lakes lakes lakes

This weekend I traveled down to the Lakes District with the EUMC.  It’s my fourth time in Great Langdale, but, gosh, it’s always so pretty.  Even when it’s crap weather.

We left Edinburgh per usual on Friday night, arriving late and of course in the rain to the campsite.  I pitched my tent quickly… but of course everything got soaked anyway.  Saturday a group of us (Ellie, Tuva, myself, and some new members.  We were later joined by some veteran Yummicks as well.) walked to Pavey Ark for some good scrambling up Jack’s Rake.  The weather thankfully held out for us during the scramble which was nice.  For the laywoman, a scramble is more technical than a walk but does not require to be roped up like a pitching a climb.  Jack’s Rake was really fun with a few chimneys which required a little bit more climbing and some decent exposure down to the valley.

Here’s a photo of Pavey Ark, one of the Langdale Pikes.  I’ve drawn the green line to show our line of ascent.  This obviously it’s my photo (i stole it from wikipedia) because lol what is the sun?

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Here’s what it looked like for us.

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photo from Saturday's walk.

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Still nice tho.

After a long day, my feet were soaked and gross and wow am I glad I brought extra socks and talcum powder.  Tuva, Erling, and I cooked dinner at the campsite.  Then we all went to the pub.  We all love the pub.

Sunday morning was slower but just as exciting.  I took a larger group of newer members on a chilled valley walk to Ambleside to see the Roman Fort there.  I’d been there in first year, but knew the walk and it was pretty relaxing.  Wasn’t anything major but was a chance to see some of the smaller villages and valleys of the Lakes District.  It was 20km round trip, but was mostly flat and along well established trails so we kept good pace.

We stopped at the Roman fort just on the banks of Windermere, one of the larger lakes.  I showed my group the ruins of the Roman granary and we stopped for lunch.  I contained my feelings and didn’t cry this time lol.

Kennedy in granario est. #classicsismypassion #spqr5ever #iwalked20kmforthis

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We left the campsite on Sunday night a little after 6pm.  I got back to my flat around 10pm.  My feet are gross but it was a good weekend.

Yesterday, I had a volunteer meeting at the NMS and then later that night I watched the new episodes of Victoria and Outlander with Ellie, Caitlin, Sophie, and Urte.  I have never been more stressed in my entire life than I was during the last four minutes of this week’s episode of Outlander.  Then I came home and thought it was a good idea to stay up until 4.30 am to wait for the new Star Wars trailer because it was released America time.  Spoiler alert: it was completely a good idea.  I had a 9am lecture this morning and another two hour seminar coming up in a bit.

I’m v tired. l8r.

… and these are a few of my favorite things.

I discussed in the last post that Fall is my favorite time of year and it got me thinking about my favorite things about Edinburgh.  So here is list of some things that I like.

Coffee

I really enjoy going to Black Medicine because they make massive cups of coffee.  However, I find it more crowded in the afternoons and if I’m needing to work I’ll go to Spoon instead.  If I’m in New Town, I really enjoy Wellington’s, although I find myself at the Princes Street Starbucks more often than not.  Partly because there are plenty of tables but also because the Castle in just in view outf of the large windows and if that doesn’t inspire you then I don’t know what will.

Museums 

I’m biased but I still stand by the fact that the National Museum is the best museum in Edinburgh.  It’s got everything.  The admission is free, the bathrooms are clean, there’s water fountains, and plenty of places to hide in the ‘Early People’s Gallery.’  And there’s also the roof garden.  But, the National Gallery is also excellent and do have more (and more comfortable) places to sit down.

Green Space 

The Meadows are awesome and close.  But, Holyrood Park is gigantic and has a 15c Chapel Ruin.  Idk man all the parks are great.  Princes Street garden is very underrated and well, Calton Hill is a little overrated.  But also, the cemeteries in Edinburgh are great?  The old Calton Burial Grounds has one of my favourite tombstones in the city and a massive bronze statue to Abe Lincoln.

Pubs

Obviously.  Anything in the Grassmarket is going to be crowded. Sandy Bell’s has awesome folk music in the evening but is small and gets crowded very quickly.  Bennet’s has a fantastic wooden barback but is a little out of the way.  Dagda sells salami.  The Argyll bought out the Cellar Monkey and hosts awesome pub quizzes on Thursday night.  The Blind Poet closes and I still cry and Pear Tree went ‘firmly middle class.’ Teviot doesn’t accept foreign IDs and still frustrates me.

Castles 

It’s gotta be the one that I can see from my shower. You know that one in the center of town?  The one I still have to give directions to tourists for?  Yeah, that one.

Books

What even is reading for fun anymore?  I don’t know as I cry through another academic journal article.  But, eh. I finally finished reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  Timeline by Michael Crichton made me extremely jealous.  Percy Jackson will always hold a speical place in my heart.

Movies/TV

The Defenders on Netflix still really has me fucked up and and I haven’t been able to watch Rogue One again without gross sobbing.  Also, if Rey isn’t a Kenobi and turns out to be a Skywalker I will flip this table and fight someone.

Okay now that I have your attention… I’d just like to take this second to use this platform to discuss some current events happening in my home country.

If you’ve been even remotely aware of the news you’ll know that the US had the largest mass shooting in history in Las Vegas last week.  59 people lost their lives and over 500 people are injured.  The shooter was a 64 year old white male with no criminal history but a lot of guns and apparently a lot of pent up anger.  This even comes after last year’s attack against the LGBTQA+ community at the Pulse Nightclub which killed 49 people.

