Old dogs & New tricks.

One of the best parts of my job is working with people who are genuinely interested in archaeology.

When a community archaeology project arrives I absolutely jump at the chance, this is why I am currently taking holiday from work to help on Operation Nightingale.

Here are a few photos of my old dogs learning new tricks and they’re loving it!

One of veterans Steve being left to the planning after having to endure a good hours lesson from myself about planning on an excavation. How we do it and why we do it. After that lesson I left him to it to complete 1m square worth and went back to check his drawing afterwards, needless to say, he’d done a stirling job!

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In this photo you can see experienced commercial archaeologist Nick Garry showing some of the veterans different types of finds/artefacts. Predominantly Roman goods, so that they could get a feel for the type of finds which they themselves could expect to find in their trench. You can also see a man in a hat (Dr. Will Rathouse) displaying his collection of replica pre-Roman jewellery, which he had very cleverly made himself! (Even managed to sell a couple of pieces on the project)

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Now knowledge doesn’t all pass one way, our veterans are certainly teaching us a thing or two as well. Here’s Steve again but this time as the instructor on how to properly throw a grenade (in exaggerated movements).

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And this photo is our Fred, telling the boys a few life lessons.

A lot of the time on site is spent exchanging stories of our lives. The best part about this project really!

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Operation Nightingale.

Two weeks ago I began on a project called Operation Nightingale.

This is the short description of the project from their website:

“Operation Nightingale is an initiative to help rehabilitate injured soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan by getting them involved in archaeological investigations.

Operation Nightingale was developed to utilise both the technical and social aspects of field archaeology to help in the recovery and skill development of soldiers injured in the conflict in Afghanistan. There is a close correlation between the skills required by the modern soldier and those of the professional archaeologist. These skills include surveying, geophysics (for ordnance recovery or revealing cultural heritage sites), scrutiny of the ground (for improvised explosive devices or artefacts), site and team management, mapping, navigation and the physical ability to cope with hard manual work in often inclement weather conditions.”

So far it has been an eye opening project, at times inspirational, at times difficult, but never boring nor unworthy.

A couple of shots of the team including our two veterans Fred & Steve, taking shelter in a 9×9 army tent, out of the rain and chewing the fat over a good brew.

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Working hard to clean off the Barrow in Trench 2, through the wind and rain and by jove was it worth it!

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And as with every archaeological project it cannot be all work and no play, so on the first Wednesday night of the project the Major (the important looking chap in regalia + medals) organised a formal dinner for us all in the Officers Mess and what a night it was!

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We’ve also had a few day trips out, including a visit to the Colsterdale WW1 training camp which is currently being surveyed and excavated by York University.

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Here is a shot of trenches dug by the Leeds Pals soldiers in training. We ate ration packs and surveyed in the trenches old school style, with taps and no GPS!

A day out to Locomotion: The National Rail Museum in Shildon, where visitors could ride on the mini train and play in the sandpit… of course we did!

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And this was finished off with a trip to and a tour around Binchester. The student excavations by Durham University have just finished their 7th and final season on the site.

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Now it’s been a couple of months.

On May 10th I moved out of London and left MOLA. It was a beyond amazing time and here are some pictures from it.

Firstly some of the lovely finds from the Broadgate site!

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And there cannot be all work and no play, so here are a few of the fabulous team shots while letting off some of that much built up steam!

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And there was of course some relevant play… visiting all of those historical and educational places!

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Adding strings to the bow…

In my naivety I thought being a good digger, good at doing paperwork and being good at rectifying other peoples mistakes on paperwork would be the way forward to make it as a good supervisor.

Oh naive little Beki. Since starting my new proper grown-up job in archaeology I have learnt so many new things and have got plenty more to go.

1) I’ve been advancing my experience with those old GPS units.

2) I’ve been learning QGIS (I found this incredibly tricky and convoluted… but turns out with repetition it gets much easier and I can now digitise my plans, sections and set them out all pretty and ready to print!)

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3) I’ve asked to do my First Aid training.. they’ve said I can and are looking into the next available session.

4) At some point I will get to learn about 3D photography and setting all of that palava up!

5) Finally after all that it will be the turn of the geophys team to show me the ways!

Baby steps…

Another new job.

I started my new permanent job today.

Went to the office in Lincoln, had a look around, read A LOT of templates for paperwork/reports/GIS all of that sort of thing.

Got my contract to sign, filled out all of the relevant new starter forms and noticed something a tad peculiar, a job title I didn’t realise I had…

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Interpretive job descriptions welcome in comments…

Must have gypsy in the blood.

I moved out of London on May 10th.

I took a week off to recuperate and see the family.

The 17th May I moved to Lincoln, I had planned to stay there until July 20th, but after two days and the realisation that I was expected to do 12 hour shifts and work 6 days a week, I simply thought “hell no”

So I got in touch with an old boss. Organised to head to Northampton after a weeks notice in Lincoln and spend my time there until July 20th.

On the Friday before being due to leave I get offered a better job. I say I’ve already agreed to head to Northampton, so out of professional courtesy I shall head there for 2 weeks and then join the better job with a new company in Lincoln.

I’m now settling there as the contract is permanent. However this does include going on secondment for 3 weeks from July 20th back up the North Yorkshire.

All of this comes after moving around from:

Shropshire – Milton Keynes – Gloucester – Edinburgh – Bradford – Exmouth & Hayling Island – Chester – Richmond – London

My nanny used to tell me that my fathers family were descended from Rom’s who left India, travelled through Romania into Europe and finally settled in Ireland before upping sticks (like so many) and settling in Birmingham.

Many many many generations down the line… I think those itchy feet linger in the genetics.

Perfect Pottery

Finally found a lovely large sherd of prehistoric pottery today.

So proud. This is my personal best, the biggest bit of prehistoric pot that I have ever found.

I’m thinking Bronze Age, although I don’t know Lincolnshire artefacts very well.

It was lovely. My picture is poor but the sun was so bright today (so I can’t complain).

You could see the coils of rolled clay, just such a human element to the whole production!

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