Somewhere Between Social Media Officer and Archaeologist

Over a decade ago, I sat down to choose my A Levels. At the time, Hereford Sixth Form College was one of nine colleges in the country that offered Archaeology. Having always been interested in history and Time Team, this seemed like an interesting option. So I took it.

Little did I know that I was embarking on my future career that would take me all over the world, challenge the way I thought about people in the past (and people in the present!), set me on the path to becoming a Doctor, and lead me to…

A desk in Cardiff.

From PhD Student to Intern

Okay, so that might seem anticlimactic, but I am currently on an internship with the History and Archaeology department at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum of Wales, which is incredibly exciting. My role in the museum varies on an almost hourly basis, but my typical day can be broken down into a series of coffee breaks, intermitted with serious contemplations that I should tidy my desk.

My desk on a good day

Interestingly enough almost my entire day has been taken over by Day of Archaeology and/or Festival of British Archaeology. I foolishly suggested a couple of weeks ago that as a department, we should contribute something to Day of Archaeology to compliment the various activities we’ve had going on all week. This somewhat spiralled out of control as members of other departments, including botany, photography and natural sciences, all expressed interest in contributing a piece and soon I found myself coordinating about nine/ten different blog posts, including manipulating images and Welsh translations, while juggling three Twitter accounts simultaneously.

Perhaps at this point some might consider me more of a Social Media Officer than an Archaeologist! But communication of research and ongoing projects is increasingly becoming an essential part of what archaeology has to entail.

10.45am is coffee time as an essential standard, where people from different departments and specialisms come together to share their projects, expertise and general gossip. As it’s Festival of British Archaeology, mine was cut short to help with a Behind-the-Scenes talk by Dr. Elizabeth Walker and photograph activities in the main hall. I’ve been helping with various talks, walks and exhibits throughout this week, ranging from identifying Celtic coins to building skeletons in under three minutes; today it was extinct cave animals and Medieval tiles!

A Medieval Tile collage created by kids today

Engaging members of the public with extinct Palaeolithic cave animals (one Bronze Age auroch!)

In amongst the various blogging and tweeting, I spent my in-between time uploading Treasure Reports onto the PAS website and researching Early Bronze Age axeheads in preparation for a meeting I have at the start of next week. There’s nothing too exciting so far about this latter project, but my research will lead to an in-depth handling and analysis of the objects in question in order to understand more about what we can understand about Bronze Age society from these objects. This is essentially what archaeology is all about.

Studying Bronze Age flat axes

As I write this, my day is still not over. I currently sit crammed onto a Cross Country train on my journey home to Cornwall procrastinating from the PhD work I know I still have to do. So I will turn my attention from broken links to broken objects, from the Modern Age to the Bronze Age, and from objects databases to… well, different object databases.

Fortunately for me, every day is a Day of Archaeology – and I wouldn’t change that.