On a smaller scale but no less terrifying, my hometown experienced a shooting on our main street, Massachusetts.  Five people were injured and out of the five, three have died.

For my European friends, the concept of gun violence is mostly foreign with most European countries either outright banning the right to possess firearms or making it very, very, very difficult.  I’ve been the spokesperson for my country to a lot of them trying to explain just how easy and how fucked up our guns laws are in America.  How it is more difficult to get a driver’s license than it is to buy a gun.  How it is more difficult to get into university than it is to buy a gun.  How it is more difficult to adopt a pet than it is to get a gun.  How most states allow you to carry a firearm, either concealed or open into public spaces which include universities.

We have a problem.  There is nothing being done to fix it and it is only getting worse.  Legislature which would restrict firearms is continually being blocked and instead laws which allow people to carry on university campuses are being passed.

Take a minute and think this over please.  Think about what this means for the future safety of millions of people.  Think about how lucky you are when you can go to a concert and wake up the next day with a hangover instead of as a name in a long list of people who weren’t so lucky.  How you can go out for a night with your friends and how you can go and get an education all without being caught in the crossfires of a deadly piece of equipment that has no reason being there.

Take this minute and then do something about it.  Write to your local council, your state government, your national representatives, etc.  Attend gun safety courses, lectures, or just read a pamphlet.  Buy a proper gun safe if you have firearms or find a safe place to get rid of them.  If you are in the position, please donate blood.  Just don’t sit there.  Doing nothing won’t change anything.

 

 

 

happy october.

heyo!

I’m a little lost as to what to write about now… it’s year 3 and there’s little new to my daily routine now as days.  And, I don’t want to dull you all with just pointless recaps of everything.  So, readers at home… if you have any questions about Scotland, Uni, etc… hit me up.

But, I’m enjoying my classes. I love my wonderful city.  It’s my favourite time of year now with the trees changing colors and such… so that’s quite nice.  Edinburgh is such a fall city it’s unreal at times… with all the trees, and the old stone buildings, and the closes…

It’s like the physical embodiment of a pumpkin spice latte.

And!  After fall, is Christmas.  I. Love. Christmas.  The flatmates and I went to the supermarket on Friday and they already had mince pies and Christmas cookies out!  I nearly died of excitement.

I’ve been knitting a bit here and there lately.  I’ve nearly finished the burgundy scarf I’ve been working on for this autumn.  And I’ve been writing.  Nearly 20k of workable stuff on a new manuscript.

So, things I guess have been pretty relaxed here as of late.  Nothing too stressful just yet, but essays are creeping up.

I’m still a little sick, allergy season, but I took the day out to stay home and clean and get better.  I made a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and watched the Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon.  I don’t have class on Mondays, but I will spend the day reading for my lecture and seminar on Tuesday.  It’s actually nice this year that I usually have a full day or an afternoon to read for the next day.  I’ve been keeping on top of my reading a lot more this year… which is something I would really like to keep up with.

The weathers been a bit shitty all weekend with rain and wind yesterday and today.  But, it’s just given me an extra excuse to stay in.

So, yep.  That’s about it for now.

 

week one

Sorry for the radio silence, things have been a bit busy here over the past week.

Last week was my first week back at University.  The week before that had been Freshers’ Week and was full of plenty of events to keep me busy.

Since I’m on the committee for the EUMC again this year I helped out at the Fresher’s Sports Fair and then helped out on the Cobbler meet.  It’s my third time to the Cobbler, but things were a little bit different this year.  I’ve got new knee braces and walking poles.  I looked like an absolute Grandmother, but honestly for the first time in about six years my knees didn’t cause me any problems.  If you’re new to my life, I’ve got some genetic abnormalities in how my patellas articulate which has caused tendonitis in both knees and has led to a few cases of ‘snap-back’ dislocation.  Yay.  I’ve been wearing some form of knee brace since I was fourteen and been through therapy for them multiple times, and while it’s always caused problems I’ve really tried to not let it stop me from enjoying sports etc.  So, when I only experiencing the type-2 fun of ‘why am I walking long distances for fun’ and not the type-3 fun of ‘I would rather step in a bear trap than have to use my legs’ I was pretty ecstatic.

… and I'll be back in Scotland.

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My classes started up on Tuesday with a 9 AM lecture for History in Theory.  It’s one of my required classes and while it’s probably going to be a bit dry, I think I’m going to enjoy it.  Our lectures are over a variety of topics from Marxist History to Gender Theory.  I also had a seminar for my Conflict Archaeology class.  I am really excited for this course and I was really glad that I got a space in it as it is normally way over subscripted. Especially exciting is that during the semester Douglas D. Scott is coming to give a guest lecture!  Scott was one of the leading Conflict Archaeologists who basically 1) invented the discipline as we know it today and 2) lead major works on the Battle of Little Bighorn which basically reinvented our understanding of the battle!

My skool is kweel. #year3

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Wednesday I had the day off and while I didn’t do much this week, I know in the coming weeks I’ll be glad to have a reading day!

Thursday I had another 9 AM lecture for History in Theory.  Thursday night was the first EUMC social of the year.  Gregor and I were marshals at one of the pubs on the crawl list and had invented a fantastic challenge of having participants eat cream crackers whilst downing a pint.  Since I had to get up early the next day for a 9-11 Archaeology seminar I planned on not staying out too terribly late. ‘Planned’ is the key word in that sentence.  And additionally, with Tuva home sick Gregor, Erling, and I had no adult supervision which learning from past experiences is never a good thing…

Friday morning I had a my Archaeology seminar about Community Archaeology at 9 AM. I made it.  I participated in the discussion.  I went home.

