Day of Archaeology 2017

Day of Archaeology – Eclectic backroom activities!

Normally, I have set days for the different jobs and volunteering activities I am involved with, but on the “Day of Archaeology” they all merged into one day.     I realise that many of the blogs are about in depth projects, mine is more of a backroom activity.

I work 3 days a week as part of a team for the Local Heritage Engagement Network (LHEN) at the Council for British Archaeology, I am Rutland based so 2 days from home, one at their offices in York per week.   At the moment we are organising an event in the North West, where we hope to engage local groups, by telling them what is happening in the area with local authorities and heritage and explaining about “advocacy” and how how to influence decision makers.     I come from a grass roots level, working my way gaining experience through archaeological groups and societies, so the word “advocacy” needs some explaining to (I needed it), basically it is any type of engagement with heritage/archaeology, whether you want to be involved in supporting your local heritage sector by using the facilities, or commenting on neighbourhood plans for hertiage inclusion, to being involved with larger campaigns such as saving a monument from being destroyed through development.   The team had already been working throughout the country when I started, they have developed lots of toolkits for the public to use, so I am more of a facilitator at this stage, hence the starting to organise the event at Pendle on 19th September.

I am Chair of Rutland Local History Society, at LHEN we received news that Northamptonshire Archives were changing their opening and charging hours, this would severely affect the members of the Society as when the county boundary changed the records for Rutland did not move to one repository, they are split between Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Northampton.  For example the tithe map for a village might be in Leicestershire Archives, but the corresponding fee book will be in Northampton.   The cost of £31.50 with the reduced opening  hours makes a lot of the research prohibitive, and we cannot get the records moved to a closer repository which is free to access.  So a crossover for my “paid” work to my volunteering proved helpful in finding out more information.

I am also secretary of  the Hallaton Field Work Group, famous for their discovery of the “Hallaton Hoard”, we are embarking on another community dig at the end of August,  I set up the agenda for the “planning” meeting.   This dig involves people of all ages, we have a number of comforts to consider as well (BBQ, cake, real coffee) as well as  the usual logistics of a dig.   Having just set up the web page it is still quite a contentious issue as how much is “revealed” to the wider public, some of the members would prefer that no one knew what they did.    We have to be persuasive so as not to offend anyone, many of the members started fieldwalking years ago before the “discovery”, they have suffered from nighthawkers in the area and are extremely wary of any form of public engagement through social media and internet.

Finally, I have a family,  I have had to work around them with lots of part time jobs/study/volunteering, as the youngest is not old enough to be left alone, I broke it to him gently that he would be spending 3 days on the Hallaton dig before he went to school, and the sun may not shine.   He took it well.

A day with Macedonian archaeology – Demir Kapija

The development of the settlements and fortresses on the entrance of the Demir Kapija gorge

The geography of the Balkan Peninsula is comprised of many river valleys, ravines, uplands and passages with a great number of land routes passing through the region. One of the most important land routes traced form prehistoric times was the Transbalkanic route that leads through the valleys of the rivers Vardar and Morava. The valleys of these two rivers are spreading though the Dinaric region and they represent the shortest longitudinal land route that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Pannonian lowland. A great number of peoples with their conquests have passed through this route in the past. The importance of this section of the road can be confirmed even today with the recent migrations form the Middle East to Europe, it was chosen as the most favorable and shortest possible route by the migrants traveling to their final destination in Central Europe.

In Tabula Peutingeriana a map compiled in the 4th century AD, we can see the exact track of this section of the road. On the map, this section is marked as Via a Hammeo Usquae Ad Thessalonicam. In large part the section moves along the valley of the river Vardar. On the map the road station Stenas is located 33 Roman miles south-east from Stobi and 65 Roman miles north-west from Thessaloniki. This station was strategically placed on the entrance of the Demir Kapija gorge. The name Stenas is of Greek origin and its meaning is a strait/gorge. Although the name has changed throughout history and in the 11th century the fortress in the gorge had a Slavic name – Prosek (meaning slit or crack), and latter a Turkish name – Demir Kapu (literally Iron Gate), the same as today, all these names have a tendency to describe the area and the gorge.

