Long term finds person. Mostly involved in community projects, ranging from a Roman vicus & fort, a 20th century photographic collection, cbm, to various bits and pieces from York and elsewhere. The fun never stops!

Brick and tile, and hospitals

Roman roof tile

Tegula – fragment of Roman roof tile

What do I have on my plate at the moment? Not all of it is archaeology, but it’s certainly historical in nature. I am currently working on some ceramic building materials (CBM) from a site in East Yorkshire. This involves recording every fragment, unless very small and unfeatured:


*fabric (these days I just do a site fabric series, as I have no central series to tie it into)



*dimensions (only if there is a complete length, width or thickness; in effect, this normally tends to mean thickness unless there are brick samples)

*comments – this could be if the fragment has a fingerprint, pawprints, ‘signature,’ sanded edges, and so on

After this, I create a database from the paper forms I used to note down the information above. Much sorting of the database takes place, as I look for trends and differences. Then it’s writing up the report time, which is always the difficult bit …

While this is going on, I have other projects to keep on the boil. Looming large is an exhibition at York Castle Museum‘Home Comforts: the role of Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals in the North Riding of Yorkshire 1914-1919’. I only have a small part to play, having formulated a display board about the St Johns Voluntary Aid Detachment hospitals in York, using photographs from a local society image collection. Setting up will take place on 1st August.

VAD Hospitals in York WW1

VAD Hospitals in York WW1

In September, I’m off for another week in Ravenglass, cataloguing finds ready for sending off to specialists. And when I get back, I’ll be thinking over the results of brick recording in Cawood – volunteers will have recorded the bricks on local buildings, after I gave them an introduction to the wonderful world of bricks earlier in July.

Talking about brick in Cawood

Talking about brick in Cawood

Not digging, but finds and reporting

As a long-served finds person, my entry was never going to be about actual digging!  Of course, I rely on those who do the hard work on site to find nice things to look after, and occasionally I even write the finds up (especially if the finds are brick and tile).

This entry is about the recent Heritage Lottery Fund backed excavations at Roman Ravenglass, Cumbria, UK. There is a well known Roman fort, but these excavations centred on the civilian vicus just outside the fort.  Managed by Holly of the Lake District National Park, there were two four week seasons between 2013-2014.  The day to day on-site digging was run by York Archaeological Trust staff.

Just last weekend, the project came to end, at least for the local community who had worked so hard to dig up their archaeology. On the Friday when the Yorkshire Team arrived in Ravenglass, Lisa of Minerva Heritage was waiting to take delivery of the finds we’d brought up with us.  She then arranged them in the display case which has been placed in the Pennington Hotel in the village.  The case is therefore viewable for most of the time, and for free, to all who wish to see it.

In the evening, the Team, along with some of the stalwart members of the local community (Debbie, Leo, Brian & Patty), took the opportunity to walk to the Ravenglass bath house and see the new display board. We just happened to have a bottle of fizz with us …!  The board shows some interpretive reconstructions by Graham Sumner, as well as pictures of the finds and text about the vicus.

The next day, it was time for Site Director Kurt to give a lecture on the findings to a packed room in the Pennington Hotel. We had also brought with us a handling collection of the finds, which I looked after. In addition, there was also a print-out of the draft text of the site report for people to consult. When finally finished it will be available as a free download from the Lake District National Park website.

So, without a trowel being wielded, we were still doing archaeology on that Saturday!

Throughout the project, as well as being responsible for on-site finds processing, I also kept a site blog, which can be found here.

Hopefully, for the community, and at least some of the team, it won’t be the last time we’re out doing archaeology in Ravenglass.

Viewing the new display board at Ravenglass in Cumbria, UK

Viewing the new display board at Ravenglass in Cumbria, UK