Monthly Archives: August 2011

29th: A sunny summer day in Portugal.

At this time of the year there’s plenty of digs going on; it’s the time of school vacations, and many projects re-start their yearly digs. There’s also good weather for construction, so more archaeological sites appear throughout the country!
Well, I believe there’s a lot to be said about the days of doing Archaeology here in Portugal.
You may think not, since no one else here seems to be sharing what they did on the 29th…
And maybe that’s the biggest indicator, and one of my biggest fears concerning the state of our archaeological science: the lack of outreach. With so many reasons that can be found to justify the un-development of our heritage resources, is any justification valid enough to not do all we can to make it accessible?
It’s not an easy situation. And the current crisis will not help it get better in the near future. The good news is that slowly we are becoming more pro-active, creating more activities, communicating more, and in time ( and if our heritage survives well until then), we will have great sites telling great stories, giving visitors and communities a great experience and opportunity to reconnect with their past, and to evaluate their present and inspire their future with it.

As an archaeologist, I long for the field work, but these days I rarely go digging. Unfortunately, field work here means mostly going to a construction site somewhere and do “emergency archaeology”. Then most of those sites go back to oblivion, some are destroyed, and the reports and materials are all that is left for someday someone to read.
I still feel tormented by the fact that, after you dig a site, and discover so much about it, that information is going to only a few people, and most of the sites are left to be destroyed or abandoned.
So these days I work mostly at heritage management and science communication.
Hence, for me, the 29th was passed half in the office, answering e-mails and preparing some activities for children, and the other half at a national news agency preparing articles about science.
Maybe nothing particularly archaeologically special or surprising happened in front of me that day, but still, those are the small efforts and steps that archaeologists also have to take in order to make their science and activity reach further, to help spread the passion we have for what we do so that more people see the importance that our past has in our present and future.

Leonor Medeiros

Egypt at Its Origins – conference day!

Fun! This is a conference day – I love those! One of the best bits of being an archaeologist is sharing ideas and finding out more and more! Lots of stuff to get my head into and to get thinking about. And best of all… being at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. So the day started with leaving the family with the relatives and heading into Manhattan. And then a nice American coffee to perk me up! Predynastic Egypt and what is going on research-wise. It’s all about Hierakonpolis before lunch (ancient Nekhen). Some absolutely great talks – definitely things that link in with my research into the Predynastic population there. And definitely some people that I want to invite to give research talks to us in my department in Southampton. I particularly enjoyed that by Xavier Droux from Oxford – relating the symbolic burials of animals with power, control, annihilation of chaos. Wonderful! And then Sean Dougherty! Obviously great talk – cremated humans! And he’s such a wonderful presenter of material. I think Sean is probably the only pyromaniac human osteologist! One of the most dynamic talks ever!
Lunch was a quick trip for good old NT pizza slice and a sit in Central Park. Gotta do these things and get some fresh air before heading back into the museum. The afternoon started with the eastern Nile Delta. Alice Stevenson had the last talk of the day – always hard to be just before the official conference reception – especially when it is in the Temple of Dendur! But she did a fab job – it’s amazing what we can still do going through past excavation records and material. There’s so much to do – and so much potential. Can we link the records with the human skeletons? I do hope so – and it would be great to do it!
Then it was great – the family came and joined me briefly for the reception. Nothing like the reaction of a toddler to the monumental nature of Egyptian architecture – even if it is Roman! And baby was well-behaved too. Made it out to the roof of the museum – but then it started to rain. We’d planned to walk to the subway but instead it was a flag-down-a-taxi frantically end to the day with 2 wet kids! Great day! Reinvigorated in archaeology and Egyptology! Bring on the skeletons!

Shorne Woods Community Archaeology Project, Gravesend, Kent

Randall Manor Dig 2011

Greetings from Shorne Woods! From the 9th to the 31st of July, schools, volunteers, members of the public, local archaeology groups and societies worked on the excavations taking place at Randall Manor. The excavations form part of a wider community archaeology project to investigate the archaeology and history of the Shorne Woods Country Park. On the Day of Archaeology itself we were all hard at work trying to understand the latest in a long line of questions prompted by our excavations. How do the different building phases relate to each other? How many times was the kitchen rebuilt? Do we have a bakehouse, a brewery or even a smokehouse structure in the north east corner of the site? We have been running a daily blog about the dig on our facebook site and also have a page at

One of our youngest aspiring photographers on site has also taken a series of shots to reflect a Day in the Life of the Randall Manor Dig and I will be posting these on facebook shortly…

The manor site was occupied from the 12th century through to the early 16th century, with our pottery assemblage and historical research in agreement over the main period of occupation. The manor was home to a branch of the de Cobham family, who lived at the site from c.1250-1360. We have what we believe to be a large timber hall, it’s northern end rebuilt in stone, with an additional building containing a garderobe then built onto the main building. Detached from it all is a kitchen building with successive tile and then stone hearths.

