That was the Week 3 that was

Today is the end of Week 4 on site, and we’re officially two-thirds of the way through the season! So much has happened, and there is still so much to come.

Let’s backtrack a little and catch up with some of what happened in Week 3…

Neil enjoys a Sunday morning cuppa

Neil enjoys a Sunday morning cuppa

Week 3 saw a big jump in numbers on site, with no less than four courses running simultaneously: our weekly Basic Excavation and Recording Techniques (BERT) course; Introduction to Human Remains; Medieval Landscape and Archaeology; and Environmental Archaeology. Phew!

Beth and her new friend

Beth and her new friend

Mary Jane muses over skeletal anatomy

Mary Jane muses over skeletal anatomy

With so many courses, it was surprising there was anyone else left to do the work, but that didn’t seem to be a problem.

Quiet morning campsite

Quiet morning campsite

Yet another beautiful sunset

Yet another beautiful sunset

Trench 23 continued to power ahead, following up on the anomalous feature that continues to tease us: is it another oven, or is it a dump or midden?

Go-go-go on Trench 23

Go-go-go on Trench 23

Another oven?

Another oven? Stay tuned…

Tuesday saw yet another excellent presentation at the church as Brian talked about the animal bones, or zoo-archaeological, research. The Human Remains Team, now on site in force to conduct courses and prepare for Open Day, also busied themselves with developing their new Further Studies course for Week 4.

The church tower at sunset

The church tower at sunset

The Human Remains Team plan their new course in the OVH

Members of the Human Remains Team plan their new course in the OVH

No matter how busy it gets, there is always time for a cuppa and a cake, or a walk in the woods, or to administer some (successful) emergency bumblebee first aid.

Sunshine in the woodland

Sunshine in the woodland

Enviro evolution revolution with cupcakes

Environmental evolution revolution with cupcakes

Bumblebee resuscitation (successful)

Bumblebee sugar water resuscitation

Suddenly Friday was upon us, the BERTs wrapping up their busy week and the Human Remains course having a heated ethical discussion on if, when and how remains should be lifted or left in the ground.

The BERTs closing their week

The BERTs closing their week

Human Remains course in heated ethical discussion

Human Remains course in heated ethical discussion

The Week 3 Friday Site Tour was a particularly good one, with three presentations from the specialist courses teaching a large crowd about animal and environmental archaeology, Sedgeford’s medieval economy, and graphically describing the sticky end of one of the site’s trauma victims.

Ewan setting up for site tour

Ewan setting up for site tour

Evie presents on the Enviro course

Evie presents on Enviro

Edward discussing medieval Sedgeford and its associated settlements

Edward describing the economics of medieval Sedgeford

Daphne talks about sexing skeletons

Daphne demonstrating how to determine the sex of skeletons

Ron talks about dentition

Ron talks about dentition

The Human Remains course presents the sad saga of Aethelweard

The Human Remains course presents the sad saga of Aethelweard

And suddenly it was Friday evening again, ending the week with the mellow sounds of poetry and music.

William Alderson and Marshlander bring poetry and music to the Marquee

William Alderson and Marshlander bring poetry and music to the Marquee

We’ve set our season dates for 2018, so start making your plans to join us next year! Course dates and other information will be available very soon: keep an eye on sharp.org.uk, or email bookings@sharp.org.uk, for information.

 

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Welcome to Open Day 2017!

The highlight of the SHARP annual calendar is Open Day, when we get a chance to show our visitors what it is we are doing – and coax a little cash so we can do it some more.

Cloudy early Sunday campsite

Cloudy early Sunday campsite

Welcome to Open Day...

Welcome to Open Day…

What's On

What’s On

The weather is always a concern, but this year it caused more worries than most, with rain right up to early Sunday morning. By breakfast, however, we were getting a few glimpses of sunshine which augured well for the rest of the day.

Open Day is always busy for SHARPies. We spend it directing traffic, selling merchandise and tombola, catering for teas and cakes, organising children’s crafts and activities and talking, talking, talking about all the fascinating things we are finding out all the time about Sedgeford and its parish.

Terry prepares his merchandise

Terry prepares his merchandise

The zoo-arch team ready to roll

The zoo-arch team ready to roll

A deep discussion over archaeo-poo

A deep discussion over archaeo-poo

What archaeologists like...

What archaeologists do in their spare time…

Saxon Daphne

Saxon Daphne

Gary discussing the aerodrome

Gary explains the aerodrome and its history

Despite another shower of rain in the afternoon, this year’s Open Day was very well attended by appreciative visitors taking in everything on offer.

Lots going on at mid-morning

Lots going on at mid-morning

Our crack finds team: Bren, Naomi and Ann

The crack finds team: Bren, Naomi and Ann

Some of the finds team's wares - definitely not for sale!

Some of their ‘wares’ (not for sale, though!)

The sum of a skeleton

The sum of a skeleton

Claire takes Trevor and Mandy through the finer points of skeletal anatomy

Claire takes Trevor and Mandy through the finer points of skeletal anatomy

The catering team did us proud, with hundreds of delicious cupcakes and even gingerbread skeletons to buy and scoff.