Saturday we celebrated Caitlin’s birthday (the fool’s real birthday was over the summer, but apparently our Facebook posts weren’t enough smh).  Saturday night I thrilled to find ‘Dirty Dancing’ had been added to Amazon Prime.

a mood™

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And today, I’ve spent the afternoon reading for my History in Theory lecture and then tomorrow I’ll read for my Conflict Archaeology course.  I’ll be starting in on my assignments soon as they are all due in a massive group at the end of November and I’m gonna die if I procrastinate.

out from under the rock

Coming at you live from the carpeted floor at the Chicago O’Hare Airport… it’s Year 3. 

(apologies if there’s spelling errors, I’m typing on the WordPress App and there’s no spell check. Why tho.)

After one of the hottest and busiest summers to date, I took the last 3.5 weeks to relax with my family, spend time with my one true love (my cat Rory), and binge watch the hell out of Daredevil and The Defenders.  But, it’s time to crawl out from under the rock I’ve been hiding under and get back into the world.

This morning I caught a skipper flight from Kansas City to Chicago where I am waitng for my flight back to Scotland.  I’m getting back just in time to help out the EUMC with Freshers and turn in the last of my paperwork from my excavations so the University can give me my money back.  Yay. 

Coming up this week, I’ve got a meeting with my personal tutor and the Sports Fair on Wednesday.  Thursday is the Fresher’s Preview and then on Friday, I’m back out into the Highlands for the Freshers’ Day Trip to the Cobbler.  Being so busy with excavations this summer, I didn’t get that many quality mountian days in so I am excited to get back out.  

Courses this year look pretty great as well.  First semester, I have two required classes (History in Theory and Archaeology in Practice).  My third course for the semester is ‘Here Comes the War: Conflict Archaeology and Forensic Science.’  I’m actually really excited for this one as it’s going to look at battlefield archaeology, ethics, etc.  Second semester, I only have one required course (Theory Archaeology).  The other two are ‘Crusades and Medieval Society’ and ‘Archaeological Illustration.’  

And that’s enough with the logisitical stuff.  It goes without saying that I’m excited to go back.  Year 3 is the first of the final two honours years, so I will begin to start thinking about what I’m going to write my disseration on and I’ll continue to research Masters programs.  I’m really leaning toward writing my diseration about Museum work and getting a Masters in Museum Studies.  

I’ve been volunteering at the NMS for nearly two years now and I’ve really learned a lot about how musuems run and the variety of jobs in the museum sector.  I love working with artifacts and creating displays, but honestly, my favorite is teaching people and learn new things myself.  So far I’ve worked mostly with the NMS’s youth team to plan events and help out when local schools visit, but I’d like to get into the wider educational side of museum work as well. 

I really think musuems have a unique opportunity to engage with the general public in a different way than a university.  If anything, many people only get to university to study History or Archaeology because they were inspired by a museum or a teacher.  And also, I mean, hell, we’ve got to invest in today’s youth if we have any chance of fixing things.  I remember a few times, when I was younger, being written off or been talked down to by older professionals.  On the flip side, I’ve met amazing academics who took the time to explain things to me and answer my questions instead of just treating me like an annoying kid (and, I mean, I’m not denying that I wasn’t an annoying kid…) and it made all the difference.  Because, if you don’t engage with them, if you talk down to them, and if you treat them like they’re stupid… there goes your next generation of historians, archaeologists, teachers, politicians, inventors, writers, artists… you get the idea. 

Young people who are interested in History aren’t stupid and sometimes they actually know a lot more so, eh, I really hope that in some small way I can work to fix that through museum work.  And I’d love to continue to work with that at the NMS because I honestly really love it there and I think they’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up.  

But, that’s me off my soap box.  Thanks for reading. 

I’ll try to keep this blog updated over the semester with the (cool?) stuff I’m doing.  I’ve only got a bit of time left before I board my plane and I still have to download enough Daredevil comics to last 7.5 hours. 

an interview with a roman

It’s bright and early here in London!  Writing this currently from the Starbucks at Gatwick.  As per usual, with travel anxeity and increasing lines at airports I got here early.  I flew back from Naples yesterday and spent the night at the hotel here at Gatwick.  I wish I could have gone into London for the day, it’s super easy to catch the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station and the the Tube to anywhere in the city… but no time.  

Anyway, you’re used to the format now.  Here is the daily log from my third and final excavation for the summer. And apologies for lack of photos on this post, I’m writing off of my iPad on the WordPress app and I don’t know how to add photos.  If you want photos, there’s some on my Instagram.  (Right side of the blog) Also, there’s probably some spelling errors, because 1) I’m a terrible speller and 2) I’m typing on the app. 

Appoline Project (July 30-Aug 13) 

July 30

Day one of project.  Woke up at 2 this morning to catch flight to Naples.  Arrived at at 10.25 to Central Train Station.  Waited until 5 to be picked up and take to site house in Aeclanum, an hour outside of Naples.  Tomorrow will met at 8.10 for site tour and then begin class work!  Very exciting stuff. 

