Yellowmead Excavations

The dig team on the last day

Originally uploaded by lilith_kayt.

Well, I’m back and I have a mountain of soil samples, drawings and context sheets to make sense of. Only one find, but a very nice bit of Bronze Age worked flint, probably a Slub Knife (though it needs to go off for a proper lithics specialist to have a look at it!). Well done to Sarah C for finding it, and on her first proper dig as well!

I have huge thank-yous to say to a whole list of people: Jane Marchand from the DNPA, and her colleagues from EH and the National Park who made it possible to do the work in the first place, my site supervisor James Fenn and my diggers Eanna, Lynsey, Sarah C and Sarah P. These guys worked very very hard and were a lot of fun. Dennis and Jenny Wright for letting us work on site in the first place, and James Paxman and Val Barns from the DPA who brought a great bunch of DPA members up to site for a tour. I also have to thank Bournemouth University and my supervisors as I’m funded by the uni and without their support this whole PhD couldn’t happen.

We were blessed with great weather (we got sunburned on the first day!)- we did get flooded trenches, but that is the nature of Dartmoor and the rain never stopped us working, so I think somehow this time I got the sacrifices to the weather gods about right.

It is going to take a little while to make sense of the results. In some of the trenches things were as I expected, and in some, things just weren’t. I need to re-look at the geophysical data in the light of the ground truthing work, and re-interpret the site. I like this process, it is iterative,  a way of working I find quite intuitive. One thing going up and digging holes has done though, and that is answer my ‘am I an archaeologist’ question. I am. I can ‘read’ a section, I understand stratigraphy and site formation processes. I can see soil colour changes and I can tell worked flint from random chips. I happen to specialise away from digging holes, but when I peer into them I at least know what I’m looking at!

I have still got stuff to upload from our BM visit in September, and I want to blog some more about last week, but this will have to do for now as I have a big meeting to get ready for tomorrow.

In other news my ‘little’ (OK, fully half a foot taller but four years younger dammit!) brother is leaving to Amsterdam tomorrow, and is pretty sure he’ll never live full time in the UK again. I think he’s very brave and despite not being able to be under the same roof as him fro 24 hours without an argument, I’m going to miss having him about. Here’s hoping we still see each other for the important stuff- birthdays, Christmas and the like. Good luck Fish Face!

Neko x

Present Absence

I’ve not posted much this month. I am not going to make apologies: I’ve mostly been using up my will to write on getting reports to English Heritage for the Scheduled Monuments I’ve used as case studies, which is a major obligation (and I think it’s immoral to do survey work and NOT report it).

But this means that by the time I’m done working for the day (normally after 21:00!!) I don’t really feel like writing!

So I’ve been present but a bit absent of late.

There are some things I do want to write about, when I have time. I went to a very interesting meeting that sparked off a lot of thought about where I locate myself in my discipline. Am I an Archaeologist or a Geophysicist? Can I really claim either title? What are the minimum claims to knowledge for an archaeologist, a geologist, a geophysicist? Should people doing archaeological geophysics have an archaeological background? And if so, how much of the physics do they need to understand? I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I know what my personal feelings are 😉

The not-spouse and I also went on an Epic Journey ™ to London to see the Hadrian Exhibition. I have yet to do the massive Flickr upload that this created but I will do soon, and I wanted to write a little bit about that day as well. We had a lot of fun.

Finally, I really am ‘absent’ until the 18th as I’m off to my site on Dartmoor again, but this time actually conducting some excavations to ground truth the surveys Sarah and I did earlier in the year. If you are anywhere near Yellowmead Down (Sheepstor, near Burrator Reservoir) in the next week, than you’d be more than welcome on site!

Neko out (and really praying the weather holds… offerings to storm gods have been made)