This gorge is the last and longest gorge of the river Vardar to its estuary into the Aegean Sea and thus the last and most difficult obstacle on this road. The Demir Kapija gorge is in fact formed in the north by the massif Juručki Kamen, as an extension of the mountain Konečka, and the massif Krastevec from the south, as an extension of the Mariovo-Meglen Mountains (Kožuv). In the area where the massifs Jurički Kamen and Krastavec are closest to each other, a natural gap was formed in the limestone structure where the river Vardar had made its course. The limestone structure here ascends from the river up to 200 meters in height and leaves no possibility for any road communication. The gorge is a natural border between the region of the Middle Povardarie in the north and Lower Povardarie in the south.

Demir Kapija gorge from west

This position allowed the locals to have control of this road section which, in order to pass through the gorge had to climb the steep hills of Mal and Golem Krastavec or to around them. This contributed to the rise of powerful and rich settlements that could afford the luxury of the more civilized and developed south in the beginning of the 6th and 5th century BC. The entrance of the gorge was densely populated from both sides of the river, and according to some opinions with Athenian colonists. This position and the geographical configuration of the gorge itself was limiting the movement from south to north and vice versa and very early had become a border between the Macedonian Kingdom from the South and Paeonia from the North.

In the 4th century BC, for better control of the land routes through the gorge, two powerful fortresses in the opus quadratum technique were built, one of each side of the river. The archaeological findings in these fortresses indicate that they were part of the Macedonian kingdom and they existed in the period from the second half of the 4th century BC until the plundering raids of the Celts that passed through the Vardar valley in 279 BC. The Macedonian kingdom was weakened from the Wars of the Diadochi who fought for years over the rule of Alexander’s empire and could not oppose these, as Aristotle says, best warriors among the peoples.

The theory that the life in the fortress Markova kula – Korešnica has ended with these intrusions is confirmed with the layer of intense burning on the entrance corridor of the fort dated with coins form the time of Demetrius I Poliorcetes. We have the same situation in all pre-Roman settlements on the entrance of the gorge. The settlements at the sites Varnici and Manastir, as well as the necropolis in the area Bolnica-Demir Kapija, which is on the right side of the river, also at the fortresses Ramnište and Krasavec. On the left side beside the fortress Markova Kula we have the settlements in the area of ​​Crkvište, Kamen and the refugium at Markov Grad. The life in all of these settlements has ended in the first half of the 3rd century BC. In fact, there is a similar situation in a number of other sites along the Vardar River, such as the sites of Isar Marvinci in Valandovo, Gloska Čuka and Vardarski Rid near Gevgelija, Nerezi, Brazda, Varvara and Studenicani near Skopje.

After these raids, the settlements and fortresses in Demir Kapia were completely destroyed, and in the next several centuries, almost no traces of life have been confirmed at the entrance of the gorge, but also in the wider region of the Vardar valley. None of the above-mentioned settlements were restored until the Roman conquests and the reestablishment of a stable government. This situation was probably due to the terrible raids of the Celts, but also the long and exhausting three Macedonian-Roman wars, which led to almost complete depopulation of area.

Traces of life in the gorge appear again in the second half of the 2nd century AD. This period of prosperity, stability and road safety allowed a new settlement to rise at the entrance of the gorge, but this time only on the right side where the river Bošava flows into the river Vardar. The archaeological excavations indicate that a settlement built according to the urban schemes of Roman construction existed here from the second half of the 2nd century until the 4th century AD.

This settlement probably developed from the Station Stenas, marked on the Tabula Peutingeriana. This unnamed settlement was flourishing until the second half of the 3rd century when again it experienced the fate of the terrible devastation, this time from the great Gothic raids. During the great crisis in the Empire, the population withdrew to safer locations on the hills on the edge of the gorge, and some of them occupied the fortresses and refugiums that existed here in the past. After the crisis, this unnamed settlement / station Stenas continued to live for a short period with reduced intensity, before completely dying out in the first half of the 4th century, at the expense of the surrounding settlements.

After the previous events, during the 4th century AD and with the strengthening of Thessaloniki as an administrative and capital city of the Diocese of Macedonia, later elevated to the rank of the capital of the prefecture Illiricum, serious efforts were undertaken for the restoration and strengthening of the fortresses and settlements on the entrance of the gorge, and also some new fortresses were built. Taught from the great crises in the recent past, in this period, new fortresses were built hastily, transversely through the gorge, where an “inner limes” was formed that included a system of seven fortresses and one cloister, which completely blocked the passage through the gorge, that is, the transition from the Middle to the Lower Povardarie.