Elsewhere within the Park we have a large scatter of mesolithic waste flakes, an RAF and Army Camp and the remains of a twentieth century clayworks. LiDAR has revealed an extensive collection of earthworks relating to all periods of the Park’s past, that we still need to groundtruth!

School group on site during the 2011 season

Heeley City Farm Community Dig, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

My day started at 7am, but I drove to the dig site shortly after 9am. I was absolutely exhausted and barely functioning on a basic level, but once onsite I’d be okay to a degree.

Gill as Finds Officer

Gill as Finds Officer

Why was I so exhausted? I have medical conditions which make my life challenging on a daily basis. Some people tell me I’m NOT disabled, but as my abilities have been severely restricted since I developed these conditions five years ago (including costing me my job at the time), I beg to differ. A nasty head cold triggered a balance disorder and associated symptoms including chronic fatigue syndrome, tinnitus, hyperacusis (sensitivity to certain tones and pitches of sound), anxiety and depression. Fortunately here in Sheffield we have an incredible Audiovestibular Department at one of the hospitals, staffed by very attentive and compassionate people. Not everyone suffering from a balance disorder is that fortunate. There is no “cure”, but a programme of specialised exercises set and monitored by a physiotherapist to retrain the brain into interpreting the signals for your balance correctly. Essentially, you’re being re-taught how to stand and walk and sometimes it can take years as pushing yourself too hard does more harm than good.
The hardest element of my condition is that I look normal and people judge me accordingly. I visibly lose my balance occasionally, but what people don’t see is me concentrating as hard as I possibly can to remain upright and avoid walking into people and objects. Due to the balance system no longer being automatic, my brain has to therefore think about walking and standing, so every task (physical and mental) uses up those limited energy resources very quickly. The problem doesn’t end there either – you may feel okay after a good night’s sleep. People with chronic fatigue syndrome don’t. After five years I now know that if I exert myself mentally or physically one day, I need to rest completely for a week in order to recover properly. That means doing absolutely nothing; no housework, no visiting friends or family, no going food shopping, no attending medical appointments, no studying. I don’t have a social life per se, as it’s too tiring. I visit friends and family at their homes. Chronic fatigue is cumulative, and those energy levels return VERY slowly.

Anyway, bored you enough with the background, so back to the Day of Archaeology:
I’m 41 years old and study the BA in Archaeological Studies part-time at the University of Sheffield as a mature student. I have just completed year 3 of 6, and for the second year running I volunteered my services to Sally Rodgers, Community Heritage Officer at Heeley City Farm, for the community dig during the Festival of British Archaeology.

Last year I assisted in the Finds Room with cataloguing finds. That was my very first time on a dig, and due to my disabilities I’d requested to be used where I could best contribute. This year I accepted the role of Finds Officer, partly for the opportunity to become more involved and to learn more, but also as being on a summer dig is a requirement for a module I’m taking next academic year.

The dig started on Saturday 16th July and had been taking place every day. What were we excavating? Victorian terraced houses. Boring, you might think. The local community would disagree with you there! The site of the farm was once residential housing built during the latter part of the 19th Century and we want to know about the structures and the people who once lived there during the houses’ entire history.
The Finds Room already had approximately 20 finds trays awaiting sorting and recording, but let’s start at the beginning:

Gill as Finds Officer

Gill as Finds Officer

Three trenches were opened onsite and the Trench Supervisors; Ken Dash, Jane Woodcock and Joe Page, would come to me and request a context number and recording sheet. Archaeology is a precise discipline. When recording finds and structures the context in a three dimensional space is essential in mapping the distribution of those finds. Without the context the finds are meaningless and have to be recorded as un-stratified. Every time a Trench Supervisor discovered a new layer of different material (different soil layers, rubble layers etc) or if they extended their trench I would assign them a new context number made up of the site code, trench code and a unique reference number. This layer in the trench would be labelled and all finds discovered in that context would be labelled accordingly. I also provided the Trench Supervisors with additional finds trays with relevant context tags where required (which was happening more and more frequently in Trench C!). Heaven help anyone who touched my recording sheets – including the Site Director – as I’d threaten to bite them!

