA have been working hard to raise awareness of, along with other partners across the heritage sector. The majority of archaeological sites in this country are only protected through the planning system, and so it is essential that local authorities have access to professional archaeological advice to ensure that archaeological sites are either protected, or properly excavated and recorded as part of any new developments. Local groups have a vital role in speaking up for these services, and making sure that local councils understand why they matter.
The CBA also works hard to support groups who are looking after archaeology in their local areas, and I am constantly inspired by the brilliant work that archaeology groups and societies are doing across the country. Today I’m looking at the listings for the Festival and wishing that I could be in about 20 different places at once, there are so many great things going on! Partnership working is also essential to the work we do, and this week I’ve been preparing for a meeting with the Woodland Trust to discuss how we can work together on issues that affect both ecology and archaeology (including the Campaign for Ancient Woodlands).
Louise Ennis, Head of Strategic Development, is working on Home Front Legacies and the Archaeology Matters Campaign.
With less than a day to go before the Festival of Archaeology gets underway I’ve spent most of this morning getting back to journalists with details of Festival events in their region and uploading last minute images from organisers. There are some fantastic events this year – with lots more community excavations, open days and ‘have a go’ events for families than ever before, so it’s great to be able to help some of the local societies, volunteers and museums to promote their activities.
I’m also putting the finishing touches to a paper for next week’s trustee meeting about plans for rolling out our ‘Archaeology Matters’ appeal to sustain the work of the CBA and the future of archaeology. Good to see how much progress the comms team here at the CBA has made in getting the message up on our websites and member communications. Lots of exciting plans to go – looking forward to wearing our natty new pin badges very shortly!
After a swift cuppa, time to check the Home Front Legacy 1914-18 twitter feed and see what’s trending today that I can share with projects and groups. Looking forward to meeting up with other project managers and WWI stakeholders at the launch of the English Heritage London’s Great War Memorials exhibition at Wellington Arch next week. I’m also drafting a briefing paper for regional CBA Groups on the latest on the project, before dashing off to pick up a banner for the British Archaeological Awards ceremony on Monday at the British Museum. Julian Richards of CBA Wessex has generously donated the voiceover this year for the project presentations so very excited to find out more about the entries.
Time to turn my attention to editing our new legacies brochure before the end of the day – a busy week but good to be in touch with so many people who care about archaeology as much as we do and hopefully introduce a few more!
Our Finance and Admin team Peter Olver, Sue Nawrocki, Cecilia Tuvo, Tracey Lalley and Julia Johnson are also working hard behind the scenes, as always…
Their work isn’t always as visible as some parts of the CBA, but they are absolutely essential in enabling the important work that the CBA does. We couldn’t manage without them! Recently the team has been undertaking a lot of work on upgrading the CBA web shop and working on new membership database, as well as continuing to deal with a steady stream of daily enquiries from members, partners and the general public. You’d be surprised at some of the questions we get asked! Cecilia has also brought in some beautiful cake today, which has disappeared surprisingly quickly.
So that’s been our #dayofarchaeology. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading what everybody else has been up to!
Visit the CBA website to keep up to date with our work: http://new.archaeologyuk.org/
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Every day in the Council for British Archaeology is different. Every day throws up new challenges, whilst offering new opportunities.
As Director of the CBA a brief diary of today runs as follows:
- start the day by buying the Yorkshire Post on my way to work as I am featured today as part of the promotion for the 2012 Festival of British Archaeology. Quickly skim the article and experience relief that it comes across positively, though there are some relatively minor errors. The Festival is the CBA’s major flagship annual event with nearly 800 separate activities taking place this year across the UK. The PR agency is doing a good job to promote the Festival and there will be more media interviews to come in the next few weeks.
- first meeting of the day with colleagues to discuss the next stage of development with various information services that the CBA runs, including the Training Online Resource Centre. We are hoping to integrate our various information services more closely in the coming years to provide better value-added services for users to enable them to access information about archaeology more easily.
- after a quick trip to the opticians for an eye test, it is back to office to meet with a prospective volunteer who wants to help the CBA and gain confidence and experience to help them back into the workplace. It is good to talk to anyone who is passionate about archaeology and we are able to explore a number of options which may suit. I’ll follow that up later in the day with colleagues to see what we can offer. Volunteers play a key role in the work of the CBA and there are a number of ways in which people can engage with our work.