In this construction project, two fortresses and a refugium were built on the left side and four(?) fortresses on the right side of the river Vardar. From the left side, starting from north to south, are the fortresses: Markova Kula and Kula, as well as the refugium Markov Grad all in the vicinity of the village Korešnica. The line of fortifications transversely through the gorge continues on the sites on the right side of the river Vardar. Four fortresses and one barrier wall were recorded here. Starting from north to south, they are: the fortresses of Kula Podstralec, Ramnište and Gorni Krastevec near Demir Kapija and Kaluđerska Čuka, near the village Dren.

Markova Kula

The restored and the newly built fortresses and the refugium on the left side of the river Vardar in the 4th century, as the last defensive line of the passage from Middle to Lower Povardarie, set the foundations for the defensive system of the gorge. These, with certain reparations, modifications and additions, will comprise the defense system throughout the entire 5th and partly in the 6th century.

With the Avaro-Slavic incursions the refugium Markov Grad, although high on the mountain was the first on the line, and was not safe enough. That is why during the time of Justinian I a new refugium was built on the site Kale-Strezov Grad in the village Čelevec, secluded and well hidden in the gorge and separated from Juručki Kamen by the deep canyon of the river Čelevečka. This refugium was well protected from the incursions from the north and was more successful in the defense. In a short while the refugium grew into a fortress with a suburb and a separated acropolis. At the entrance of the fortress an early Christian church was built with an adjacent necropolis. During this period the fortresses on the sites Markova Kula and Kula-Korešnica served as a defensive line of the main fortress on the site Strezov Grad- village Čelevec.

Sterzov Grad

While the center of gravity in 6th century falls on the fortresses on the left side of the river Vardar, the fortresses on the right side offer no evidence of activity after the 4th century. The movable archaeological material from all these archaeological sites that was collected and processed so far, gives us no indication that the fortresses were used throughout the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages only the area of the site Crkvište-Demir Kapija was active, where an early Christian basilica was built in the late 4th-5th century and where there are still some traces of life until the 15th century.

From the end of the 6th until the 12th century there were no traces of activity in these fortresses and the refugium. Only in the fortress of Kale – Strezov Grad, after the last findings from the 6th century, traces of life in the 10th century were documented, with two coins of the Byzantine emperor Romanos Lekapenos. Unlike the fortresses, on the plain east of the gorge, on the left side of the river Vardar, small settlements appear on the river  terraces, with necropolises which date to the 11th and 12th century. In the middle of the 12th century these necropolises were no longer used for burial, and at the same time the activity of the fortresses on the left side of Vardar increased. This situation was also documented in the written sources from the end of the 12th-13th century and it was due to the great political, financial and military crisis that this area fell into in the 12th century, when it was under the Byzantium rule.

This was also confirmed with the archaeological material, primarily from the fortress of Kale-Strezov Grad, but also from Markova Kula, Kula and Markov Grad. The recorded archaeological material speaks of their intense activity toward the end of 12th and 13th century.

According to the data we have for the existence of the fortresses and settlements in the gorge, the activity in the fortresses was significantly increased during the turbulent periods. Such is the case at the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC, the second half of the 3rd and the first half of the 4th century AD, which also continued in the 5th and especially in the 6th century AD. Lastly, the fortresses were again in function in the late 12th and 13th century, and few of them remained active until the 15th century. The placement of the fortresses and their orientation towards the Middle Povardarie opposite, the area in the gorge, indicates that they were intended for protection against the danger that comes from the west, i.e. the north. Such increased activity in these periods points to the significance of the gorge and the fortresses built at the entrance for control and safety of the roads and the passage to Lower Povardarie.

Ordance Petrov, MA, assistant-researcher

Institute for Old Slavic culture


A day with Macedonian Archaeology – Arheološki Informator


“Arheološki Informator”

archaeological report journal

“Arheološki informator” is a report journal for the field of archeology and the other disciplines that explore and preserve the cultural heritage. Behind this project is the Association Menelaj from Prilep that primarily deals with research, promotion, presentation and protection of the cultural heritage in the Republic of Macedonia. The journal is published biannually, online on its website ( and its printing is envisaged once a year as a joint edition.

We are currently expecting the first issue of the journal, which should happen soon, and also the call for papers for “Arheološki informator 2” is underway. The association Menelaj – Prilep was established in 2015 and it is accomplishing its goals through the implementation and participation in various projects such as: “Maintenance, promotion and presentation of Arheo-Park Brazda”, “Ours – a campaign for the actualization of the cultural heritage, increasing interest and raising the collective awareness for its significance, as basic preventive measures for its protection “,” Kale Lokveni – archaeological excavations “, etc.

