Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Holy Shit Find of the Season

This week was rather uneventful. We ate at pubs and had fish and chips a lot. So much so that Saturday night was the first time I had something prepared in the campsite and not in the pub with the exception of BBQ night which is Monday nights.

I was at the Kaims every day except Friday. On Friday I was at the castle doing environmental which meant floating soil samples and sorting the heavy residue from samples that had dried. The information that comes out of this process can be very interesting but actually sorting the material can become rather dull. You sort bones, shell, rocks and whatever other material is in the sample in to piles then bag and weigh each category. Floating is also not all that exciting, you have your hands in a freezing cold float tank rubbing soil and clay between your fingers to break it all up.

Saturday was the exciting day. I was back at the Kaims with more supervisors than students. We had been having a good week for flint finds especially but I hadn’t found anything really noteworthy. I had been cleaning back trench 42 and cleaning and planning trench 55 all week. On Saturday I was back in trench 42 just cleaning back the top soil off the layer of stones. I had done this already for 2 days during the week with nothing to show for it except clean stones on the surface. Saturday was different however, I was just doing what I’d been doing slowly taking scrape by scrape of top soil off when suddenly something shiny and almost honey coloured caught my eye. I took the remaining top soil off with my trowel and exclaimed “Holy Shit”. I picked up the flint tanged arrowhead in shook for a second before showing the guy beside me then calling out for the lithics expert to come over. Krisitan asked from across the trench what it was and was in disbelief when I said it was an arrow head. Neal, the archaeology coordinator for the kaims, couldn’t get across the trench quick enough. There was so much excitement and a rush to take photos on a phone camera to send out straight away. Within an hour the finds department had requested that the artefact go to the castle straight away and so it did. 

Neal returned an hour or so later with fresh hot Scotch pies for us all. Luckily I’m one of these people who don’t give a shit about what goes into food as long as it tastes good. A Scotch pie is a pie made up of all the bits and pieces of meat that aren’t really usable at a butchers, the meat rangers from pink to grey inside and is salted but tastes oh so yummy.

We had an arrowhead come out of trench 42 for a few weeks ago but it wasn’t complete. It is rare for them to come out complete like mine did. It is also a dateable find as unlike Australian lithics the typology drastically changes through time so the size and shape of an artefacts can tell you which period it most likely came from. It’s a funny thing, I came to BRP because of the castle. I came to do historical archaeology at an awesome castle site and had no interest in the prehistoric site. I’ve ended up enjoying the prehistoric site far more than the castle site. The castle is still amazing but I’d rather walk the 15minutes through paddocks and mud down to a wet peat marsh and dig in muck all day. Prehistory seems to have become more interesting. I’d like to learn more about lithics and lithics identification. I can now identify quatz, chert and flint. Before I came I wasn’t that interested at all by lithics. Working this site, finding flint and chert artefacts as well as the stone arrangements has kind of changed my mind.

Sunday was our day off. Neal has gone home for the last week of the season which is sad. The upside however is he had a caravan which is now empty, he gave it to Jackie for the last week which means no more sleeping in a tent. We spent most of the morning packing both our stuff up and dismantling our tents. All I had said I wanted for my day off was a sleep in and a Sunday roast lunch. It seems I wasn’t to have either. I was awake at 7am even though it was still cool. Then when we went to the castle Inn in Bamburgh they had sold out of roast lunches and the other two pubs just did their usual pub meals on a Sunday L I was less than pleased. So it was a pint of Ale (black sheep) and char grilled cajan pork instead. Surprisingly I enjoyed the jacket potato far more than the pork, which is saying something as the pork tastes amazing and is so juicy. Afterwards we went for a walk down to the beach to check the castle out from the beach. 

We’re now going into the last week of the project. A lot of people left today or yesterday which is sad but not as sad as next weekend will be when the project wraps up for the season. I fly home in just under two weeks now which is also sad but at the same time I can’t wait to get home. To get back to work and pay this trip off, I hate being in debt. I’m also really looking forward to driving around again, I seriously miss my car. 

The BRP blog mentioned my arrow head but I wasn't credited. I was disappointed but I shouldn't be surprised they are also lifting photos off my facebook and using them without requesting permission or giving credit. I've now found at least three of my photos on the project blog. 

