yummick road trip 2017

Hello friends it is I, your local hermit.  I just got back last night after a whirlwind tour of the UK.

sound on.

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It all started right after my last exam on May 23.  I finished my exam at 4.30 pm and then headed right north to the Bothy with a small crew to finish renovations and spend a few days there.  I’ve officially taken over as Bothy Secretary for the EUMC and the place looks fantastic.  The kitchen is now fitted, doors are hung, the fireplace is filled in, and we even got a fantastic day out on the hills for some sunny walking.  We walked the Five Sisters of Kintail, a ridge line with five peaks and three Munros.  I got terribly sunburned during the walk and basically both of my arms  have peeled off.  On May 26, it was back to Edinburgh.  I spend May 27 airing my kit and repacking.  It was a quick turnaround as we left again, early, on May 28 to head south.

hi mom! i forgot sun screen.

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Ali, Ellie, Tuva, Erling, and myself all crammed ourselves and our kit into Ali’s parent’s car and began our week long adventure across the UK.  We first headed south to the Lake District to avoid the bad weather up north in Scotland.  We may have had a mild SNAFU with the bouldering mat whilst driving the M-6.  For the first two days, we stayed at Ellie’s grandparent’s cottage in the Lake District.  The building was built in 1725! We spend one day climbing and the next day we went for a nice 17km stroll.

Then we packed up again and headed further south into the Lake District. We arrived in Great Langdale for a rainy afternoon.  We pitched our tents and I made sad sausages in the rain on my camping stove while Ellie held an umbrella over my head.  To wait out the rain we all headed to the pub.  Later that night, more Yummicks joined us at the camp site.  The next day we headed over to Shepard’s Crag for a day of climbing in the sun.  I got sunburned again.  I lead my first pitches in a right long while and it felt really good to be back out climbing.  The next day, Ali, Ellie, and I headed to the Langdale Boulders.  I saw the Neolithic rock art carved into the sides of the boulders and pitched my hammock and take a nap.  Tuva and Erling went climbing at the nearby Raven Crag.

The next day was a long haul drive from the Lakes up to Oban.  Oban is a port city on the west coast of Scotland.  We caught the ferry over to Mull from Obam.  Once on Mull, we put the party bops on and jammed out as we drove across the island to reach Fionnport.  We stayed the night at a campsite in Fionnport.  The sunset was incredible.

The next day, while many stayed on Mull for some climbing I packed up my things and caught the early ferry over to Iona.  Iona was the location for the Dinner Meet on Saturday night, a dinner of general shenanigans and debauchery.

However, Iona is also an island of significant historical importance.  In 563 AD Columba landed on the island with 12 monks and established one of the more important religious sites in Scotland.  The Abbey on Iona is famous throughout history.   And, a link to my upcoming excavation at Bamburgh Castle, when King Oswald was a boy he spent his exile in the kingdom of Dal Riata (modern day Argyll and parts of Ireland).  Iona was the religious center for Dal Riata.  When Oswald converted to Christianity, he would at some point visited Iona.  And later when Oswald returned to Northumberland and took back his rights as king of Bamburgh castle, he brought with him a new sense of Christian ideals.  It was Oswald who granted Aiden the land for Lindisfarne and strengthened the connection between secular kingdoms and the church.

So anyway, I spend the day on the island by myself.  I went for a run around the island to explore the sites.  It was fantastic.  The weather was amazing as I explored the Nunnery and the Abbey.  While I was listening to the audio guide at the Abbey, I heard what I thought was a crack of thunder.  At first I just thought it was part of the guide’s music but then I looked outside and saw that the sky had opened up and there was actually a small thunderstorm!  I waited in the 13c Benedictine cloisters for the storm to pass.

That afternoon, more yummicks made it to Iona and we headed down to the beach.  I jumped into the ocean and had a good swim around in the cold, but-not-too-cold water.

Iona was definitely an island where you could feel the sense of history.  It cloaked everything on the island with a sense of mysticism.  When I took the ferry over from Mull and caught site of the Abbey from the water, I could understand why for over 1000 years people have been coming to this island.

That evening, everyone finally took showers and we headed to the restaurant for the dinner meet.  It was a really nice time and I got a chance to see all my friends again before everyone leaves for the summer or in the case of a few for exchange the next year.  After dinner, we headed back to the campsite to change and then headed back down to the beach for a bonfire.  I roasted s’mores and then taught a lot of my friends how to make them as well.  I was shocked to find that the quintessential camping food was just an American thing.  We hung around the bonfire singing songs, telling stories, and drinking a lot of alcohol.  Lol, what did you expect?  You put 40+ twenty somethings on an island after a week of walking, climbing, and camping.  We finally got pushed out of the beach by an onset of rain around 3 AM.

