qualified aircraft engineer as well as a professional archaeologist

Bob Clarke’s Varied Day of Archaeology

Like many archaeologists I wear more than one hat. I am a qualified aircraft engineer as well as a professional archaeologist – aviation and archaeology – strange bedfellows but very fulfilling!  This morning I was busy supporting engineering students at a local training college. This was interspersed with a rationalisation of some bags of finds from last weekend’s ‘Dig Devizes’. This was a community dig over two days. Running the children’s trench was a rewarding experience however; five year olds can produce very full finds trays! I’ve just weighed in and analysed a mass of CBM, not so informative unfortunately however there is also a substantial range of coins – everything from 1889 to 1991, clay pipe, a small silver bar and my favourite – ring-pulls. As part of my PhD I’ve been working with ring-pulls, a very important part of modern material culture (watch out for the paper!). Later today I will be writing up the context sheets for test pit DD 13 601 and forwarding them to the PM Jon Sanigar.

IMG_8589 - Copy  Now this afternoon I have been busy recording a recently discovered well  in my village. I run a community project, The Broad Town Archaeological Project (BTAP), encouraging locals to report and get involve in their local environment. Last Monday two guys taking down a fence discovered a cap-stone with a chalk blocked lined well below. This afternoon I will be recording this for our project and so we can submit the feature to the Wiltshire Building Record. After that I need to complete a watching brief report on some work I oversaw for the National Trust at the Sanctuary (Avebury). That was a nice day well spent. I work occasionally for a small archaeological contractor who specialises in small watching briefs in North Wiltshire – this allows me to build up a small pot of money to cover my fees for my part-time PhD at Exeter. Now depending on the time I get finished on reports I might well squeeze in a couple of hours on the thesis – I’m currently mapping cold war bunkers against a heterotopic/secret landscape/taskscape.

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So that’s my day – no spectacular digs or discoveries, more a community orientated effort. And that is archaeology for me – we often work in a position of authority but we should always remember the local community’s history we are digging. I have always enjoyed involving the local community; then I would do as one of the UKs foremost community archaeologists shaped my formative years – Professor Mick. He also told me ‘archaeology is a beautiful mistress but she brings a poor dowry’, Never a truer word spoken.

Bob Clarke

PS I’ve popped links to Broad Town and Dig Devizes if you want a peep.