Here's the link to the arrow head posts: 

Also just for reference the Bradford Kaims is close to some holiday cottages called Hoppen Hall Cottages googleing them brings up the location of where we park but here's the link to the area on google maps.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another wet week

Monday 9th July:  It was too wet to get into the trenches so I was finds washing then went onto environmental sorting. Graham was wondering very bored, as a result Anne and I ended up chained to a wall. As well as working in the dark for a bit when he turned the lights out on us in the windowless stone room.

Tuesday 10th July: I did finds washing in morning as it was rather wet outside then Neal decided it was dry enough so we headed to the Kaims for rest of day. I started a half section of a possible pit feature.

Wednesday 11th July: It was too wet for any work in any trenches today so I was finds sorting half the day then we watched The Time Team Bamburgh episode.

Thursday 12th July: Finds sorting all day Woo. We did get through a hell of a lot of sorting.

Friday 13th July: Kaims I completed the excavation of my half section and started the section drawing.

Saturday 14th July: I was at the Kaims all day. I cleaned my half section, finished the section drawing and got the half section photographed. I then started cleaning around rocks west of cist stone

 Graham supervising me drawing my section plan which is not as impressive as my plan of T42 but the section itself was rather uninteresting with only one context and it appears to be natural not human made.
 The half section in all it's glory!
 Graham photographing the half section.

Sunday 15th July: Today we visited Vindolanda a roman archaeological site that has been continuously excavated for 40 years. The field school sells out in a matter of minutes when registration opens apparently. The museum was amazing in one day they got 70 leather shoes out of one trench. They have over 4000 shoes and only one actual pair. It is just south of Hadrian's wall and pre-dates it by 40years. We then went to the sister site called the Roman Army Museum which was much the same stuff as the Vindolanda museum that was a bit disappointing. We then walked down the road to a national walking trail up to a section of Hadrians wall that is still standing. In sections it was upto about 8 feet tall though it was probably closer to 5feet for most of the section that remains and there is one turret remains right up the top. 
 In the back of the photo is the raised sections for a raised floor this is a bath house that had a heated floor (fire was made under the raised floor).
 Looking at just a small portion of the site from the experimental archaeology reconstruction of Hadrian's wall
 Hadrian's Wall! You cant see from the photo how high up this is but the ridge is really high, it was a bit of a hike up the side of the hill to get up there.
 Me in front of the wall! We had just been rained on
Jackie in front of the wall.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Coring at the Kaims

Sunday 9th of it was a relatively dry day for the project. I was assigned to geographic coring. Two students went out with the local coring guy; Matt. We started coring in a swamped field. My ankle high leather boots were not upto the task and were full of cold water within the first few minutes just getting to the coring site. We all ended up covered in mud from head to toe. Including in my hair and inside my ears.
 Anne, Matt and I after a morning of coring.
 Anne, Matt and I after a morning of coring.
 Anne and Matt coring in standing water
 This is what we bring up with the core; a sample of the environmental complex
These are my oh so fashionable purple snakeskin wellies (gumboots) from Tescos (a mega grocery/department store). They probably would have been useful at the Kaims but they are cheap and nasty so I didn't trust them to hold up to the walking down into the Kaims.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

BRP take 2

So a fair bit has happened since I last posted a blog entry. For starters I did not leave the UK on the 28th. It took me three days and a lot of running around both in person and over the phone to change my flights to the start of August. Thanks to my parents for paying my car rego and making it possible for me to stay on at BRP for the rest of the season.

I'm going to do a very quick recap of the last two weeks.
Monday June 25th. I cleaned all my clothes and my camping gear at Steve and Jen's place in preparation for flying home on Thursday. At the same time I was trying to find out how much it would cost me to stay on in the county for an extra month. I was also eagerly awaiting a skype interview for a job in sydney.

Tuesday June 26th. I had my skype interview which was a bit different. Basically he said if I wanted to stay on for a month in the UK then I should do whatever is best for me as a job isn't garenteed and the start date would be in the future anyway. So I started really trying to work out if BRP had space for me and if I could afford it. 

