#ArchiveLottery 2016 part 2: Registered Finds

Now it’s time for the sexy objects, selected at some point in the past to have their own individual finds number.

To get us going how about this tip top medieval shoe from 1982’s Billingsgate  excavations. @ImAnitaSharma helped us find this by tweeting us shelf 170


This incredible piece of medieval ship was generated from shelf 352. thanks to @OldLadyBedtime for this. It comes from 1988 excavations at Gun & Shot Wharf


Also this hour we’ve had a creepy Victorian doll


and how about this tiny saxon bead


Not forgetting this doughnut shaped saxon loomweight


Thanks to @DominikaErazmus, @@bolshie_walshy, & @Kath_Creed for selecting these

Next it’s our Environmental Finds Archive. These are typically extremely small objects that take up little space (hence the small shelf range) and include objects such as seeds, pollen and small animal bones etc. Tweet me @AdamCorsini using #ArchiveLottery & a number between 1 and 40 to discover, completely at random, what that shelf holds… who’s going to be the first to get a coprolite?

#ArchiveLottery 2016 – part 1: General Finds

It’s great to be back and what a start we’ve had to this year’s #ArchiveLottery.

Our first object was from @lornarichardson and their choice of shelf 397 generated this amazingstoneware bottle


Also in the past hour we’ve had some flint from shelf 310 (thanks to former Archive digital records office @andyfev for this)


And one of our favourite items has been this roman strainer from Brockley Hill (shelf 4). Thanks to @Colmuseum’s @Jess_Dowdell for this one


Next up it’s our Registered finds: objects assigned an individual number (akin to an museum accession number) because they are of particular interest.  Tweet @AdamCorsini using with #ArchiveLottery and a number between 1 and 500 to discover, completely at random, what that shelf holds… – and we’ll post back our results around 1pm

#ArchiveLottery 2016 part 5 – paper records

To wrap up the day it’s time for my favourite section – the archaeological records.

In among our items this hour have been:

A photo of The head of Serapis from the Temple of Mithras excavations


A nice photo of an archaeologist’s backside

bum in air

A skeleton recording sheet from the Royal Mint site

skelton recording sheet

And a great graffiti covered front cover to a small finds notebook from Aldgate excavations

small finds

A massive thanks to everyone who offered a number today and joined in with our #ArchiveLottery.

Have a great #DayOfArch and hope to see you on a visit to the Archive store soon ?

#ArchiveLottery 2016 part 4: metals

We’ve having fun and hope you are too. Here’s the metal objects that your random shelf numbers have found for us.

Lead-ing the way is this fantastic pilgrim badge from shelf 253. Thanks to @Lucinda_Dixon for picking this number.


Check out this finger ring from excavations at Hay’s Dock which was chosen via @the_deku_scrub’s shelf number, 365


There’s obviously been this – Iron nails feature heavily in our metal store but really, our own @Kath_Creed should have known better


And how about this to get you excited….


We’re still uncertain whether it’s a potter’s tool (It is from Lambeth close to the area’s pottery workshops…) or whether its a pastry jigger. What do you think? Either way, nice one @amelia_dowler for selecting shelf 300 to get this one.

And of course how could we do a metal store #ArchiveLottery without some unfortunate person getting this:


Metals were fun (lots more if you search for #ArchiveLottery on twitter), but stick with us as it’s time for the most important bit of the archive – the paper records!!! Tweet me @AdamCorsini using the hashtag #ArchiveLottery with a number between 1 and 431

#ArchiveLottery 2016 part 3: environmental finds

One of my favourite #ArchiveLottery sections, it’s time to go small.

Included in this hour has been some fish bone

fish bone

and then there was some fruit seeds


and we’ve also seen some nut shells

nut shell

Fire up the barbie as we also had some charcoal


and thanks to @BodCons we also picked a coprolite! Poop!


