Life of an Intern

I am an archaeology undergraduate at the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan). I have been engaged as an intern to help create a database of past excavations for a 10 year project starting in September. The project site is a Roman fort (Bremetenacum Veteranorum) amidst the beautiful village of Ribchester in Lancashire and its surrounding area. The project intends to look at not only the fort but how it affected the local population and landscape and at what happened after the Romans ‘left’.

My internship began by sourcing any and all publications produced over the last couple of centuries that had any archaeological information about Ribchester. The internet proved a valuable tool for this purpose but still it took days longer than I intended and I haven’t even gone to collect the material yet.

The remainder of my time has been processing information gathered from a small trench we excavated last September and some test pits done over the spring. This includes transferring the section drawings of the excavations into GIS software via Adobe Illustrator. This should help us to better pin point future excavations. This was then followed by inputting the context sheets.

What remains for me to do now is to sort through the finds and catalogue them for future reference. Identifying pottery seems to take a great deal of time. It is a process that is both enjoyable and frustrating at the same time. I am unsure whether I would want to specialize in pottery, to just become good at it or simply find my own intern to deal with it. At the moment I will stick to just trying to become good at it.

The process will start over again when the publications I sourced earlier arrive. Once all the past excavation are consolidated we and future archaeologists, should have a fantastic source of information with which to help us decipher of ‘just what was going on’ in Ribchester when the Romans were here.

Happy Digging


An Inscribed Spindle Whorl

I hadn’t planned for anything exciting today – but you never know what can happen. I had a new detectorist dropping in who recorded a Roman and a post medieval coin with me which was a nice surprise. The coins are recorded as LANCUM-D92224 (Roman denarius of Hadrian) and LANCUM-D8A9E3 (sixpence of Elizabeth I dating from 1572), both from Woodplumpton, Lancs. – it was very nice of the detectorist and his dad, the landowner, to think about recording their finds and I am glad that they somehow found their way to the PAS. I guess seven years ago when I started the job that would have been virtually impossible. Today, I am ‘part of the team’ for most of the detectorists in Lancashire and Cumbria.

Last night, a new club was founded: the Furness Finders. They got in touch with me BEFORE the meeting and asked me which days I couldn’t attend the meetings. It’s great that they want to make sure that the local FLO records their finds and I was pleasantly surprised. That ups my club count from two to three club in North Lancashire and Cumbria. Barrow has proven to be fantastic place to find ‘stuff’ recently: We have had the Viking hoard from the Furness area, a Chinese coin hoard and lately, the first ever Early Iron Age hoard in the area – all discovered by local metal detectorists and all reported within hours/days of discovery. Makes me happy to have played part in this.

Another nice surprise today was that one of my Cumbrian detectorists found an inscribed medieval spindle whorl (see image). I have no idea what it means, but I hope I will find out. I suspect it’s just non-sensical lettering, but wouldn’t it be great if it meant something? Unfortunately, I research Early Iron Age socketed axes, not medieval inscription, so all I could do was photoshop it and send it off to people who know more about medieval lettering than I do…

Medieval lead-alloy inscribed spindle whorl from Great Mitton, Lancs.