The next day was a slow pack up and then ferry back to Fionnport.  From there we drove back around Mull to catch the ferry back to Oban.  The drive was long as we arrived back at the flat around 9.45 last night.

All in all it was a fantastic trip out with lovely people and a good start to a summer I know is going to be stellar.  The only downside is that it’s over and lost pretty much all the skin on my arms.

I woke up late this morning to air out my kit and write this post.  I’m just back in Edinburgh for a few days now.  I’ll be heading south soon again to start my five week excavation at Bamburgh Castle!

 

this is early bc im skipping town

This post is *technically* about a day early but since I’m getting the heck outta Dodge right after my exam, I decided to write it tonight.

And that’s second year.  Tomorrow, I have my last exam, Roman World, at 2.30 pm (to 4.30pm).  I’m a little nervous for it as always, but I am currently channeling the planet Saturn which astronomically exudes confidence.  I’ve read through my notes and my textbook, so I’m feeling pretty good.  I also figure after four+ years of Latin, a trip to Italy, and having a published novel which draws on aspects of Roman/Greek society if I don’t know Claudius from Caligula by now…    

Right after my exam, I won’t have much time to celebrate.  I’m running right back to my flat to grab my bags.  I’m leaving for one of my favourite places in all of Scotland – the Bothy.  I’m officially become the Bothy Secretary for the EUMC and I cannot be more excited.  This trip is going up to work on the kitchen and finish up the main refurbishment works so that the Bothy can be ‘officially reopened.’

Anyway, I am so glad that exam season is over.  It’s been more tiring than stressful and honestly, more annoying than anything else.  Classes finished back in the beginning of April, so it’s been about a month of waiting for my exam.  I’m the type of person would would rather write 2-3 long essays in a class over the semester than wait for an exam.  So, I’ve read a lot, walked around a lot, and drank a metric fuck ton of coffee.  Yay!

But, two down and one to go.  My archaeology exam was last Monday and it was pouring outside.  Medieval Europe was last Thursday and after I took the exam I went to the NMS for a book talk with Diana Gabaldon (the author of Outlander).  She talked about writing and then signed my copy of Outlander.  It was pretty cool.  Today, I went for the massage/facial my mom booked me for my birthday and I have emerged a new woman with fewer knots and much less dead skin.  Thanks mom!  I’ve also been trucking away on my *space archaeology* manuscript, it’s nearly at 30,000 words atm. WOWZAH!

But anyway… tomorrow I finish up with my second year of university.  This, September (assuming all goes well and I didn’t fuck everything up on my exams) I’ll be starting my third year!  GASP!  Time to start working on a dissertation and having my marks count toward my final degree.  Honours years is going to be a transition, but I’m really excited for it.  This year has honestly been amazing.  First semester I got to take an osteology class and this semester I got to use those skills on the excavation in Chester.  I can’t wait for this summer to use them again at Bamburgh and in Italy.  This semester I took a course in Medieval History which I enjoyed so much.  It really makes a difference when you finally get to take courses in things that you have a genuine interest in.

It’s been a crazy two years.  If you had told 2015 Kennedy that 2017 Kennedy would be having a kick-ass time in Scotland she would have probably been a bit skeptical.  Sometimes 2017 Kennedy still can’t believe that she made it here either.  Walking around Edinburgh still catches me off guard sometimes as I catch sight of new things.  You’d be surprised how many old things tend to blend into the city unnoticed.  Just the other week, I wandered into the Old Calton burial ground and ran into David Hume’s tomb – who knew.

But, enough with academics already.  I am so ready to finally relax this summer and turn my brain off, enjoy the weather, and drink some well earned alcohol.  Treat yo’self.

Well, that’s second year.  It’s been grand.  After my exam I’m headed to the Bothy for a few days and then back to Edinburgh and then out for the Road Trip for week and then back to Edinburgh and then out to Northumberland and then back to Edinburgh and out to Italy and then back to London and then to America… you get the idea.

dear crosby, (your room still smells like french fries).

Congrats Crobmonster.  You’re officially done with high school, well, minus the actual graduation day… But, tbh no one really cares about the physical day of graduation.  It always rains and all you do is walk across the stage to get an empty diploma case (jokes on you, your real diploma hasn’t been printed yet!)

Alright.  I figured I would take this chance to write you a nice ‘lil blogpost.

I hope you enjoyed your last day in high school, but I do hope that you aren’t in the mindset that this has been/must be the best four years of your life.  Because tbh it’s not.  It won’t be.  You’ll probably miss your friends, your teachers, and that gross but sweetly nostalgic smell of old hummus that haunts the hallways of LHS *shudder.* Keep in touch with as many or as few as you want, but, now, clean the mold out of your locker and leave. (But, not before thanking your teachers.  Dammit Crob, go back inside right now and thank those wonderful humans.)  But yeah, don’t stick around.  Get out and go.  Don’t dwell in the past, especially when it comes to high school.  No one is going to care at all in a year.  You’ve past the high school milestone in your life, but this isn’t like on a road trip when you get out of your car and and take a gazillion photos with the ‘Welcome to Colorado’ sign.  You’re going seventy-five and have no time to stop, because Cr(ur feet smell)osby, I know, mom and dad know, your teachers and friends know that you’re headed to something cooler than just the ‘Welcome to Colorado’ sign.

