Sylvia Warman: English Heritage Science Advisor (London)

My day started with a train journey, during which I read the National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF for short. The NPPF deals with government policy on planning and was published following the localism bill last year.

I arrived at work and headed over to the venue for my NPPF training session. Having only been in my current job for a month or so I spend quite a lot of time in training. The session was really useful, pointing out the similarities with and differences from the previous policy of PPS5 (Planning Policy Statement 5). We focused on references to heritage assets and archaeology.

Over lunch I did a bit of research online, as at the weekend some friends had mentioned they were planning to visit the Museum of London and I had suggested they take a look at the Floral Street brooch (warning blatant self-promotion) as I had been the finder of this artefact during my days as a field archaeologist. I was pleased to find it is still on display so I sent them a link.  After lunch I caught up on correspondence, as I had been on holiday the previous two days. My job involves being asked many questions by commercial archaeologists, I don’t always know the answers but usually one of the other eight science advisors does. The first question was about lipid analysis of pottery. This is a technique whereby food residues on the inner surface of ceramic vessels and material that has been absorbed by the ceramics can be analysed to identify the type of fat present. Having ascertained that three university departments carried out such work I was able to get back to the archaeologist with the information quickly.

My next task was some preparation and arrangements for a meeting of the PZG, the Professional Zooarchaeology Group coming up on the 14th July.

This organisation was set up in 2005 with the aim of helping zooarchaeologists (animal bone specialists) from academic and commercial spheres to meet for support and exchange of ideas, techniques etc. Whilst working in commercial archaeology both as an employee and later as a freelance specialist I found the PZG an invaluable resource. Part of the upcoming meeting is the discussion of draft guidelines for animal bone work within commercial archaeology.

The latter part of my day was spend doing admin tasks, logging my time for the previous week, and checking details for the staff conference in Warwick which starts tomorrow.

My train journey home was just long enough to read, Life and death in London’s East End: 2000 years at Spitalfields. This was an excellent read aimed at a wide audience but delivered fascinating detail on the work done. I would recommend it to both professional archaeologists and all those interested in archaeology.