Boxes, Bones & Brand New TeamsOctober 6, 2012 Archaeology, LAARC, LAARC VIP, Volunteers
LAARC VIP11: Week 1
It’s been a while but we’re back. Back with a new team of 25 volunteers. Back rummaging amongst the shelves in the Archaeological Store. Back discovering forgotten archaeological gems. Back to blog our way through everything we do for the next 10 weeks. It’s time for the 11th Volunteer Inclusion Programme!
A quick summary for those who’ve never heard of the Volunteer Inclusion Programme: Based in the World’s largest Archaeological Archive, over the next 10 weeks, 4 teams of volunteers will be working their way through boxes of archaeology dug up in the 1970s / 1980s and which are in need of some love, care and attention. The volunteers sort out the objects, pack them so they’re stored correctly, organise them so people can access them easily and all the while develop their knowledge of archaeology, archiving and London’s history whilst acquiring work based skills.
So what took place in week 1? Well once the morning inductions were done and dusted we started work on some fantastically shabby boxes from 1977. Perhaps that’s a bit unfair… a lack of funds and the passing of time have left these finds in a pretty poor state. Most of the objects (this week mainly fragments of animal bone and sherds of glass) have been stored in brown paper bags or worst still have been left loose inside the box. Thankfully the ‘context’ information – the all important number which pin points whereabouts on a site these objects were discovered – have been written on the artefacts themselves providing an accurate record to work off. So the first task our new teams had to do was write new labels and change the bags the objects live in.
Immediately we started to see results. Clear plastic bags allow you to see what’s inside; a label attached to the bag allows you to read the information pertaining to these objects. It’s all simple stuff but importantly, it’s simple but effective. Packing archaeology this way means you don’t even have to open the bag to view the contents (after all most damage to artefacts occurs via handling).
The actual stuff was pretty nifty – loads of animal bone found in dumping layers on what’s now Brentford High Street. Most of the bone seems to be the remains of food that people were eating: cow, sheep & pig; beef, lamb, pork. Having said this the odd large bit of jaw turned up – one which looks like it’s a horse mandible – giving an insight into the industrial aspects of the site too. Quote of the week came from one volunteer who having opened a box and suddenly being confronted with a large cow femur, raised her eyebrows and said “Wow! That’s so big!”
To create a bit of variation, we ended the day with a quick visit to our Ceramic & Glass store. It’s always a treat looking around the amazing collections stored within there (find out for yourself on a Behind the Scene Tour) and we took a whistle stop highlight tour, picking out some of the best bits.
So a smooth start. It’s on to Registered Finds next week as we lift the lids off the Pudding Lane archive and reveal details of our special Wednesday team’s project.
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