And now for some highlights (and possibly some lowlights) from the life of an archaeological consultant!!
My description of my average Day of Archaeology is largely desk based but there are times when I’m allowed to escape the office and play outside! Such trips are either walkover surveys or setting assessments which form part of DBAs and EIA chapters. The AECOM archaeology team cover the entirety of the UK so can travel where required in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and we do occasionally stray into the Republic of Ireland too! So far I’ve only done site visits in three of these countries but there’s still time!
Each site visit is different to the last and each has its own stand out memories (although these may sometimes have something to do with my colleagues). Below are a couple of tales from some site visits that stick in my mind!
Mid September 2013. On the hills of the Highlands. Although I will never bemoan that fact I get paid to walk around some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland and look for archaeology and generally examine the landscape this was a new experience to me. My boots were no longer waterproof. It was windy. We kept climbing higher. And higher. We stopped for lunch. It started snowing – well sleet really but we’ll keep snow for dramatic effect. I was cold and not prepared for snow (aka sleet). My colleague looked across at me and thought that I was going to cry I looked so miserable. I wasn’t and I’m certainly made of stronger stuff than that!! This was a low point but it did get sunnier and warmer again so all was well with the world.
Not all of the site visits are in such glorious landscapes of the Highlands of Scotland unfortunately but this doesn’t make them any less interesting. Walking around a city which is not exactly known for its inner beauty was certainly an eye opener. The route of my site visit took me away from the many centre an along the route of one of the canals. Wondering along the slightly quieter canal paths made me fully appreciate the impressive industrial growth which occurred during the post-medieval period. It’s moments like this that make me realise how important our heritage is, whether buried archaeology or built heritage.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m currently working out on site for the next few weeks. This is a complete break from my normal days and it is fascinating. I’m currently helping an archaeological contractor in their finds “hut”, cleaning and processing finds from the archaeological evaluation. Of which there is a lot. A. LOT, Not coming from a strictly archaeological background this has been a real eye opener for me. Especially cleaning mud over what I thought was just a piece of animal bone to discover teeth – that gave me a bit of a shock! I’m really enjoying my time on site and am learning a lot about what it’s like on the “other side” and I’m hoping to be able to use this time to learn about how date and identify pottery. It might sound basic but for this archaeological consultant, with limited archaeological experience, I’m hoping it will come in handy for the “day job” on walkover surveys. Plus I’ve found I really enjoy making things clean and finding out what they actually are – I think this is my archaeological spiritual home!!