The trays would come into the Finds Room where I would sort through them in turn, separating them into materials such as metal, wood, bone, plastic, glass, ceramic etc. Each pile would then be placed into a finds bag labelled with the context reference (as detailed above) but additionally a unique three digit finds number would also be allocated and recorded on the Finds Register. The Finds Register records the finds number, site and trench codes, context number, number of items in the bag, weight, and a brief description of the contents such as clear glass, or bone fragments etc. The bags were then set aside for later processing.

Pretty simple you’d think, but my responsibilities also included greeting members of the public who wished to be on the dig. My duties involved ensuring they were properly attired (suitable footwear and clothing), that adults were aware of the age restrictions for children, ensuring all participants had completed the relevant documentation including photography permission forms, and introducing them to Sally, Dr Roger Doonan (the Site Director and one of my lecturers) as well as Jane, Ken or Joe out at the trenches.
Engaging with visitors is essential on a community dig, and in the Finds Room Sally had created display boards of information, maps and photographs of the farm site throughout history. This encouraged visitors to ask questions and make observations, particularly the older generations who recalled living in the properties before they were demolished for a doomed relief road during the 1970’s. I would ensure these people were introduced to Sally so she had the opportunity to record their stories for future use and interpretation of the site.

Due to the number of interesting finds, I created a special tray and once those finds had been suitably recorded I placed them there for visitors to look at. This included two Police Community Support Officers and a Police Officer! Of particular interest was the button stamped GR for George Rex, made by a company called Firmin & Sons Limited (which was stamped on the reverse). They started manufacturing buttons for the military and then the Police in 1677 and are still in business today! As part of a research project in conjunction with Heeley Historical Society and the Hawley Collection at Kelham Island Museum, we had information from the Trade Directories and Census Returns for the addresses we were excavating, and we knew a Policeman resided in one of the properties as a lodger at one stage. Did HE lose the button? It was very exciting!

The day was much of a sameness with trays coming in, trays being processed, context numbers being issued, participants and visitors being greeted. The huge excitement was all of us standing around Roger’s vehicle during the morning whilst we listened to Rony Robinson on BBC Radio Sheffield. He’d been out at the site previously to interview Roger and participants regarding the dig and interesting finds. Sally was talking to Rony live by phone and we found some of the comments really funny, such as the “Knicker Hoard of Heeley”. A collection of lady’s underwear had been discovered earlier on in the dig, and this had produced much hilarity amongst the volunteer staff. You don’t have to be mad to work here – but it helps!

As the personal belongings of all participants and staff were kept in the Finds Room, I was also responsible for ensuring the security of the room. Unless another member of staff was present I would secure it if needing to go elsewhere on the farm site such as the cafe (which is excellent!) or the toilets.
The dig day ended at 4pm, but certain tasks needed to be completed before we could leave. I would ensure the large table where I worked was tidy, that all finds trays were processed in the order they came in, and that all paperwork was in the correct folder. All staff would close the shutters, ensure all tools and display boards had been brought inside and we’d signed out before the room was secured and the shutters brought down. My day ended at 4:25pm before I headed home to collapse with my cats.
Usually Rachel Walker-Higgins, a friend of mine, had been assisting me in the Finds Room, but she was poorly that day, and I would like to thank her particularly as without her help I would never have coped with the demands of the role. I would also like to thank Roger for his patience and confidence in my abilities to be Finds Officer despite my limitations; Sally for the incredible opportunity she gave me and her undying confidence that I could achieve what was required; Giovanna Fregni for her support and advice which proved exceptionally valuable; Rach, Jane and Ken for repeatedly badgering me into taking breaks to rest and eat properly; but most of all I want to thank all of them for making me take days off when my exhaustion was severe despite my sense of duty, and their compassion and understanding regarding my disabilities. They helped me feel like I have a value, that my disabilities haven’t made me worthless, and that I still have something to contribute to society and the world around me. An exceptional experience and one which will look amazing on my archaeology resume. I’m still recovering now!

Archaeology – It’s not just about digging

I am a part-time post-graduate research student at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and Vice Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society, a charitable organisation, which has been carrying out archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt for the last 129 years

The Day of Archaeology 2011, happily, fell on the same date as a scheduled meeting of the EES’ Board of Trustees: an excellent reason to take a day away from my largely non-archaeological ‘day job’ and to reflect upon my productivity on the day. Consequently, the morning started with some prep work for a forthcoming lecture and article before I travelled in to the Bloomsbury offices of the EES.