July 31 17.19 

Day One.  Lecture on Bioculture and Intro to Osteology.  Practicals included articulating a skeleton.  We did well and I learned hot to distinguish clavicals!  I ALWAYS mess it up.  Second practical was over defining terms and describing an image using anotomical terms.  I really enjoyed today.  We are working on site in Aeclanum, so as I am working I am able to look out at the site.  Aeclanum is a partially excavated city on the Appian Way which connected southern Italy to Rome during the hight of the Empire.  There is a Theatre, Bath Complex, and Forum on site.  

The site continued into the Medieval period as we saw a Baptismal Font for a church and the nave of a church as well.  And!  There is a beautiful mosiac in the Bath Complex.  

August 1 18.20   

This morning we had a lecture over sexual dimorphism and then a practical where we cleaned skeletons.  It was very hot today.  Returned for lunch and then had a lecture about ‘Race’ and if it can be used for osteological analysis.  I’m really enjoying how the course is combining ethical questions with the science.   I also just really like talking about ethics. 

Our practical today was over crania and identifying features to determine sex.  

I stated late to finish the cranium I was cleaning from before lunch.  It was really interesting because not only was it a complete skulls but it had the first six cervical vertebrae still articulated!  Basically they lifted the entire head and neck during excavation.  This is common practice and how I excavated at Poulton as it avoids damanging the remains in the field. 

The cranium belonged to a young female adolescent from the Roman period.  She had non-metirc traits which included a myopic suture.  A myopic suture is when your frontal bone does not fuse into one bone but remains two.  She was probably 16-18 based on dentition as her third molar had just emerged. 

Can’t know for sure, but it’s pretty amazing to be cleaning the remains of a girl who may have come to Aeclanum for the Theatre or the Baths.   Makes you really think about how people moved.  Thinking about writing about stable isotopes and migration for my disseration… 

August 2 

Today we had a lecture over ageing.  And practicals using inominents and craniums to age.

In the afternoon we had a lecture over bone growth and then a practical over juvenials.  We had to articualte a juvenial skeleton which included having to deal with epiphysial plates… and then age them according to plate fusion.  Kids are born in pieces and our bones fuse as we age. 

Our remains were from the Medieval period.  After arranging them we measured the long bones and compared them against ratios for age.  The ratios listed the remains as 9-10.  However, teeth which included the 3rd Molar in the vault but not yet erupted  and the proximal fusion of the plate on the right ulna put the age up to 14-16.  This is why multiple ageing techniques are important! 

August 3

Today was all about teeth!  Really fun stuff today!  Lecture in the morning over tooth formation and tooth pathology.  

This afternoon we had practicals on ageing based on teeth.  Did really well and was able to correctly age!  Did one adult 30-55 but probably closer to 30-40 and a child 6-8.  Was able to tell age based on wear patterns for adults and the eruption of teeth, or still rooted decidious teeth for the children. 

Today was also really, really hot so we spent the last part of the day cleaning. (Side note: the heat wave currently in Southern Europe is called Lucifer.  It is literally hotter than Hell here.)   I really enjoy cleaning as it helps to cement the knowledge of things from the textbook.  I also learn through handleling objects so being able to work with bone is a huge help.  

Tomorrow is pathology and trauma.  

I am really enjoying working with the collections and getting a chance to test what I had learned at Uni on a very practial scale.  However, I am constantly reminded of the humanitiy of what I am studying.  That these were and are still, first and foremost, human beings.  It is a fantastic chance to glimspe into the past… but I must never attempt to make up their lives… I also cannot forget that they had them as well.  It’s the connectiveness and disconnectivness that is critical.  You have to sense the humanity but not allow that to create falsehoods about your study. 

August 7 17.26 

Friday, was pathology day with lectures and then a pracitcal analzing a full set of remains for pathology.  

We judged the remains to be male with degenerative joint disease.  This had caused eburnation on the right side (the polishing of bone due to bone on bone contact in a joint.  It looked like the bone has been painted with clear nail polish.)  Friday afternoon we cleaned more bones.

Today was continued with pathology with a lecture in the morning.  Cleaning before lunch and then defining long bones and measuring for stature.  

Over the weekend we went to Margarita Di Savovia for the beach, swimming, and the Adractic Coast.  I saw Crotia across the water. 

August 10 13.11 

Tuesday, No lecture in the morning, so to site for more cleaning.  We returned in the afternoon for a lecture on diet. 

Wednesday, paleodiet lecture about nutrition and the adaptation of humans to farmning.  In the afternoond we had a debate over ethics and if human remains have ‘agency’ and also how/should we display human remains.  

This morning we had presentations over an artical on diet.  Ours looked at 3-5c CE Roman Catacombs. The remains had enriched ratios of dN15 and and about standard rations of dC13.  This is indicative of a diet consisting of a large amount of fish and C3 plants.  (These sort of tests are run by doing stable isotope analysis on bones to see what their chemical signature is.)  Basing on the age of the reamins and the nature of the burial, it was concluded that these were early Christians… who as expected would be eating fish. 

August 11 18.36 

Yesterday afternoon we analysed  a complete skeleton. 

Today we have a report on our findings.  Ours was probably male (40-50 yrs).  Signs of DJD on the Lumbar vertebrae and eburnation on right distal end of femar (medial condyle). 

Today was the last day.  I really enjoyed my time here.  We had a group dinner yesterday, and while I am sad to leaving I am excited to see my cat. 

I am really thinking about pursuing Osteo-Arch as a masters/future career.  However, I also really enjoy working in Museums and engaging with the public to help teach people about history.  Maybe I’ll think of a way of combining working in a msueum with currating remains?? 

