A few days ago we had a lecture to sum up everything that we discovered, achieved and uncovered over the course of the excavation; as well as some of the goals. The lecture was an hour long and I can’t include everything we spoke about here but I there’s a couple of things that I wanted to highlight.
Steve Roskams (lecturer and site manager) stressed that there was a higher focus on heritage this year (well done guys!) and that there was an increased interest from the local community. He mentioned that he wanted to do more of this in the coming years and that what we did this year was successful but it could be expanded upon a lot because the community was obviously interested in it.
Steve spefically commented that himself and Historic England were impressed with the heritage work that went on, especially with the school visit that we did the other day (let me know if you’re interested in this and I will make a post all about it).
He raised the point there was a slight issue with the fact that when people came around the site that we couldn’t tell them everything because they’re visiting when we ourselves don’t know anything. I think this is an issue but there isn’t really too much we could do about it.
There was a bunch of other stuff that we spoke about but I’m not 100% sure what I can and can’t talk about so I’m just gonna leave it at that for now. Thanks for reading!
At the end of every excavation period it’s the jobs of the heritage students to organise a end of year exhibition to showcase everything we’ve learned and we had it the other day!
We had a couple of elements: the part everyone enjoyed the most was definitely the free wine reception! But we also had a kids activity table to showcase all the childrens activities we’d created, we had copies of blog posts and recipe books on the tables and most importantly we had the posters! Every group, as part of their assessment, needs to produce a powerpoint poster and they were on display for everyone to look at and vote on. I’m super proud of my group for winning: well done guys!
Afterwards we packed up and I had to run off to help set up SummerFest which was the Archaeology Society ball (which I was on the committee for) so I never really got to say goodbye to everyone but if you’re reading this then I had I had a great time working with you the last couple of months and I hope you have a good summer! Summerfest was also a success so generally it was a great, if not rather hectic, day.
Thank you for everyone who came I had a lovely time. I leave you with some pictures from the evening.
This will (most likely) be my last post so I wanted to make something that brought together everything we’ve done as a team in one place for anyone who might want to go through it all in the future. If you produce any more content or if I find something I think might be interesting then I will post it here.
Let’s start with the blogs, click on the persons name to find out what they have to say about the dig. Seren.Sarah.Victoria.Chloe.Rose. and of course this blog: Amy. I also created a blog post for the university blog which can be read here.
Click on this link here to view all of the Youtube videos (there should be 6 by the time I get them all out) I have made about the excavation. Shout out to everyone on the dig that helped me produce these!
The next thing I would like to show you is the Newsletters. We have produced two so far but a third one may also be happening. I’ll amend this post if/when that happens.
Then we have the kids (or adults) activities booklets. The first one is primarily for use on site and the second one can be used anywhere.
We have a fun Roman recipe for you to try at home!
On top of making all of this we have done countless public site tours, visited Malton Museum, had 90 school children come to Kings Manor, put posters and Newsletters around Malton, filmed for Digging for Britain, ran an end-of-excavation exhibition and more! We’ve had a busy few weeks but it’s been so much fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along, if you want any more information that I haven’t linked in this post then please comment below and I’ll be happy to help.
If today has taught me anything it is the importance of making sure your plans are correct.
This morning I spent doing Records post excavation work. This means that we take all the paperwork that we created during the excavation and convert it into an online form. I was only there this morning as I was working with emotive in the afternoon but here is what we did!
When on site you have to create drawing plans, these are very detailed and to-scale and can take hours! When doing these you also have to fill out a drawing sheet, on this it has a list of all the drawing that have been done, the context number, drawing number and what it was of. It was our job to go through the list, recreate it in excel and make sure it was all right. You would be surprised how easy it is to make a mistake in a form when you’re writing in the wind/rain/hail etc.
There was also other people sorting through photographs which is a similar process. Photographs are taken on site. In the photo you include a scale and context information. This information is then taken, a long with the photograph number, and inputted into a database for later use.
That about covers it! If you have any questions then please comment down below and I will be happy to answer them for you.
Today is gonna be a quick one because I ended up missing half the day due to not feeling great when I woke up. Made it in for the afternoon though!
Post-excavation finds processing involves a lot of different elements such as working out what kind of artefact it is, sorting everything by context and working out how best to preserve it. However, by far the most time consuming task is washing. This is where the finds from each context bag (that are filled on site) are washed with water and a toothbrush. They are then labelled (as a group, in this case we kept them in labelled trays, see the photos below) and taken away for further processing and storage.
Although this seems like a straightforward task there is some things that can complicate the process. For example you need to make sure that the item you’re looking at is suitable for water cleaning. Things like metal, wood and charcoal need to be cleaned in a specialised manor specific to their makeup. Most of what gets cleaned (especially from a Roman dig) is pot sherds but you will also get some CBM (ceramic building material), bone and other items. You will also come across the occasional stone that has been added by accident.
That’s all I have for finds processing. If you’re interested in this kind of thing you can see the video I made with Caitlin our finds officer in a previous post (it’s worth checking out she’s great).
As anyone who has worked in archaeology will know: the real work takes place after the excavation. All the samples, records, finds, photos, drawings ect. all need to be sorted, information extracted from them, and turned into a useful form that can later be published. This week I will be taking part in three days where I join in some of the post-excavation work that is necessary when you’ve done digging. This is just a tiny glimpse into the work that is done so please remember that this can take years!
We started off the day by sorting environmental samples. When on site samples of the soil are taken from different areas (known as contexts) and back at the lab (in our case this is King’s Manor in York) they are processed. One of the later stages of the process is looking at some of the stone, seed, charcoal, fossil, plant ect. remains that are from these samples. To do that you sieve your sample and a few different grains and then take whatever comes out at each grain and then sort it by type. You do this by looking down a microscope to identify it and then sorting it into petri-dishes. These are then weighed and the finds recorded. It is extremely close work, breathing too hard can mess it all up, it takes a lot of time and patience but can be important to work out what kind of environment the context was and therefore what might have happened there.
The afternoon we spent doing one of the earlier stages of environmental processing which is essential cleaning mud (stick with me). All of our samples that were taken from the site in Malton are first floated. This means that we take a large tub of water (it’s more specialised than that but that’s the basics of it) and add in a large sheet of fabric that acts like a filter (think of it like a teabag or coffee filter). The sample is then added to the water and, with the help of hands mixing it up a bit, the debris inside the soil is floated to the top and the soil itself sinks through the fabric sieve. The stuff that floats off the top (snail shell, roots, charcoal) is collected, whatever remains in the sieve (sand, gravel) is collected and all the soil that falls through is discarded. This is all done by hand so is very wet and muddy! It didn’t help that the heavens opened half way through us doing this. I didn’t manage to get many photos because my hands were too muddy (there’s still dirt under my fingernails as I type this) but this is the best I can do!
So that’s the basics of what we did on our environmental day. The next day will be ‘finds’ so stay tuned for more info when that comes out!