In the recent years, the scientific areas that deal with the cultural heritage of the Republic of Macedonia have witnessed numerous and significant research, but unfortunately, we must admit that in many cases the results have not been presented in the form of professional academic papers. The shutdown of certain professional and scientific journals resulted in the localization of the results of a large number of conducted research. The professional workers have faced a lack of “fresh” reference data of interest for the issues they were working on.

The flow of information between them, to a large extent, was reduced to personal contacts and communications. The solution to this problem was apparent, we needed a professional journal that would bridge the isolation of the results and the new currents in the areas that deal with the Macedonian cultural heritage as well as the authors themselves. On the other hand, the more frequent presence in the media, primarily of the news related to archeology, “provoked” an increased interest of the wider public about the Macedonian cultural heritage.

Here, the pseudo-science saw a chance to fill this empty space created by the inaccessibility to the true scientific and professional works with various “fantastic” theories. “Arheološki informator” as a project and an idea is a product of this unfortunate situation, with the primary goal of linking the results and the scientists and professionals from the country, and with a secondary goal, to make the research of the cultural heritage available for the domestic and the international public.

To maintain the level of relevance of a journal is not a simple task and for that reason a highly professional editorial board was created. The Editor-in-Chief is Elica Maneva, Ph.D. – a full-time professor at the Art History and Archeology Department at the “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” University of Skopje, the other members are: Bosko Angelovski, Ph.D. – senior research associate at the Institute of Old Slavic Culture – Prilep; Zoran Rujak, MA  – senior curator at the NI Institute and Museum Strumica; Ordance Petrov, MA – assistant-researcher at the Institute for Old Slavic Culture Prilep; Murgoski Aleksandar – president of the association Menelaj – Prilep. During the creation of the journal, a number of experts were consulted and the editorial board would like to thank them for the unreserved support and the constructive advices and remarks.

During the preparations, we wanted to emphasize the spirit of the time in which we live in as a particularly important factor for the quality and the further success of the journal. The Internet, and with it, the easier and faster access to information enabled a more detailed look into the issues that affect large geographical regions. Thus, the need for information about the research results and the new trends in the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Republic of Macedonia was also felt outside the country borders. For this reason, the magazine is published primarily online and bilingual, that is, on Macedonian and English.

The quantity of existing, but unpublished professional materials entailed in this stage, the electronic form of the journal to be published twice a year. For the online version of “Arheološki informator”, a web site ( was created through the Open Journal System developed by the Public Knowledge Project. Thus, on the one hand the authors would be easily informed about the form of the requested papers, as well as the way that they should be submitted, and on the other hand the readers would get a free preview and download of the current and previous issues of the journal. However, a printed version of the journal as a joint edition is also envisaged, which will be issued once a year, after the publishing of the first two numbers.

The informative character of the journal entailed that it covers a wide range of topics related to the cultural heritage of Macedonia, such as: reports from archeological field and laboratory research; presentations of significant individual and group findings; reports from conservation and restoration research; reports from surveys; book reviews; presentations of master and doctoral theses; presentations of conferences, symposiums and other scientific gatherings, as well as bibliographies of colleagues or on a specific issues. The deadlines for submitting the papers are fixed on May 31 and November 30 in the current year.

The association Menelaj – Prilep, with the project “Arheološki informator” was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia. While this represents a kind of affirmation of this idea, the need for such a journal is also confirmed by the 26 authors who responded to the call for papers for the first issue of the journal and submitted their papers. The first issue of the journal is at its final stage and its publication is expected soon. At the same time, the call for papers for the second issue of the journal is active, and its publication is planned at the end of the year.

The editorial board of the journal “Arheološki informator” believes that the idea and the diligence of the journal will contribute to the development of the scientific thought, oriented towards the past of the Republic of Macedonia and reflected in the country’s cultural heritage. For this reason, we encourage the authors for mutual cooperation through, at the moment, the only professional journal of this kind in Macedonia, which enables them to receive international affirmation and to engage in the discussions oriented towards the larger geographical regions that cover the territory of R. Macedonia as well.


Aleksandar Murgoski

Menelaj – Prilep



Beachfront archaeology in the Las Vegas of the North

This year’s Festival of Archaeology saw me in the Las Vegas of the North recceing several features to the north of Blackpool. The intertidal zone, where CITiZAN carries out much of its training is a dynamic environment that can change rapidly, sometimes overnight.  As a result a large portion of the training archaeologists’ job for CITiZAN involves investigating stretches of beach to see if they’re fun for volunteers to visit and making sure that that interesting feature you saw a year ago is still visible today. Happily Blackpool has a wonderful tramline, so I could leave the van at home and travel to site in a little more style.