— 

And that’s that.  My summer excavations are complete and while I am sad I am ready to sleep in a real bed for more than 3 nights!  Uni starts up in a month and along with it Third Year!  Haven’t gotten my courses yet, but if I played it right I won’t have any exams.  I explictly chose courses with 100% coursework. 

I’m flying to Orlando to meet up with my parents.  They’ve told me that they also brought along my mutant sister. 

Last thing I’ll say, after landing in London yesterday and checking the news. For fucks sake people.  Have we learned nothing from the past?  As an archaeologist, I’m also going to leave this here.  But, fucking hell, just be nice to people and treat each other with some goddamn respect.  I would say it’s childish, but that’s an insult to children who know better. 

With the highest tolerance I can muster, 

urs. Kennedy 

 

amigas, cheetahs, friends for lyfe.

It’s always nice to see your friends – especially ones you haven’t seen in over a year.

This week, the down week between me getting back from Bamburgh and then jet setting it off to Italy to hang out with dead people (re: I’m taking an Osteology Course near Pompeii), I had one my best friends from American come and visit.

Mallory and I had suffered through *American High School* together so we’ve been through a lot.  She had been in Ireland this summer working at the Trinity College Library in Dublin.  She’s a pretty cool person doing European Studies with a focus on Museums at University right now.

She arrived late on the 22nd and I walked down to meet her at Waverly Station.  After that I spend the next week showing her around the lovely city of Edinburgh.  We went to lots of museums: The National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum.  And drank a metric shit ton of coffee.  One of our favourite activities is to sit at a coffee shop for prolonged periods of time and drink enough coffee to feel our hearts palpitating.  Great fun.

We also explored plenty of *creepy* graveyards and went to the cat cafe where Mallory harassed a hairless cat wearing a hoodie.

spooky haunts with the bestie from the westie.

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Mallory speaks to a cat whilst imitating some geometric Italian art. #candid #catcafe

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And brunch! We went for brunch on multiple days.  Brunch is one of our favourite activities.

Basically we’re already old ladies.  We actually discussed the ‘Are you a Twenty Something Grandmother’ Buzzfeed quiz where we had both scored over 80%.

We also went to the Royal Botanical Garden on a particular sunny day.  I’d never been before, having attempted multiple times but always getting lost and then somehow ending up in Leith with blistered feet… long story.  The garden stretches over 72 acres and features a variety of plants.  Some are very big.

I'm standing on my toes.

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On one of the rainy days we went to go see the new film Dunkirk.  Mal and I sat in the corner and cried for the entire duration of the film.  We are also both very frequent criers, especially if the topic includes anything historical.

But anyway, we had a great time.  Not to be sentimental, but living abroad has really made me understand that I make friendships with people in different ways now.  Since I don’t get to see many of my friends on a daily basis, I mostly communicate with them via social media or sometimes when I’m feeling really elderly I’ll send letters.

But, just because I don’t see a person as frequently as others doesn’t make that friendship any less important to me.  It’s actually really incredible when I do go online and get to see what cool things my amazing friends are up to all over the world.  It makes the world a much smaller and connected place and it just means that when I do get to finally see a friend it’s all the better. ❤

 

summer with the anglo-saxons

Hi all! It’s me.  Still alive and probably still a nuisance.  I just got back from my five week excavation at Bamburgh Castle along the Northumbrian coast.  I’m still super tired but the last five weeks have been amazing.  Here’s a quick run-down of the excavation from my excavation journal for the viewers at home.

12 June, 17.45 

First day at Bamburgh Castle excavation!  Arrived yesterday via train from Edinburgh.

Today we had a site tour, health and safety, and general info.  We are working in the outer ward of the castle with two trenches.  Trench 1 is located near St. Oswald’s Gate, the original 7c entrance to the castle.  Trench 3 is located closer to the inner ward of the castle in an area that has been identified as a manufacturing center with evidence of metalworking and animal processing.

We then took a tour of the Excavation offices located in the 19c windmill.  This is where most of the post excavation work is carried out.  We got a chance to see a multitude of finds from the project including bone artifacts and metals like iron, lead, and even gold.

We began to clean Trench 3 after removing the tarps and sandbags.  Cleaning a Trench means that you remove the top few millimeters of wash-in soils to reveals the colour changes of the archaeology below.

Trench 3 showed evidence of a structure with two cobbled paths.  The current level of excavation is around the 7/8c.  There is a large amount of animal bone as well as evidence of metalworking.  As stated, the current assumption about the site is that it was the manufacturing portion of the castle, near the entrance, with finished goods then taken into the inner ward.

13 June, 17.53

Day 2 complete.  Continued to clean back Trench to reveal colors of the features.  Nearly finished with cleaning and will start excavation in few days.

During cleaning, I uncovered an iron nail!  It was catalogued as a small find and given a number for the records.

A lot of animal bone has continued to come up so the site continues to support the ideas of a production center.

Excited to begin trench excavation.

14 June, 19.55

Finished cleaning trench today.  Took photographs of pre-excavation levels.  Will begin proper excavation tomorrow.

I was cleaning the ‘Roman’ area of the trench.  So-called because of the samian ware found in a hole in 2011.  This bedrock on this side of the trench is located higher up but is equal stratigraphically with the other side of the trench.  However, because Roman finds have been coming up on this portion of the trench, work in this area will stop until the Roman level is reached on the other side of the trench as well.

We have the castle tour tomorrow, which should be good to see with our supervisors leading the way.