The Trustees, numbering fifteen and drawn from the worlds of Egyptology, academia and business, meet six times a year in order to govern the work of the Society and to consider and ratify the recommendations of the Society’s various task groups.

Sadly, I am unable to discuss the detail or content of our considerations or, indeed the cut and thrust of our debate. I can report, however, that attendance was excellent, with Trustees travelling some distance to be there, with one joining us from Italy via Skype and that decisions were made in respect of fieldwork, research, finance, publications and future directions.

Although it was a fairly lengthy meeting, lasting from 13:30 to 17:30 with only a short break—tea but no biscuits—I was able to catch up, briefly, with a colleague, who was there to use our extensive library. I took the opportunity to make some arrangements in order to progress the Society’s ongoing Oral History Project, which records the detailed reminiscences of senior Egyptologists for use by future researchers.

Directly following the meeting, there were some much-needed drinks in ‘The Duke of York’, the Society’s closest watering-hole and, as might be expected, the talking continued. In fact, without the constraints of an agenda and a ticking clock, there was an even greater opportunity to discuss some interesting and exciting proposals for the future both as regards the Society and in the wider Egyptological milieu.

By 19:30, dinner in Soho awaited and I headed off into the evening sunlight, satisfied, although there was neither sand in my shoes nor dust under my nails, that I had made a small but real contribution to the academic progress and public understanding of the archaeology of Egypt: a day well spent.

Further details of the history, facilities, and ongoing work of the Egypt Exploration Society can be found at:

John J Johnston

Moving a dune, eroding archaeology on Scotland’s north east coast.

The sand dunes at Brora, Sutherland, on Scotland’s north east coast, are over four metres high. Buried within them are the remains of the late 16th / early 17th century saltpans. Over the centuries, the wind had blown sand over the site, completely covering it until it became forgotten about.

Sand dune at Brora

Sand dune at Brora

In recent years, coastal erosion had exposed part of the front wall of one of the buildings, and on the Day of Archaeology, we finished machining and started cleaning up the site.

We knew that masonry remained buried in the dunes as we had uncovered half of a building in 201. Although we had seen the front wall of the buried portion, we did not know how much would survive.

In order to uncover the site, we had to remove hundreds of tons of sand and had spent the previous two days landscaping the dune. Removing the sand would allow us to work safely , but we had to make sure that the wind would not blow away the reshaped dune, so were replacing the turf on the remodelled dune as quickly as possible.

Machine stripping of dune

Machine stripping of dune

We were finished with the machine by 9:00am (the machine driver had another job to go to so started early, one of the benefits of long summer days up in the north!). The machine had taken out the bulk of the sand while we dug close to the walls to ensure that the machine bucket didn’t damage the masonry.

Cleaning site by hand

Cleaning site by hand

When the machine had gone, the walls plotted with the EDM, and loose of unsafe masonry was drawn, photographed and then removed.

Using an EDM for survey

Using an EDM for survey

There was also much collapsed masonry within the building, and once the machine had left, this had to be removed by hand.

Heavy work, moving stones

Heavy work, moving stones

We also spent time videoing Calum, a young volunteer who helped us out last year also, and had been inspired to use the Brora dig for a school project.

By the end of the day, we had cleared enough sand to reveal a small room, roughly 4 m x 4.5m, with a doorway facing the sea and a fireplace in one wall. While machining we had seen the lintel of the fireplace and it seemed to have initials carved into it. As we removed more sand from around it, we could see that there were further initials on one of the jambs; the other had nicks etched into its edge, perhaps where people had sharpened their knives.



The project had been initiated due to Jacqueline Aitken’s passion for, and concerns about, the archaeology of Brora. Jacquie remembers playing on eroding masonry (now long gone) when she was a child and was worried that Brora’s industrial heritage was being washed away by the sea. A member of the Clyne Heritage Society, she contacted SCAPE (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) and a joint project, (also involving the University of St Andrews where Jo and I are based), was established. Thanks to funding from Historic Scotland, a small bit of Brora’s past is being recorded before it is lost forever.

Clyne Heritage group members

Clyne Heritage group members

The best laid plans…

Well, following on from my previous post, my Day of Archaeology turned out to be rather different than planned. This is certainly not an unusual occurrence; working in archaeological computing in a commercial environment, all manner of things can crop up and cause the most carefully planned day to head off in another direction altogether.