Historic trams ply Blackpool seafront, just as they would have 100 years ago

Top of the list of features to visit on the day was the remains of a 19th century pier that consists of the timber piles, scattered wrought iron beams and several A-shaped ladders that originally formed a landing spot for ships. It’s a fantastic feature to show our volunteers how to carry out off-sets plans, use an automatic level and take archaeological photographs, all classic field skills transferable to any excavation, wet or dry.  Unfortunately the section of beach on which the pier is located is closed while a large scale bathing water improvement scheme is finished. (Something not mentioned by the landowner when we were negotiating access to the area earlier in the month.)  Optimistically though the feature is only just within the beach exclusion zone, the piles rise tantalizingly out of the sand twenty or so metres away and they don’t seem very close to the main area of works.

Just out of reach: the collapsed Victorian jetty rises out of the sand on the right of the photo

Perhaps we can negotiate access to the feature on a Sunday, when the site’s probably not working.  That’s something to go on the list for Monday morning though, as time and tide don’t wait for archaeologists; so for now it’s on to the second feature of the visit, a prehistoric peatshelf.  This is possibly the same peatshelf identified on Cleveleys’s foreshore in 1980, dated to the Early Holocene (12,000-7,000 BP) and referenced in Historic England’s peat database (Hazell 2008, 3).  Several peatshelves can be exposed on the foreshore at the same time, all dating to different periods and without any sort of location information it’s difficult to know if what I’m looking for is the same ancient land surface seen in the ’80’s.  But hopefully I can find the peatshelf again and we can get permission to carry out some environmental sampling, date the peatshelf and flesh out a little more detail on what the wider landscape looked like in the past.

One of the joys of working on the foreshore is that with every low tide your site can and frequently does change, with the tide moving sands, silts and mud around exposing new features or more of what you were looking at yesterday. But what the tide can expose, it can also cover up and when I get to the co-ordinates of the peatshelf there was nothing but sand, the feature had been completed covered after out last visit.  CITiZAN aims to be a non-intrusive project, doing as little excavation as possible, allowing erosion to largely uncover the features we look at; nature’s trowel as the boss would say.  A few hundred metres further north and closer to the low tide mark a new area of peatshelf appeared to have been exposed though, so this becomes the third feature to visit. Happily the newly exposed landsurface is larger than the original feature and contained remains of a submerged forest, including root systems, tree stumps and recumbent trunks.  These features are located close to mean low water and although it was only an hour after low tide the feature was already starting to be covered by the sea.  When we come back to do some more investigating the tidal window for the work will be narrow.

A prehistoric landscape on the edge of the tideline

With the tide starting to raise it’s off to the fourth feature of the morning, the wreck of a wooden vessel called the Abana a feature CITiZAN hadn’t visited before.  The Abana was a Norwegian barque built in 1874 and lost in 1894 (CITiZAN feature 65294), walking towards her it was clear the Abana would be an excellent feature to record with extant hull planking and frames.  But I got distracted by the new peatshelf and the water around the Abana is getting too deep to wade through safely, so this wreck will have to wait for a return visit.

What does an intertidal archaeologist do at high tide, once the sea has covered your features in several metres of water?  In the Las Vegas of the North it can only mean two things: pleasure piers and fun rides.  Blackpool’s first train station was built in 1846 and by 1879 almost a million people a year arrived by train to enjoy the town’s attractions, by the early 20th Century this had grown to almost 4 million annual visitors (Brodie and Whitfield 2014, 51).  Over the years since the arrival of the railways the town has built numerous attractions to entertain its visitors, many of which are now Listed by Historic England like the Big Dipper and Blue Flyer roller-coasters in the Pleasure Beach and the iconic Blackpool Tower.  So it’s time to make like the masses and head to the promenade for some historic fun.


The oldest of Blackpool’s three piers was built in 1863 and is the oldest surviving design of master pier builder Eugenius Birch

Hope to see you at the seaside soon too!

Come join CITiZAN on the foreshore for some intertidal archaeology

LES RUPESTRES 2.0: Une vision artistique de l’archéologie

By Catherine Vasseur

Je suis photographe amateur et passionnée d’histoire.

Par ces photos, j’ai voulu créer un pont entre la vie humaine avant J-C soit 36000 ans et notre vie en 2017.