Overall, I am really enjoying the site and learning a lot.

June 15, 18.54

Worked on Trench 1 today!  The Trench is nearly complete with aims to close at the end of the season.  I finished cleaning a feature, planned, and took a photo.

Today we also had a tour of the castle.  We learned more about the site and the history of the castle.

June 17, 19.21

Yesterday I worked Finds.  I floated samples, sieved, and worked in the windmill for a bit.  The Windmill is where all the records are kept and finds are managed.

As for floatation, I am always so surprised at the material recovered.  Basically, floatation consisted of taking soil samples from the trench and stimulating them in a large tank with running water.  This causes lighter organic material like charcoal and even burnt seeds to float to the top and into a collection bag.  The skill is really useful for collecting data about past environments like what I was doing in Romania last summer.  It’s a really useful way of analysing the site… I just really hate having to go through the process.

Excavation on site will continue tomorrow as I help to plan more of Trench 1 before it closes.

*heavy breathing* took my day off from excavation down to Alnwick.

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As for today, I had the day off and went to Alnwick (pronounced An-Ick).  I went to Barter Books as the recommendation of my friend Sophie.  The bookshop is HUGE! and is located in the old Alnwick Railway Station.  They basically just covered over the Platforms with boards and put in tons and tons of bookshelves and filled then with thousands of used books.  *heavy breathing*   After going to the bookshop, I went to the castle.  The castle was incredibly opulent and the library inside was ridiculous, I could not believe some of the title they had! Leather bound copies of both the Chronicles of Froissart and Monstrelet aka the closest we have to eyewitness accounts of the Hundred Years War including the best account for the Battle of Agincourt!  Alnwick castle was also the filming location for the first Harry Potter movie and was used for exterior scenes of Hogwarts!  And it was the birthplace of Henry Percy aka Harry Hotspur who helped to put Henry IV on the throne and then later became rivals to the family and according the Shakespeare a direct rival to Henry V.

Causal castle crying.

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I work again tomorrow and Monday starts Week 2.

June 18, 18.04

Worked at the castle today putting a stair access into the trench by cutting back the turf and shoveling dirt.  This is because the ramp used as a second access point will soon be re-sucked back into the trench as Trench 8 (an old trench dug by Brian Hope-Taylor in the 1960s) will be reopened for re-evaluation.  The stairs will serve to allow access in. This a very important part in site planning and health and safety.

Additionally, after a long day of hard work in a surprisingly hot Northumbrian sun we ate ice cream and went for a swim on the beach.

19 June, 18.30

First day of Week 2!

Excavated a shell midden to start which proved to be a very complex feature with evidence of multiple dumping acts over a period of some time.  There were layers of shell beneath layers of sediments.

Next, I cleaned the feature in the corner and planned it.  Unsure as to just what the feature is as there are many different context boundaries and colour shifts.  It is intriguing that there is a near perfect darkened rectangle in the middle of the orange clay feature.  Possible burnt area?  Possible post hole?

June 20, 17.24

Worked a long day today.  Excavated the feature I planned yesterday.  Revealed to be a burning site, potentially in situ!!  As I found evidence of fire cracked stones.  Large stones were used as a means of boiling large vats of water quickly or could have been used to line a hearth.  However, the bone found in the area did not show evidence of burning. It was a more redish hue which could mean that it was boiled, connecting it to the fire cracked stones.

I collected two sample buckets of the burnt context for further analysis and then filled in context sheets, plan forms, and photos.

June 21, 18.24

Today I began a cross section of a possible feature.  I planned, leveled, and began to find the edges of the context.  This was in the afternoon.  In the morning, it finally rained and we went inside the Windmill and washed finds.

I am getting along great with everyone on site and am really enjoying the excavation.  I am a little tired though and probably a little bit more grumpy than usual.  But, it’s been 3.5 weeks camping for me now.  (1.5 on excavation and the two weeks before that going up to the Bothy and then the Road Trip).  My grumpiness could be linked to that or the kinks in my back.  I plan to take evening to read a little and go to sleep early.

Tonight we have a lecture about the Bowl Hole, the cemetery found outside the castle a few years back.  I am very excited for this lecture.

June 22, 17.39

Today I helped with the ramp building along Trench 8.

Trench 8 is to be re-evaluated once a safety ramp is constructed.  I shoveled dirt, belayed buckets out of the trench, etc.  No actual excavation today but setting up a proper area to work in is just as important as the actual work itself!  No one wants to become part of the archaeology!

And it was pretty fun to get some rope work in.  I used a hip belay to bring up buckets from the Trench.  Archaeology and mountaineering knowledge… am I Lara Croft yet?

24 June, 21.38

Yesterday I continued to clear out the backfill of Tench 8.  Again, T8 is the location where Hope-Taylor found the two swords and the axes in the 1960s.  We are reopening it to 1) Check the records are correct for publication and 2) Connect T8 to the cobbled path in T3 were last year a copper Anglo-Saxon bird plate was found.

We shoveled more buckets of backfill and will continue on Sunday when I work again.

Today I am off to Edinburgh to do my laundry and water my plants.

25 June, 19.46

Today we worked to plan a cross section of a pit by measuring out the grid, measuring rocks in the cross slab.  We did this by taking grid points aka eastings and northings.

Good day today with good work.  Easy Sunday.  I am excited to get back to work tomorrow.

week 2/5 complete on this lovely site with an equally lovely view.

