A County Archaeologist’s Day of Archaeology

I am the manager of the Historic Environment Team at Cambridgeshire County Council, a post that used to known as the County Archaeologist. Being Team manager means I have to keep an eye on the workloads of my colleagues, especially at this time of year when holidays season kicks in. This means development control, countryside stewardship, financial planning and tracking and archiving, any, all or none of which can crop up on a daily basis. Today I have had to:

– Take a call and action a development site where the relevant person is on leave

– Ensure our Higher Tier response accurately reflects a recent site visit to a schedulable site, and that SHINE is up-to-date on this

– Discuss and commission two interpretation panels for a new housing development

– Begin a report form to HLF on our ‘Hide and Seek: Looking for Children in the Past’ exhibition (www.hideandseekexhibition.org.uk)

– Arrange for a fallen tree to be removed from one of the council’s permissive access scheduled monuments

– Chase up repair schedules on a council owned monument

– Book in student visits for November (actually haven’t done that one yet…..)

– Ensure the PAS quarterly claim has gone in

– Read assorted emails regarding ALGAO business (I’m the England Chair)

– Telephone discussion about the final completion and dissemination of the Cambridge UAD

– Confirm financial planning for 2016/7 is on target

– And so on….

Every now and again something comes along that is that bit different and really catches the interest. In this case it is a matter of identification of a World War I soldier from some of his possessions. This soldier died on the Western Front, and is recorded as missing in action; remains were discovered in the area he was last seen that strongly suggested they were of this person, and were handed over to the authorities.

For some reason the remains were buried as ‘Unknown’. Some more personal possessions from this individual were recently returned to the believed family, and the grandson of the fallen soldier contacted us asking for help in spotting any identifying marks on these personal items. So far our conservator has looked closely and several objects but has only managed to read manufacturers/makers marks. The search goes on, but it’s a good feeling to be able to apply your professional skills in an unusual and different way to help a local resident!

Quinton Carroll
Historic Environment Team Manager
Cambridgeshire County Council