It’s the Festival of Archaeology 11th to 19th July, organised by the Council for British Archaeology. The purpose of the week is to promote and raise awareness of archaeology. The festival is back for its 29th year offering hundreds more opportunities to get involved in archaeology across the UK.
This year the festival has been split into two. This is digital week and we are celebrating archaeology in North Somerset through rubbish archaeology (!), blogs, videos and learning resources. In fact, all kinds of events are taking place across the country, ranging from on line tours to digital reconstructions. From 24th October to 1 November there will be part two of the festival, an ‘on the ground’ celebration of all things archaeology. Watch this space…
So I thought I would start by introducing myself and what it is that I do. I studied history and archaeology at university followed by museum studies. It’s hard to get into heritage without those qualifications. I have worked as an archaeological recorder, a curator, an events coordinator, a learning and outreach officer on a major archaeology project at Hinkley Point power station in Somerset and also as a volunteer archaeological digger and finds assistant.
I have worked as a Community Liaison Officer at Weston Museum for the last 3 years and my role is really varied. I work with volunteers to organise community exhibitions, oversee oral history interviews, provide reminiscence session, give talks and support learning and events. Jobs in archaeology and heritage are certainly varied!
My job has changed since lockdown. Myself, colleagues and volunteers are working at home, embracing technology to communicate with the public.
This is my typical day:
8.30am I log on to emails (no I am not in pyjamas but I do have a mug of coffee to help me wake up!)
8.50am I read through and comment on the latest draft of a new primary school trail around town researched and designed by two of our museum volunteers, Fraser and Tom. I ask colleagues for their opinions. The volunteers are doing a fantastic job and have researched some of the local historic buildings and the history of Grove Park. This is part of a project to enhance the Know Your Place (KYP) website http://www.kypwest.org.uk. KYP is an online mapping resource that allows people to search historic maps, images and information for the west of England. Our particular project is enhancing the North Somerset section, training volunteers to upload images and information to the community layer of the site. All funded by a National Lottery Sharing Heritage grant and the Great Weston Heritage Action Zone.
9.30am I research historic information for a range of videos our team is producing aimed at families. We divide the work amongst ourselves so everyone has a role, whether it’s research, photography and filming, editing or proof reading. I have particularly enjoyed researching and writing a video script on Worlebury Iron Age hillfort in Weston-super-Mare. The draft script is sent to Cat Lodge, Senior Archaeologist at North Somerset Council, who checks for accuracy.
11.00am I contact one of volunteers Andrew, who has photographs of Steep Holm island in the Bristol Channel, that I’d like to use in my blog about Vikings. He sends them over and I finish writing the blog, publish on the museum website and do some further reading and note making. I am going to be filmed by one of our volunteers, Chris, about the Vikings. It’s important that I do my homework first!
12.30pm I chat to Chris on the phone. We discuss the video interview on the Vikings. We also chat about progress over planning for future community exhibitions. It’s helpful to chat rather than send each other lots of messages and we have a chat about how we are coping under lockdown.
1.00pm Time to have a quick lunch and to let the dog out into the garden.
1.30pm I spend time researching my next website blog on a Second World War Weapons Testing Establishment at Middle Hope, Kewstoke, just out of town. Luckily I have been able to utilise an oral history transcript from a local man who recalls his time as a schoolboy during the war. I also use images from the Know Your Place website and include Wessex Archaeology reports sent to me by Cat. The wonderful thing about working in heritage is that colleagues and volunteers are so willing to help and share information.
2.00pm I suddenly remember to add the link to the recent Vikings blog to the museum Facebook page, double checking that the link actually works! My colleagues and I spend a lot of my time creating content for social media, in order to make sure we reach out to a wide audience and to shout about what we do.
2.15pm Time for a Zoom meeting with my colleagues. Keeping in contact with colleagues is very important during the lockdown, in order to keep up to date, plan our work, coordinate our efforts and sometimes just to be social. It’s good to be joined by the occasional pet dog, cat or small child!
3.15pm I spend the last hour or thinking about the next phase of our digital content, coming up with ideas for museum objects to focus on, seeing what information we have on those objects and adding details to a spreadsheet that the team is sharing.
4.00pm I double check emails before finishing for the day.
I think readers may be surprised to know that a day in archaeology can be so much more than digging. Don’t get me wrong, I love digging and when the time is right I will seek out opportunities to get back in a trench or to catalogue some finds. But archaeology encompasses so many roles and for anyone thinking of making it your career, be prepared to upskill, change roles and keep an open mind. You’ll never know where it could lead but you can guarantee that you will work with fabulous like-minded people!
To find out more about a day in archaeology go to https://festival.archaeologyuk.org/day and #ADayInArchaeology