The great and weird thing about British archaeology (even though there are hundreds of archaeological units), no matter where you go you will ALWAYS see someone that you already know/have worked with or have a mutual friend/former colleague with.
I started to realise this after the first year or so in the commercial sector, but it really hit home today.
Before now I have never set foot on an archaeological site of London, I’ve never dug in the South East of England. However, in I rock to my first induction day, take my seat and have a look around myself. The next guy to walk through the door just happens to be a chap called Billy who I worked with about a year ago.
In the induction room I’m chatting away during our 15 minutes break, the guy sat next to me mentions he worked at a company called CPAT, now I have never worked there but I know two people who have/do, he knows them both, has worked with them.
Now the two people at CPAT I know from different times also, one is a girl who I met at a uni research dig (we didn’t go to the same university) the second is a chap who I met when I worked for my very first commercial archaeology unit and somewhere along the way they ended up at the same company as each other and had a similar experience of “Oh you know Beki,” “Yeah, god I know Beki” blah blah.
I thought ‘god, you just can’t go anywhere!’
And then towards the end of the day, another chap in my inductions is chatting away, recanting a story about a site in Copenhagen and I think to myself ‘I’ve heard this somewhere before’ and so I ask “Do you know Rachel?” and of course he replies “Oh yeah, I know Rachel, dug with her for two years in Denmark, good friends with her,” to which I respond “How weird, I’ve just been digging with her in North Yorkshire, literally saw her a week ago!”
Now away from today.
I had a meal with loads of people I was digging in Chester with, one of the girls had left for a different unit, she says to me “of I’m working with a girl who knows you from Border” and of course I ask “who?” she says “Suzie” and I think, OK, I don’t know a girl called Suzie, she wasn’t at Border when I was there, oh maybe she’s just heard about my speedy exit from Border. So I reply to my friend “Sorry, never met her at Border” finally we figured out that actually I met her during my time at Durham uni, she was on a course with a friend of mine. She joined Border after my hasty exit because she was friends with someone already working there (a friend of mine) who she knew from her time at Bradford uni. When she was at Border she found out that I had worked there (but not allowed to acknowledge that I ever worked there) and then ended up working for a company called PCA with a friend of mine who I’d been digging in Chester with.
Serious mind mapping needed…
I do have quite a few more examples of rocking up to sites and finding out you all seem to know the same people or everyone else went to the same university as each other. But that’s too lengthy for here. Those few people already mentioned offer enough evidence for today!
And so I reiterate… the world of British Archaeology is incredibly small. I suppose that should be a warning of ‘Careful what gossip you pass on and who you criticise!’ ha ha!