And they were very pleased 🙂

poop praise

Time for the metals! These objects are stored separately. A dehumidified store, sealed boxes and silica gel help us maintain these objects to a high degree of preservation as they’d slowly degrade in normal room conditions. Tweet me@AdamCorsini using #ArchiveLottery & a number between 1 and 500 to discover, completely at random, what that shelf holds…

An ‘Archaeological Anneka Rice’: A treasure hunt at the Museum of London archive

Dig for Victory

Dig for Victory

It feels a bit strange writing a post for the ‘Day of Archaeology’ when I am not an archaeologist. I am a volunteer, I am not studying to become an archaeologist and I am not in training to become an archaeologist, I have had a trowel in my hand once for a couple of hours and all I came up with was a worm, some stones, sore knees and a bad back. I don’t think I am cut out to be an archaeologist. But I do occasionally volunteer at the Museum of London archaeological archive – LAARC (London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre) and today was one of those days.

My own unsuccessful attempts at a 'dig'

My own unsuccessful attempts at a ‘dig’

I guess a lot of posts on this website are about a typical day, but this has been far from a normal day for me, it has been a glorious, busy, fun filled abnormal day. I have been helping out Adam Corsini with the ‘Archive Lottery’, a magical random archaeological day of discovery. Members of the public, via Twitter, tweet a shelf number and Adam tweets back a picture of an item from one of the boxes on that numbered shelf in the archive. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Unless of course you are the person running around getting the boxes (that would be me). I won’t write any more about the lottery here, you can read about it in more detail in the posts Adam put up on this site along with the results of all those uncovered boxes.

I will write about my day as an archaeological archive treasure hunter, my thoughts on a day of volunteering surrounded by archaeology. When I first came to the archive to volunteer in 2013, I worked on repackaging finds from a Roman villa site in Keston, south-east of London. My days were spent putting old objects in new bags with new labels, packaging and boxes. Caring for the objects, making more room in the archive, learning about my Roman ancestors. I would spend ten minutes on one bag, I would ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over one small sherd of broken pot, a box would take me an hour, a slow, thorough, measured process. It was a new experience handling archaeology, dirty broken pots and I loved every minute of it.

Today has seen me running around like an ‘Archaeological Anneka Rice’, a list of shelf numbers in my hand, up and down the aisles, on tip toe and on my knees, boxes grabbed, whipped open in a flash, iPad out to take a picture. Hardly any time to recognise and appreciate the amazing things I re-discovered; axe heads, Roman shoes, china dishes, Roman glass. Then on to the next, barely time to find all the shelves and photograph all the items before the next round began.

Boxes and numbers, numbers and boxes

Boxes and numbers, numbers and boxes

It was weird to think I would spend five minutes looking at one unremarkable piece of pottery before today, I would contemplate who made it, who used it, who broke it, how it got left behind. Yet here I was, spending no more than a few seconds looking at the most remarkable objects. I enjoyed the day so much, it went by in a blur, a frantic, rushing, whirling blur. I feel I know the archive much better now, I am intimately acquainted with the shelving, particularly rolling shelves that like to roll back and crush me, I snooped inside the metal store and enjoyed the solitude of the paper records room.

I loved being able to share the items that sit on shelves with people sitting out on the ‘Twitterverse’. Some may well have had an archaeological background, some knew the archive, but equally for some it was a new wonderfully intriguing experience to see a Saxon knife blade or a beautifully preserved Roman coin ‘fresh out of the box’. I hope it has inspired them to come and visit this amazing place. One thing hasn’t changed, my fascination of the people who dig these things up, I wonder what it must have been like to peel back the earth and scrape away at the dirt, the years that separate us from our ancestors falling away with each gentle movement.

When I started my day as the ‘Archive Lottery Volunteer’, the one part I wasn’t that excited about was the paper records. They are alien to me, these shelves and shelves of boxes, the folders of paper, the site diaries and indecipherable lists. Trying to pick out something to share and tweet was hard, these pages of contexts, the scribbled handwriting, the dirt stained notes and rough sketches. Then I came across a site diary with a shopping list, things to buy – gloves, ear defenders and lights. This was fab window into understanding these strange archaeologists that felt so far removed  from me standing in a cold storage archive.