Firstly, my LiDAR data didn’t arrive so that bit went out of the window. And a whole bunch of meetings were convened, so a big chunk of the day was spent planning upcoming projects and working on management topics. I did end up doing a bit of survey support, preparing some survey instruments for the following weeks work and helping one of the Wessex Archaeology fieldwork teams with a GNSS problem they were having. I also devoted some time to preparing a submission for a metric survey project which will include some Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) and some Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), a form of Reflectance Transformance Imaging (RTI). I also looked at the final specifications for another TLS project due to start fieldwork imminently. TLS is rapidly becoming the most efficient and cost effective means of capturing 3D metric data for recording and analysis of archaeological sites, structures and landscapes and one aspect of my job is managing such projects. I also currently do much of the processing, analysis and visualisation work on the resulting point clouds (and watch out for some videos of previous projects coming soon to the Wessex Archaeology Computing Blog).

A colour orthographic image of a castle, produced directly from Terrestrial Laser Scan data

A colour orthographic image of a castle, produced directly from Terrestrial Laser Scan data

But by far the best part of the day was spent doing one of my favourite activities: Systems design and development. I am currently building an integrated GIS & database application for managing and interpreting marine geophysics data. As with any good software application, it needs to effectively support the processes applied by the users, in this case the marine geophysics team. The data structure needs to be based around a solid and robust model of the information recorded; it needs to record not only the raw and interpreted data but the necessary Quality Assurance and metadata needed for analysis and reporting. I do enjoy this kind of work as it is creative and logical at the same time and to get it right, one needs to understand the detail and nuances of the processes being developed for, a good opportunity to find out more about different areas of archaeology (I have previously developed context recording systems for archaeological fieldwork, diver recording systems for marine archaeology and a variety of recording and analysis systems to support projects such as Environmental Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans).

My evening was indeed spent as planned finishing off a paper for publication. Whilst my main interest is in archaeological spatial technologies, I also have research interests in the application and development of data standards, thesauri and ontologies. My paper was based on how these various strands are coming together to support and arguably change the way in which archaeological theory is formulated, giving archaeologists the tools to discover information more easily and then develop more data driven theoretical assertions.

So a little bit different to what I had planned but I do hope still of interest to some.

British Museum International Training Programme : Facebook Group

The British Museum International training Programe  (ITP) , is a six week course arranged with several UK museums, in museology, art galleries. for experts, archaeologist and all students around the world.

Most Participants come from different parts of the world From :Afghanistan, Brazil China , Egypt, Ghana, India ,Iran , Iraq, Kenya, ,Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine , South Africa ,Sudan, Turkey, UAE and Uganda.

However, during the ICTP 2009, a facebook group (ICTP) has been launched to keep communication between ICTP participants, BM staff, and collegeus from other participant Museums. The group gives its members the chance to share their news through posting on group wall, and uploading their photos on the group. The ICTP facebook group has an international environment, with its 84  members from more than 16 countries, sharing different cultures and languages, but all has same interests in Museum Studies, Archaeology, and history…etc. Moreover, the group celebrated all kinds of events social and professional.

The group has been developed well over the past months, and it starts to become an excellent communication link between participants and a gathering point to all members. It also started a self introduction of itself towards further participants. For the first time, the group had sent welcoming PowerPoint slides before the beginning of the programme to both ICTP  participants of 2010, and 2011 and plan to send it Annually .

The group also developed and now has an offical e-mail:

where you can e-mail the group, and all of your comments will be automatically posted on the group wall.

We will be very happy, to see you on our group, to participate and share with us your experience in Archaeology, Museology, Galleries, and any related subject. : This is our link on facebook :


Its our pleasure to have you in our goup 🙂 Your Always welcome !!!


Haytham Dieck

BM-ICTP facebook Administrator

The end of a season: Teleac, Romania

An overview of the trench earlier in the season, when the weather was better!

The end of any excavation is usually an experience outside the normal routine of the dig; this seems to be especially the case in academic excavations, where many of the participants may have left prior to the final day due to other commitments. This was at least the case this year at the site of Teleac; a late Bronze Age hillfort in the Transylvanian region of Romania, run by the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin (DAI). I was taking part in the field school as a PhD student of the Forging Identities project.

Putting the magnetometer together to carry it up to site

On the last day on site we were down to a rather small team, which meant that I was the only student to go up to site, whilst the others stayed at base camp to finish tasks there, such as packing up the artefacts. I got a lift to site with the Bulgarian geomagnetics team; these guys were surveying the site with equipment that can detect differences in the magnetic field of the ground, which means that archaeological features such as ditches can be seen through their difference to the surrounding undisturbed soil. Since we arrived a little later than usual, we had missed the tractor which usually pulled all the equipment up to site; therefore we had to carry everything up the steep hill where the site is located by ourselves. This was facilitated by carrying the magnetometer without its case.