- time to catch up with the morning’s emails from a diverse range of internal and external colleagues. Key issues include following up on a meeting the previous day in London to discuss setting up a major new public participation project to identify and record physical remains in the UK which relate to World War 1, and also work on a new digital platform to promote the work of the CBA which we are hoping to launch in time for the Festival in July.
- working lunch with a colleague from English Heritage who is in York for a meeting at the University, with skills and training as the main topics for discussion. The Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers is hosting a meeting on the topic in York next month and there is going to be a focus on training in the 2013 Heritage Counts in England, with a new round of the Profiling the Profession just starting up to gather data on everyone working in archaeology at the current time. Inevitably these are crucial issues at the present time with the ongoing reduction in public funding for archaeology and the consequent drop in jobs and loss of skills.
- back from lunch and straight into a meeting with a colleague who will be leaving the CBA within a month to plan the best use of her remaining time and the transition to new staffing arrangements. The CBA has had a lot of staffing changes in the last six months, some due to redundancy and many due to colleagues moving on to pastures new. The latest departures provide further opportunities for restructuring to ensure that we have the skills and experience that we need to take our plans forward. Membership is a key issue for the CBA at the present time as by growing the membership we can broaden our public education role, strengthen our advocacy and achieve a more secure financial base. I hope that everyone reading this will consider joining the CBA if they are not already signed up!
- brief chat about how we can celebrate the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Young Archaeologists’ Club (which started as Young Rescue in 1972). It would be nice to do something but staff resources are stretched.
- time to plan for the weekend and yet more proof that archaeologists never stop as I’m off down south on a ‘secret mission’ linked with my role as Chair of the British Archaeological Awards. Our major awards ceremony is coming up and will include a number of surprises but all will be revealed at the British Museum on 9 July!
- back to the emails (which also never stop!) and my never-ending battle to end the week with a clean in-tray (no chance this week!)
- more planning for the CBA weekend event in mid September to follow upon a visit earlier in the week to some of the sites which we are including. I’m going to try to visit the only site we didn’t see on my way down south tomorrow. It should be a fantastic weekend in September as we take two full coach-loads of archaeology enthusiasts to visit Buxton, the prehistoric landscape of Stanton Moor, the amazing industrial archaeology of Masson Mill, the medieval castle at Bolsover and the palaeolithic archaeology of Creswell Crags.
- last task of the day is to catch up with other staff colleagues about the outcome of various discussions that took place during the day. The pace of work these days never seems to allow enough time to talk to everyone. I’m tempted to encourage people to go to the pub to celebrate a successful Day of Archaeology but I need to be home to take my son to scout camp!
- later I resume engagement with the week’s emails and finally sum up the day in this blog post.
Another varied day in the CBA promoting ‘archaeology for all’.
You can’t put down a good read. Still going through my pile of references and finding more on the Internet. There is a fascinating policy context for engaging young people in archaeology. It’s frustrating that archaeology hasn’t really engaged with the wider debate about young people. I can hold myself partly responsible for this as I was the Head of Education at the CBA, and was with the CBA for 17 years. I now think I spent far too much time sitting on committees and being concerned about the school curriculum. Ah well. There are plenty of good people in archaeology working with young people and I’m sure that greater political awareness will come about without me worrying about it.
I do think we’re far to insular in the UK and don’t look internationally enough at the good work going on elsewhere. How many here know of the World Heritage Education Programme?
One depressing statistic I’ve picked up today. 77% of media reports about young people are negative or unfavourable and that becomes 83% in broadcast media. I wish the media could see some of the work of the Young Archaeologists’ Club. It might open their eyes – but then they won’t want to see it as bad news is always more newsworthy it seems.
Right – time for chocolate.
has been as diverse as a Friday can be at the Council for British Archaeology: Young Archaeologists’ Club future scenarios; heritage crime thinking; Scottish planning guidance scanning; tv company looking for pubs with the arch-factor; Flickr group for IH@R tops 200 members mark; welcoming HLC on the web for England; and a review and chapter for a handbook still to write before Monday. Time to go home.