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26 June, 18.25

Today I filled in context sheets for the tri-pit.  So called because this feature is a pain in the ass.  It was thought to be a single pit.  Until two more pits were found cut into an older pit in the center.  However the southern pit has been truncated by an early section excavated in the 1960s.

The feature was half-sectioned and I filled in sheets for the section completed.  It was very confusing attempting to establish a chronology for the feature because you first need to locate the cut lines in the half section of the wall.

After completing the paperwork, for the half section the other side of the pit was excavated.  Samples were taken of the first two pits.  Each pit had to be excavated separately as to keep the samples with the least amount of contamination.

Tomorrow it is due to rain and I will be working Finds.

living the tent life day 32. #archaeology

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28 June, 17.15

Yesterday it rained.

Today I finished excavation of the pit feature, previously called the tri-pit… now is the quad-pit. Today there was even evidence of a possible post hole burning with a perfect circle of charcoal appearing the new pit cut into the pit.

We realised that the multitudes of pits inter-cutting each other had made the feature look bigger than it actually was.  But, there was no way of telling the boundaries of the feature without excavation.

Lastly, the pit shows (maybe?) a relation to a know floor surface.  Was the floor surface cut into?

hello MTV welcome to my tent home. It's currently raining so I spent the day working on post-ex.

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1 July, 11.59

Sorry haven’t recorded.  Thursday it rained.  So we worked finds in the morning and in the afternoon we took a trip to Lindisfarne.  We got to see the island, the priory, and walked along the beach.  It was a beautiful island and amazing to see the connections between Lindisfarne and Bamburgh.

Friday was another rainy day spent working on finds.  I sorted the environmental finds in the morning and finds washed in the afternoon.  All in all two good rainy days.

It’s been a little hectic lately with the living situation.  A group of us got majorly flooded out of our tents on Friday.  With our tents flooded all our kit got pretty soaked and the staff who had stayed at the campsite spent the day drying kit and making sure nothing was super wrecked.  It was awfully nice of them.  But, you can’t really return to a tent once it’s had nearly 2L of water poured out of it.  So I now find myself with the other students in an AirBNB here in Belford.

3 July

Yesterday I worked back in T8.  Continued to shovel backfill until the section edge reached 1.20m.  The legal working height for an open trench with small sides is 1.20m again health and safety.

Today I planned the stupid quad-pit and it still proved to a pain in the ass.  But the context is now closed.  Afterward I helped one of the staff members to locate a missing trench edge from an old plan that had unfortunately not been finished or included grid points.  By using the context register and old photos from 2002 we were able to locate the plan and then I started to remove the turf to uncover the edge.

6 July

Happy Fourth of July from the metal workshops of a soggy Anglo Saxon stronghold. #archaeology

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Tuesday was the fourth of July spent in rainy Northumbria.  We worked in Trench 8 on the section plan until the rain puddled too much and we had to move to Finds.  I spend the afternoon working to track down missing samples from the Kaims which had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle a few years back.

Wednesday was sunny so we did a full clean of Trench 1.  So that it could be photographed.  T1 is again the trench by St. Oswald’s gate was thought to be complete until about 18 new features surfaced after the amount of rain we got last week. Wednesday afternoon I worked on Finds.

Today was the day!  We started the morning by going back to Lindisfarne to see the excavation being carried out there.  Looks like they found a new church!

That afternoon, I started to remove and sample the 9c pebbled surface.  The pebbled surface ran adjacent to the 9c metal working building in the SE corner of the trench.  I’m working on the area and today was excavation was recorded to later be used in some media uploads for the excavation.   The surface is between two rows of curb stones and consisted of many layers of stone deposit.  I have already found animal bone, teeth, and charcoal.  Basically, things people would have dropped or lost.  With it’s proximity to the metal workshop I am hoping to maybe find metal objects or coins.  The last part of the day I id’d a cut feature in the path which had been called a post hole.

I’m really proud to be able to work this pebbled path because it’s a really important part of the trench.

9 July

Friday I continued to clean away the surface.  We planned and photographed the area.  This included having to off sight plan by using a temporary bench mark.  We then used the tape measures to off sight the eastings and northings.

We did id a definite post hole on Friday and today I half-sectioned the post hole for sampling.  The post hole rests against one of the large curb stones and so the curb stone was probably used as a packing stone for the post.

While I was excavating the post hole my working partner half sectioned the path so that we could see the layers of stratigraphy.

After a bit time it became apparent we had entered a new layer as small pebble stones stopped and a layer of shell emerged followed back a layer of cobbles.  Next to the new layer of cobbles is what appears to be a sandstone area.

The curb stones on either side of the part are very deeply imbedded and will an absolute bitch to excavate out.

13 July

Monday, continued to work on pavement for half day and then moved to work on cleaning back trench edge on east side to reveal matching statifigaphy to missing plan.

Tuesday, worked finds.  I sorted between animal bone and human bone from old bone bags from the Bowl Hole.  Actually found a human finger mixed into the older bags.

Wednesday, worked on the cobbled path.  Removed layer of cobbles and sandstone to find that the cobbled path discovered last season underlays our area!  How big is this path?!  Also found another medieval hobnail!

Thursday, continued with cobbled path with planning and photography.

Today, last friday at the castle.  Very good season.  Today I was on Finds.  Worked through five bags of samples. I really enjoyed this season and as I weigh my options for next summer, I am really considering returning.

Last week of excavation here and I'm sad.