Cupcake num nums

Cupcake num nums

Skelly gingerbread

Skelly gingerbreads!

At the end of the day, lead organiser Erica – who, with hubby Kelvin, had worked tirelessly all week on Open Day prep – announced that SHARP was about £1000 better off, which was an outstanding result, and more than justified the weary feelings and aching feet.

Ray takes a well-earned rest

Ray takes a well-earned rest

Fearless Leader Erica at the end of a long day

Fearless Leader Erica at the end of a long day

Thank you so much to Erica, Kelvin, all the SHARP team and volunteers, and everyone who visited for a very successful day.

Open Day 2018 is on Sunday 29 July – we’ll see you (again) then!

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A Tuesday trip to church

Every Tuesday night of the season, SHARPies and a fair number of locals head to church. Not in the usual sense, but to take in the traditional Tuesday night lecture.

Over the decades, we’ve been very fortunate to hear from a large number of very learned individuals on topics directly, and indirectly related to our labours in Sedgeford parish. There is always something interesting to learn!

St Mary the Virgin Church, Sedgeford

St Mary the Virgin Church, Sedgeford

And in the unlikely event that we get bored, there is always our beautiful location to gaze at and admire.

David and Hazel Leese talk about the Romano-British in Norfolk

David and Hazel Leese talk about the Romano-British in Norfolk in Week 1

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Sedgeford, has a history extending back to the 11th century when it is believed that the settlement focus moved from the south to the north side of the Heacham River.

Fint and stone

Flint and stone

Made of local stone and embellished with flint facings in the Norfolk tradition, the ancient fabric of the church has been embellished over the centuries with perpendicular (or English Gothic) style windows, occasional graffiti, and worn away by the footsteps of millions of churchgoers.

A complex interweaving of stone and slate

Interwoven stone, flint and slate

Ancient graffiti on the tower wall

Ancient graffiti on the tower wall

Centuries of wear on the threshold step

Centuries of wear on the threshold step

Many of the great and good of Sedgeford past still lie here, their gravestones and tombstones bearing mute testament to names otherwise long forgotten.

Headstone

Headstone

Here lyeth Mary

Here lyeth Mary

But they can still tell us something interesting. Mary, as ‘dafter’ of Thomas, seems to be strangely described until we think about the words ‘daughter’ and ‘laughter’ – and realise that her tombstone captures a lost pronunciation still preserved in our spelling.

Consecration cross

Consecration cross

Other small details, like a faded medieval consecration cross – one of twelve, anointed by a bishop during the church’s consecration as a holy building – and ancient corbel carvings, are scattered around for the astute observer.

A fearsome face from the past

A fearsome face from the past

But we come primarily for the lecture, which is always well attended and much appreciated, and is invariably followed by the other Tuesday tradition – pub.

Bryan ready for his zoo archaeology lecture

Bryan ready for his zoo archaeology lecture

The post-lecture meeting

The post-lecture meeting

Next week we’ll welcome the SHARP Human Remains team who will give us an update on their latest research findings and planned publications. See you in church 7:30 next Tuesday!

 

 

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The magic of archaeo-metallurgy

We’ve just started Week 3, and the season has hit cruising altitude with no less than four courses running concurrently, another trench open, and Open Day on the horizon.

Our courses got off to a flying start in Week 1, however, with the Archaeo-metallurgy course run by the fun, amazing (and extremely knowledgeable) Ellie.

The 2017 archaeo-metallurgy team

The 2017 archaeo-metallurgy team

Building the furnace brick by handmade brick

Building the furnace brick by handmade brick

Mixing muck for furnace bricks

Mixing muck for furnace bricks

The roasting furnace: fire and iron

The roasting furnace: fire and iron

Seven intrepid souls came along to venture forth into a world of casting and bellowing, starting from scratch to build a casting hearth and a smelting furnace, carving cuttlefish moulds and designing their very own creations to make and take home.

Finishing off a cast ring

Finishing off a cast ring

Kate's copper-alloy ankh

Kate’s copper-alloy ankh

Paul and his creation

Paul and his creation

Some of the week's new treasures

Some of the week’s new treasures

The course highlight was Thursday’s iron smelting – over 12 hours of bellowing, bonding and branding each other with tribal ‘paint’.

The rest of the site was invited along to help with the bellowing work and admire the show, as the smelting furnace sent sparks flying into the night.

Preparing charcoal for the smelting furnace

Preparing charcoal for the smelting furnace

Sunset over the evening smelting

Sunset over the evening smelting

Bellowing the furnace on the Thursday night smelting

Bellowing… bellowing… bellowing…

The magic of the furnace at night

The magic of the furnace at night

Pure iron

The precious results

After six days of hard work, everyone was very satisfied (if also quite tired and a little grubby) and agreed it was a great week of making and learning.

Ellie will be running her archaeo-metallurgy course again in 2018 – keep an eye on the website (sharp.org.uk) for dates to come along and make some magic of your own.

(And it’s Open Day this Sunday 23 July! 10-4 at the Boneyard – see you there)

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