Ruth Taylor

Ruth Taylor: Senior Archaeologist and Accidental Impeder of Be-suited City Folk

8am. I found myself on a building site, in a dank basement peering down a 2m deep hole, wielding both a torch and a hand tape as I valiantly attempted to record a late medieval barrel-lined well and a medieval quarry pit that were visible in section. This was challenging to say the least as  I wasn’t about to enter a deep, unshored foundation trench – safety first! In addition to my usual hard hat, safety boots and gloves, I was also wearing ear defenders and a dust mask, as they were breaking out concrete nearby; all you could see of my face were my eyes. A few snaps for the archaeological record later and I could be found slowly sinking into the spoil heap waving a metal detector around, listening for the beep that would indicate a potentially exciting small find. Unfortunately, all I seemed to detect today were the iron girders supporting the existing building. I did my best to wipe off the mud caking my steel-toe capped boots, but still felt guilty once I had climbed out of the basement and seen that the site cleaner had just finished vacuuming the construction site office.


Hazards of archaeology #725: muddy boots; Hazards of archaeology #726 leaving muddy bootprints

I left site at 9.30am and caught a bus to the office. I’ve never managed to travel light as an archaeologist, but today I felt like a packhorse as I carted: my rucksack, the site records, camera, half-metre scale and metal detector to the bus stop. If you were walking through the City of London this morning and were almost taken out by an over-laden, slightly disheveled individual with hard-hat hair wearing a grubby pair of jeans – I can only apologise.

Present time. After a cup of tea and a catch-up (ok, ok – gossip) with my colleagues, I’ve settled down to write this post before starting work on a geotechnical watching brief report for a site I finished a few weeks ago. As thrilling as that sounds, I may need some chocolate biscuits for motivation. Does anyone want anything from the Co-op?