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In 793 there were Viking ships in this water. 😱😱

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The excavation was really incredible and the site was in a beautiful location with the sea crashing up onto the nearby beach.  I am so glad that I was able to excavate here and again, I am so glad that I chose to study archaeology.  It gives me a chance to get out into the field but also stay in and work with records and books.  It’s an incredible feeling waking up each morning and entering a castle to work.  There were times when I was excavating the pebble path that I thought just how many feet had trodden over the surface and that I was now amongst them.  I guess it’s just like the pull of mountaineering.  To be able to go places and see things that few people will ever get to see.

On Saturday, a group of reenactors came to the castle to stage mock fights.  They pitched tents in the outerward by our excavation.  I shut my eyes and listened to the clanging of metal swords and spears as I worked.  For a brief minute, as I uncover the Anglo-Saxon world I got to be a small part of it and was re-learning what we once knew.

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whoa-o we’re halfway there

Hello friends!  It’s me.  Back in civilisation after a month of traveling around and living in the ~great outdoors~.  But just for a bit.

I’ve just finished week two (of five) of the Bamburgh Research Project.  I’m excavating at Bamburgh Castle aka the Anglo-Saxon capital of Northumbria.  There are three weeks left of the excavation but I caught a ride back up to Edinburgh to water my plants, do my laundry, and check up on things around here.

Just quickly because I’ll write a longer post at the end of the excavation, I’ve been working in the outer ward of the castle which was used as a manufacturing centre for the castle.  Think metal working, smithing, and animal production.  Past excavations have uncovered everything from patent welded swords to a metric fuckton of animal bone.  I’m staying in Belford with the rest of the excavation crew, in you guessed it, another tent!  And you guessed it, my back hates me.

We spend the first week cleaning out the trench and setting up for the season.  The second week, I excavated a corner of the trench which had evidence of burning aka fire cracked stones, charcoal, different colours of soils.  The rest of the week I helped to literally move a metric fuckton of soil to reopen another trench for re-evaluation.  I used some rope knowledge to hip belay buckets on buckets on buckets of backfill.

[Dad, I know you’re going to make some joke about me ‘actually doing manual labor’ in the comments.]

But it’s been fun.

I got all my marks back for the year and ended second year with a solid 2:1.  I’m now a Third Year!  Cries.  I’ve chosen my classes for next year.  It look like I’ll either have a course on the Crusades and Medieval Society or a course on Conflict Archaeology for first semester plus two required courses.  For second semester I have one required Archaeology course and then hopefully a course on the History of Tea (it sounded fun, okay?) or the Crusade class if I didn’t get it first semester and then another class in Forensics.

But anyway, that’s what’s up and why I’ve been more AWOL than usual.

things i should do

Hello friends and welcome to Limbo!

Since getting back on Sunday night this week has been a rather calm period again right before the storm that is going to be me in a tent for 35 nights crying over Anglo-Saxon archaeology in rainy/boggy Northumberland.  Picture a slightly more grotesque Gollum holding a trowel instead of The Ring and you should sort of get the idea.

This week I’ve spent it mostly inside because of the torrential downpour Edinburgh is currently facing.   We have gotten so much rain in the past week, Princes Street Gardens has basically become the Old North Loch again.  Now we just need a David Hume-like figure to fall in. (True story, David Hume fell in a bog right here in Edinburgh.)

However, on Monday I went to go see Wonder Woman.  Go.  See.  This.  Film.

I know I always gripe about DC and how their past films have been pretty shitty… but Wonder Woman is fantastic.  The acting is incredible and the story is spot on for today.  It has a great message at the end about doing the right thing and believing in hope even if everyone around you is being shitty.  It also does a great job at presenting both the female and male characters in the film.  This is a film that we’ve needed for a long time.

And, it’s directed by Patty Jenkins who is from Lawrence!  The playlist for today is just the Wonder Woman soundtrack because I’ve been listening to it on repeat.

I also finished playing Rise of the Tomb Raider the other night.  The final boss battle was frustrating af, but the overall game was great.

I’m doing some general tidying and then I’m packing for excavation.  This morning I used the egg coddler (a birthday gift from my mother) to make myself a plate of my favourite breakfast: eggs benedict.  I turned on some ~smooth~ jazz to drink my tea and write this post.  Look at me, #adult.

But today I have a list of errands to run so because since I find my days remotely interesting, I figured you would find them interesting as well.

I. I need to become a presentable human to the outside world and not forget to brush my hair.

II. Before I head out I need to put on a load of laundry or else face the wrath of the clothes monster growing faster than No Face from Spirited Away on my desk chair.

II. My disposable camera from the Road Trip has been developed so I need to run up to Princes Street to get the photos. Those (fingers crossed) will be uploaded to Facebook tonight.

III. I need to sort out the pillow situation for excavation or my neck will riot.   Thinking of getting a compressible camping pillow, so if anyone has any recommendations???

IV. My favourite body lotion, a combination of cocoa butter, oatmeal, and lavender is back at Lush…

V. The dishwasher is out of tablets and I am nearly out of milk… to the shop.

VI. Get a cup of coffee.  Or two.

In other exciting news, my writer’s block aka the constant nagging I’ve had for not publishing something again in the last six years has lapsed? Finally?  After basically abandoning a manuscript I’d worked on for years and was over 70k… I’ve just hit 30k on a new manuscript!!   I think the story works well and I’m hopeful that I can finish it.  Two words: Space Archaeologists.

But, that’s my afternoon.  It’s just starting to rain.