I began to no longer see the objects I had looked at earlier in the day in isolation, these paper records felt like the voices of all those archaeologists and volunteers, the moments of discovery hidden in these pages just as the objects had been hidden in the ground. In these papery leaves I could see the hardwork and passion, I could see the dirty knees and bad backs. The real surprise for me was realising these paper records are as important as the artefacts. They are another piece in the puzzle of discovering not only the history of the objects, but the history of those who had the passion and commitment to find them in the first place.

It felt strangely intimate to hold those notes in my hand, to listen to those voices. I spent a special day sharing the objects of archaeological discovery with the ‘Archive Lottery’ but what will stay with me for much longer is that hour at the end of the day spent with those paper records. The quiet voices siting on shelves, a room full of invisible archaeologists, it was my own jackpot and a real treasure trove of discovery.

#ArchiveLottery – Part 5: Paper Records

What will the records have in store for us? Behold:

Some lovely timber drawings from Trig Lane for @orangepornge

Timber drawings from Trig Lane

Timber drawings from Trig Lane

“Get Some Lights!!!” a shopping list of sorts from Riverplate House for @ArtiCheck

Get Some Lights!!!

Get Some Lights!!!


A newspaper article regarding the dig at South Grove for @WebArchivist

Ham and High at it's best

Ham and High at it’s best


An illustrated Pot from Bermondsey Abbey for @mattpaheenan

nice pot

nice pot


And some bad news for area III from Southwark Street for @TheShanTiger

Who washed all the finds away!

Who washed all the finds!


And last but not least, for one of @dayofarch’s founders, the lovely @lornarichardson gets a Rewrite book from Newgate Street

Try again

Try again

A massive thanks to everyone who offered a number today and joined in with our #ArchiveLottery.  And a massive thanks to our @museumoflondon volunteer @tinctureofmuse for helping to gather all your #ArchiveLottery results!

Have a great #DayOfArch and hope to see you on a visit to the Archive store soon 🙂

#ArchiveLottery – Part 3: Environmental

Still with us? Time for some small stuff

The environmental finds brought up lots of lovely tubes with a mixture of seeds & insects like these from Apothecaries Hall (thanks to @MyLifeIsHistory & 1886Guy for picking shelf 6!)

Seeds & insects

Seeds & insects


There was also a tub of parasites from Billingsgate for MOLA’s enviro archaeologist @KarenStewart

Billingsgate parasites

Billingsgate parasites


Wouldn’t be environmental archaeology without a coprolite or two like this one for @andyfev




And there was a nice few small fish bones from Bull Wharf for @ellie__miles



Next it’s our Metal artefacts – these objects are stored separately. A dehumidified store, sealed boxes and silica gel help us maintain these objects to a high degree of preservation as they’d slowly degrade in normal room conditions. Tweet @MuseumOfLondon or @AdamCorsini using #dayofarch or #ArchiveLottery or message us below, a number between 241 and 492 to discover, completely at random, what that shelf holds…

#ArchiveLottery – Part 1: General Finds

Wow! What a start to LAARC Lottery! Big thanks to all of those that have been suggesting shelf numbers. Here’s a selection of the the results:

@jasonmarkwebber went for shelf 1 and it produced this lovely complete vessel from Brentford excavations

Spot the Elephant

Spot the Elephant

There were a few nice bits of animal bone that @PhaseSI, @lizcwhite & @fond_ras picked:

Toothy grin

Toothy grin





A nice decorated pipe for @GiraffeCorner

Charles was 'ere?

Charles was ‘ere?

Some stone ware for @lisamarieprints and @MattArnold2009:

English Stoneware

English Stoneware

German stoneware

German stoneware


And several people interested in shelf 666 – which brought up a modern demonstration pot that was made when they dug up the Roman kilns in Highgate Wood 🙂

Pretending to be Roman

Pretending to be Roman

Next up it’s our Registered finds: objects assigned an individual number (akin to an museum accession number) because they are of particular interest.  Tweet @MuseumofLondon or @AdamCorsini using #dayofarch or #ArchiveLottery or message us below, picking a number between 1 and 546 to discover, completely at random, what that shelf holds… – and we’ll post back our results around 1pm