Category: ConsultancyBuildingsGeophysicsExcavationFindsPrehistoryMedievalTeam InsightsSocial ResponsibilitiesEvents & Outreach
Day in the life of a Monday morning: cup of coffee and update the ‘to do’ list, realising how much of last Friday’s list is still to do! Read emails, check a tender, prepare a tender – get distracted by the politics of the competitive railway market of 19th-century Leeds – invoices to be raised, report to edit…..and I chose archaeology 40 years ago because I loved being outside and didn’t want to sit behind a desk!!!!
The coronavirus pandemic has changed everybody's life in a variety of ways, including those trying to get archaeological excavations published. The same goes for the editors trying to keep their journals going and guiding authors through the sometimes hazardous processes of finalising articles ready to be published online or in print. One of the things I have been doing since coming back from furlough is working thorough the comments by the editor and peer-reviewer on an article about a medieval pottery kiln at Lucker, near Bamburgh in Northumberland. Working from home adds a new dimension of difficulties when trying to liaise with the journal editor, contributors outside NAA, management, illustrators, as well as our finds department. My thanks go to everyone in all of these remote and isolated locations for helping nudge this important project towards completion!
NAA has been successfully maintaining physical distancing over the last couple of months. Most of us have been working from home and those on site are set up as self-contained units. These days, passing kit and data between each other feels like espionage – thank goodness the North East has good broadband connections! Today I have been looking at geophysical data from a site we recently surveyed in Teesside. From an archaeological perspective, sadly, the site isn’t particularly exciting – mostly ridge and furrow and former field boundaries – so we won’t be able to claim that we found any lost deserted medieval villages today…although, weirdly, it’s always reassuring when ridge and furrow is clearly visible within a data set!
Ordinarily, I'd be working in the environmental warehouse. Having people dropping off tools and samples and using the floatation tanks to process the soil samples taken from a wide range of features and sites.
Lockdown has changed a few things, however. Samples are still being dropped off from site, socially distanced of course, but these then have to be "quarantined" alone in the warehouse for a few days before I can get to work with them.
My day so far in the post-excavation department has entailed pulling finds out for external specialists, quoting for my own specialist work, and I’m now prepping to wash finds from a prehistoric site. Flexibility is the name of the game!
This morning began with the all-important staff check-ins to ensure we know where everyone is working and that they have everything they need. If we’re expecting someone to be in work but we have not heard from them, we give them a ring just to check they are ok. This has become more important during lockdown, with most people working from home.
It was then onto the emails. The first thing that popped up was a cancellation of some accommodation we had booked for our site staff from tonight! Obviously, it was a matter of urgency to find them somewhere to stay.
In my role I don’t have a lot to do with the practical archaeology, but the team and I are always here to ensure the smooth running of both office and site.
I'm Henry and I'm an archaeologist. Today I'm excavating part of an Iron Age settlement in advance of utilities works, somewhere in the North East..... A large part of my day today will consist of gathering water to spray over the ground, in order to make the archaeology more visible. Believe it or not, it can rain enough to produce flooding like the pond in the picture and yet be so dry elsewhere that the ground is too hard to dig without soaking it first. Soaking the remains of an Iron Age house with a watering can might not seem like typical archaeological work, but I can assure you it is.