Wednesday June 27th. I found out at 2am in the morning that it would only cost $150 in fees to change my flight so I was staying in the country for another month Woo! I went shopping at some outdoors shops in London trying to replace my broken steel caps in preparation for my return up north. I saw Henry V at the Globe theatre, it was awesome I loved every minute of it even though I came out a little deaf from standing right up against the front of the stage, looking up at the actors. See the below photos. That is how close I was!

After I came back to Steve and Jen's place I went to fighter practice with Steve. I was teaching a noob that had been there for three months how to teach his noob friend who had come along for the first time. I learnt a little about playing with pole axes then just watched Steve and another knight smack each other around. A suspended pell is a very odd thing to play with. Fighting in a hall is also very loud. I was feeling the hearing damage the next day after the play and fighter practice.

Thursday 28th of June. Today I collected my hiking boots from a store that was on 50% sale. I had tried on some very nice boots at the first place I went to the day before but I wasn't willing to spend 150pounds on boots I'm going to be walking around in mud in for four weeks and may ditch if I ruin. I wandered around the Covent Garden markets which is a very cool bunch of indoor markets then I went to the Museum of London which I really enjoyed. The most interesting thing I saw was archaeological examples of horse teeth. I had been cleaning and sorting those sorts of teeth at BRP in the first 3 weeks so it was very cool to find out what they are :)

Friday 29th June. Today I did something very unlike me, I walked 3 miles to the local massive shopping complex. I spent 5 hours wandering around the Westfield and the smaller older mall across the road. I spent most of my time at the new very shinny westfields full of designer shops and the Lego Store! I only got lunch and some body butter (from the body shop on half price special). Then spent very little at the pound shop and the 99p shop in the older shopping centre and some dirt cheap well fitted dresses for pub night :) Apprently I had too much for my bag which broke just a few streets from Steve and Jen's place oh well gaff tape fixed it :)

Saturday 30th June. Today Steve, Jen and I went to the British Library Treasures room. Saddly the magna carter is currently off display oh well saw many other really old manuscripts and books. Afterwards we made it through only the Medieval sections of the Victoria and Albert museum. There was sooo much dress porn, so many pretty dresses I'd like to recreate.

Sunday 1st July. I boarded a train back up north, arriving late afternoon. I was greeted with many hugs and welcomes back :)

Monday 2nd July. First day back at the castle and I was finds washing with the noobs. It was nice being back at the castle and the weather wasn't so bad.

Tuesday 3rd July. Today started off rather wet so we went to the castle for more finds washing in the morning then went into the Kaims after morning tea. We continued to dig Trench 42.

Wednesday 4th of July. Today Ben and I started the planning for Trench 42. After Lunch I started the detailed planing around the suspected Cist (the big stone in the middle of the trench). I was using a planing grid made up of 20cm squares in a 1metre square frame. Below is the end result for the day. 

Thursday 5th July. I was a victim of my own success. I was originally asked to do one more square south of the main stone. I did such a good job and so quickly that I was asked to plan the rest of the Trench. That's what I would be doing for two more days. Below is the end of day two.
 Friday 29th June. Today I finished off the main part of the planning and started the leveling. Which means using a dumpy level to measure the level/height in relation to sea level. We ran out of time to complete it. 
Above is sheet 1 of Trench 42. It is 20.30m long and ranges between 2.55m and 220m wide.
 Sheet 2 of Trench 42
 A closer up photo of the plan to show the detail around the main store with context numbers added. The circular objects are all randomly places and randomly shaped stones some of which appear to have been fractured by heat (broken buy being heated in a fire then had water poured over them to rapidly cool them causing them to fracture). The supervisors and the director of the community project all think I could have a career in planning. Apparently I'm talented. I guess I've found what I excel in in archaeology. I have the patients and the eye for detail to plan a trench that everyone else thought would be a nightmare and they only planned on doing a few metres as a representative sample. Along with photographs my plan will be the recording of the Trench as it was before the stones are lifted/excavated. 

Saturday 7th July. Today was my day off. I went for a drive with Jackie into Kelso in Scotland. We saw some very pretty country side and cute little  villages. We had a lovely lunch which included Haggis and Pork belly for me which were both new and very tasty experiences for me. In the centre of the village there is a very old cemetery and the ruins of a very impressive Abbey that was destroyed by Henry VIII.