Every Friday afternoon of the excavation season, the team downs tools a little early and gathers in the Marquee for our weekly Site Tour.
It’s the end of our six-day work week, and our chance to catch up on what our colleagues have been up to across the various faces of this complex Project – as well invite along interested friends, family and members of the public.
This year, the Basic Excavation and Recording Techniques (BERT) course is trialling a new approach to help trainees understand the ‘big picture’ of archaeology – how the act of excavation leads in stages to research outcomes.
To do this, they will be working on a particular feature – a large, irregularly shaped area of Trench 23 (T23). The aim is to answer progressively the question “What was this?” over the season.
Week 1′s BERTs therefore presented an introduction to their research paper, which outlined background information on the site and the trench, as well as a description of the feature under review.
Forthcoming weeks of BERT will add to and develop the paper, with the hope that by the end of season these archaeological newcomers will have made a collective, significant contribution to our understanding of the site. Not a bad way to get started in archaeology!
Next, we moseyed up to visit Ellie and her archaeo-metallurgy course team of seven intrepid individuals who had spent the week building, heating, casting, smelting and creating small wonders out of molten metal.
As always, it’s amazing to see what people can learn and achieve in a few short – and not so short! – days. The archaeo-metallurgy course team have some beautiful items made of pewter and copper by their own hands to take home, and had the additional satisfaction of smelting iron from ore.
Miriam explained to us how carrstone – a local, reddish iron-rich rock commonly used as a building material – is baked in a hearth to remove as much water content as possible before being broken up for easier smelting.
Kelly showed us the casting hearth, described how it is used, and even did an open casting for us of pewter.
Paul opened up the cuttlefish mould he used to cast a copper object, showing us (and himself) for the first time what he had created.
Some beautiful things were made, and seven very happy budding metallurgists now have some new treasures to keep.
Finally, we made our way onto T23 and heard the update from John on activities and discoveries for the week.
It was a week of solid work on the trench, and though most of our archaeological questions remain under discussion, things are well set-up to start answering these questions in the weeks to come.
So that was Site Tour, Week 1.
If you’re around north-west Norfolk next Friday, around 3:30pm, drop by the Boneyard and join us to hear about this week’s adventures – or any day (except Saturday), 10am to 4pm, until 11 August. Looking forward to seeing you!