Avec des tissus d’aujourd’hui, du plastique et un ordinateur, j’invente ma propre perception de l’archéologie avec mes émotions, ma réflexion, mon vécu. Enfant, j’accompagnais mes parents lors de fouilles gallo-romaines à Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (Drôme-France). Je grimpais la colline pour chercher les dents de requins…

En toute humilité, bien sûr,
Je me suis inspirée de la Restitution de la Caverne du Pont d’Arc (Ardèche-France).
Je vous remercie de me lire,

La comunicación como herramienta para concienciar sobre la necesidad de preservar el patrimonio arqueológico

Elisa Pereira (Asociación Costa dos Castros)


En la Asociación Costa dos Castros desarrollamos distintas actividades orientadas hacia el conocimiento, la puesta en valor y difusión del importante patrimonio arqueológico que existe en el municipio de Oia (Galicia-España). Para ello, programamos iniciativas que van desde intervenciones arqueológicas y acciones divulgativas hasta campañas de comunicación a través de diversos canales.

Este esfuerzo en materia de comunicación persigue varios objetivos, entre los que destacan:

-Difundir la riqueza patrimonial de Oia.

-Visibilizar el compromiso con el patrimonio que mantienen las comunidades de montes vecinales en mano común que forman parte de la Asociación.

-Sensibilizar a la sociedad sobre la necesidad de preservar los bienes arqueológicos.

Para ello, realizamos publicaciones en redes sociales, actualizaciones en nuestro blog, difundimos notas de prensa y mantenemos relaciones fluidas con los medios de comunicación, entre otras iniciativas.

Como ejemplo de este esfuerzo en el campo de la comunicación, el Día de la Arqueología (el pasado 28 de julio) un diario local publicaba un reportaje sobre una de nuestras últimas actuaciones: unos trabajos de limpieza de vegetación con control arqueológico en una zona de monte comunal (O Viveiro) que alberga una gran cantidad de petroglifos.

La actuación arqueológica, promovida por la Comunidad de Montes Vecinales en Mano Común de Pedornes y financiada a través de una campaña de crowdfunding, ha supuesto mejoras en la accesibilidad y seguridad de la zona, al tiempo que ha permitido localizar 9 grabados hasta el momento desconocidos.


Con motivo de estos trabajos de limpieza, que han estado supervisados por la arqueóloga Elisa Pereira, también se ha analizado el estado actual de los distintos grabados. Entre ellos destaca el panel rupestre conocido como Auga dos Cebros: el único petroglifo conocido en la Europa atlántica donde aparece representada una embarcación de tipología mediterránea del segundo milenio antes de Cristo. Se trata de un elemento excepcional y de gran fragilidad que es necesario preservar para que las próximas generaciones puedan seguir disfrutando de él.

A través de la difusión de este tipo de contenidos en las redes sociales, medios de comunicación y visitas guiadas en grupos reducidos queremos concienciar a la sociedad sobre la importancia de conocer, respetar y cuidar este legado milenario. Es decir, creemos en la comunicación como herramienta para convertir a vecinos y visitantes en auténticos guardianes del patrimonio.


Poo from the Past: A Week of Archaeology Themed Fun at the Oak House Museum

By Rebecca Butler

Visitor Service Officer, Oak House, Sandwell Museum Service

To fit in with this years ‘Day of Archaeology’ staff at Oak House Museum in West Bromwich, decided to put on a week of activities all with an archaeology theme.

We set up an excavation next to our shipwreck playground. Children were given the opportunity to dig around the excavation site to find coins, pottery sherds and even bits of flint! Once they had their finds they took them to the ‘finds washing station’, gave them a good clean and then discussed what they had found with staff to decide which finds tray they belonged in dependent upon the object, its size and the material it was made out of.

After this, they were told that the Oak House staff had discovered a latrine full of coprolites, and they needed help with post-excavation analysis. Using special tools children carefully excavated the coprolites and recorded their finds on finds sheets. They then looked at the ‘Poos from the Past’ fact sheets in order to determine if they had discovered Roman persons Poo or a Tudor Persons Poo. It gave staff an opportunity to talk about diet and the different food people ate.

We also gave a tour of our site with a focus on standing building archaeology. This was well received by parents and children.

Both children and their parents had lots of fun and we received lots of good feedback from parents on the day. Overall it was a successful week of Archaeology at The Oak House Museum. For more information about our up-coming events visit our website