Drawing a section in the rain – hence the use of the beach umbrella to keep the paper dry!

Once I finally made it up the hill along the slippery, muddy track to the site, it had started raining pretty heavily. It was then my job to draw the section of a sondage; this means drawing the vertical face of the small but fairly deep trench we had dug in a corner of the overall excavation area, whose purpose had been to find out how deep the cultural deposits of the site went before reaching the natural, undisturbed soil of the hill below.

Back-filling in action

Once I had completed my drawings, I helped the local workmen (high school students earning a bit of holiday money by helping out on site) with back-filling the excavation area. This means putting back all the soil we removed over the course of the fieldwork, so that the site is protected until used again, and no animals or people can get hurt falling into the deeper parts of the trench.

Almost back at the modern village of Teleac

Thanks to the rain, it was no longer possible for the tractor to safely make it back up the hill to collect us and the equipment, so we had a long, muddy walk back down the hill again, taking great care not to slip or fall.

Back at the home base, various final tasks were being completed in between power cuts caused by the thunderstorm…

Pottery reconstruction in progress; these ceramics were found this year at the site

Artefacts and equipment packed up for transportation

Taking samples for metallurgical analysis, to investigate the composition of the bronze

Shooting the final artefact photos

Trying to interpret the geomagnetic survey results, and pondering the future of research at the site

After at last managing to find enough time between power outages to shower, it was finally time to pack my own things and have a last farewell drink with what was left of the team. The end of another good season, and for me – time to think about my journey to the next one!

A Day of Archaeology for a Freelance Zooarchaeologist

Sylvia Warman Cirencester UK

8.30 am

My day starts with checking emails.  I am signed up to the ZOOARCH email list, a superb resource which enables animal bone specialists to ask each other questions, hunt down missing references and even identify mystery bones. The first email is from a PhD student in France who has read a paper I wrote back in 2004, requesting a copy of my thesis. This involves burning the files to a CD, as it is too large to email. The second is a request for a paper I had contributed to in 2007 on an assemblage from Tewkesbury (Gloucestershire) which had included the skull of a lamb from a four horned breed (like the Hebridean breed of sheep still seen today).  Unfortunately I did not have this paper as a PDF (the preferred format for emailing) so I photocopied my hard copy using my handy printer/scanner/photocopier.

The next is from the local history and archaeology society, the council is changing the parking charges for evening and weekends and there is concern that this will impact those who attend the lectures that this group organises.

I receive several emails that include adverts for archaeological jobs. I forward these to some friends who are currently without work. The recession hit commercial archaeology hard and many archaeologists are currently out of work. Now government cuts mean that those working in the public sector also face the possibility of redundancy.

I receive some comments back on a draft report I have written for WHEAS (Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeological Service). The report is on an assemblage of animal bones from a Romano-British site in Worcestershire. Much of the county has acid soils which are not good for preserving bones as they are alkaline. So when a site in the small pocket of calcareous clay comes up I often have the pleasure of studying the bones. This project is a publication, but much of my time is spent on assessments. The latter are short summaries of the potential of an assemblage which are then used to help decide what further study is worthwhile.


The snail mail arrives – a parcel from WHEAS with some additional animal bones from the evaluation carried out at the same site (as the excavation assemblage I have already studied). I take the parcel to my lab in the conservatory at the bottom of my garden.  I quickly scan these in case there is anything to add to the report, they are very similar to the bones I have already looked at from the excavation, mostly cattle and horse leg bones, all very well preserved and stained dark brown from the deposit in which they were buried.

additional animal bones from the evaluation


I head into town (about ten minutes’ walk from my house) to post the CD and photocopies. I have lunch in town and then head home.


I read through the edits and reply with a date by which I will have them completed. Commercial archaeology projects are often run to very tight timetables so keeping the client updated is important. A project such as this one could have up to ten different specialists contributing to it both within the organisation and freelance like myself. The project manager ensures this all runs smoothly and that everyone has the latest information.  This project has been partly funded by English Heritage as far more was uncovered during the excavation than had been predicted.

I start working on the edits which are very clear thanks to the track changes tool that the word processing program has. This makes it much easier to work on documents that are emailed back and forth. I complete the text edits but the reformatting of the figure proves more complicated and will have to wait until next week.

5.30pm My Day of Archaeology ends