Imagine…October 13, 2012 Archaeology, LAARC, LAARC VIP, Volunteers
LAARC VIP11: Week 2
Picture the scene. Around 1900 years ago in this fine city called Londinium, a man, a tile maker, wakes up to the sound of his dog barking. He yawns, rubs his eyes and goes outside to see the beast chasing away an intruder, the only trace of whom is a hobnail shoe impression left on a clay tegula, laid out the night before in order to dry in the morning sunshine…
Fast forward a few centuries to find a lady preparing for a feast to celebrate the birth of her friend’s child. She combs her hair whilst her own children practice writing letters on the offcuts of bone and oyster shell that their father uses to make hairpins…
Whizz forward a whole load more centuries and the scene is chaos, smoke, fire. A couple dash out of their holdings passing their newly tiled fireplace as the flames begin to take hold.
All the above is simply a fabrication of my mind, yet every story comes from somewhere. As our new volunteer teams turned their attention this week from general finds (things looked at as assemblages) to registered finds (items with an individual importance) we started to come across some amazing archaeology. Their task was to carry out a massive audit of the bone, ceramic, glass, stone & wood archive from an excavation carried out in 1981 near Pudding Lane. Famous for its connection to the Great Fire, the site was rich with archaeology, from its time as a riverside street within Londinium (check out the hobnailed shoe impression left on a roman roof tile above) to the early medieval settlement which brought new items including grooming accessories (we got quite excited when we found that bone comb) and of course the Great Fire itself (the opening picture of the awesome wall tile with a seal on it dates to the mid 17th century)
Working through so many different materials meant a fine selection of artefacts were checked including a medieval bone ice skate, roman graffiti, a post med wine glass stem moulded to look like a lion’s mane and a superb jet stone roman finger ring:
So, some fun stuff for us to get our hands on. However, it’s not just about coming in contact with these goodies. The results of all the checking, sorting, packaging and reboxing of these objects ended with us gaining our first bit of extra shelf space. By simple, efficient, effective reboxing, amalgamating items whilst never overcrowding boxes, slowly slowly you end up emptying a box hear and there, leaving you with a little extra pocket of space for future archives.
If only we could share this fine work with you in person rather than via a blog huh? Well, soon we will! Our Wed team are a little different from the other days. Welcoming back the University of The 3rd Age for their 6th consecutive collaboration with LAARC, the team this year will be learning about the collections care work before transferring to the Museum of London foyer for their final 3 weeks to share it all with visitors!
This week they got to grips with packing roman pottery from Newgate street. Working their way through 7 boxes of muddled up sherds, they began repacking items into archive standard bags which transformed the accessibility of these ceramics. A couple of lovely bits cropped up too!
Their day ended with Glynn giving a run through of some of the records for the Newgate site, from initial correspondence to final publications. On the other days we were treated to the delightful Jacqui Pearce, who lead fantastic workshops focusing on the history and archaeological importance of clay tobacco pipes.
Keep track of our progress on Twitter #LAARCVIP #VIP11