I know you’ve had a pretty rough time these last four years.  (I hope that at least for the first two I was able to help a bit?) But, truthies Crobula? I know you’re really scared of growing up and leaving and you think that by graduating that you’ll have to start acting all adult and shit.  Lol nope.  In fact, the people who act really adult right out of high school are probably the most insecure and worried about their future.  They’ll tell you that ‘being mature is the best thing since sliced bread’ as they sip their disgusting cold brew coffee.  The real secret, Bobsby?  Maturity is circumstantial.  Meaning you’ll learn when it is appropriate to at 2 am shout ‘Down it Fresher’ to yourself as your drink an entire bottle of Malibu while covered in 200 googley eyes versus when you need to assure the director of the bank that all your paperwork is in order and that you have the right forms of ID and signatures to be made a signatory on a bank account.  See, Crib, completely circumstantial.

Alright enough about high school (*whispers* because no one cares).  Now onto University.  I’ll give you a bigger pep talk this August but for now…

I know you’re worried about making friends.  I mean aren’t we all?  But, trust me on this one.  There will be plenty of theatre loving weirdos for you to hang out with.  It’s a weird thing: once you get to a place that specialises in something people who like that thing… *hides behind my hand and whispers* they are everywhere.  I think it’s a government conspiracy.  And for that first week of classes?  Everyone is going to be scrambling to make friends.  Sometimes the people you meet in week one are going to be your best friends, other times they are going to be the ones to introduce you to your best friends.  Either way.  Chillax, Bing.

Have fun this summer.  Hang out with your friends and enjoy having dad do your laundry.  Don’t think of it as your last, it’s just the prologue of the sequel that ended up being better than the first sorta like The Empire Strikes Back.  High school is over for you.  But, I bet you that you’re going to be sad for like 0.00000000003 seconds because I know how excited you are to start at Cornell this fall.  Congrats Bob.

Now thank your teachers and leave.

– ur older, wiser, and infinitely cooler sister

p.s enjoy the playlist. i only put i musical song it on because i can’t stand musicals.

p.p.s ur room still smells like fries.

hi mom! i’m still kicking it.

Hi Mom (and other family members who like to know what sort of weird shit I’m up to these days!)! Here’s a weekly update on my life (and a playlist of what I’m currently listening to… [does anyone actually listen to these? asking for a friend]).

While many of you are aware, I turned twenty on Friday.  My hair has turned white overnight and my chronic knee pain had developed into full blown osteoarthritis.  I am coming into my elderly age.  I stayed inside all day Friday and sat.  It was glorious.  I watched films (Mr Holmes, Young Victoria, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Indiana Jones), made homemade cinnamon rolls with the new hand mixer my mom bought me for my birthday, ordered pizza, and drank some fancy gin and tonics.  My friends came around during the day to sit with me and watch films.  Then they went back to studying for exams.  Everyone was out the door by 9.30 and I was asleep by 10.  It was a total rager, Mom.

On Saturday, I woke up early for yoga at 9 am.  Then I came home and studied for my upcoming exams.  I finished knitting a scarf for myself and then went out for coffee to study some more.  That even I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with Ellie.  It’s out a week early here in the UK.  So, Mom, tell Crosby she better not be stealing anymore of my clothes or else I will text her the entire plot summary and spoil the film.

Sunday, I went to the Cat Cafe and petted cats.  Then I came home, worked a bit, and then went to yoga at 2.  In my elderly age, I must preserve my core strength and flexibility of my youth.  In the afternoon, I used some weird sea salt shit on my face and scrubbed off all of my dead skin cells.  Then I put some smashed seaweed on my face and sat around the flat like an Ariel wannabe for a while.  Sunday night, I stayed up until 3 AM watching the entire season of GirlBoss on Netflix.  It was very good if at times a bit infuriating.  But, I recommend watching it.

Today, I woke up at noon.  I made myself a breakfast sandwich and then took a nice stroll up to New Town to grab a cup of coffee and work on my revision.  I’m re-writing my notes and creating charts now to help me remember key facts.  My exams aren’t for another two weeks, but I study the best if I do a little bit each day.  Tonight, I’m going to hot yoga and will be reduced to a puddle of sweat.

I got the last of my assignments back on Friday.  70 on a report about the domestication of the common goat and a 68 on a Roman essay about Roman Forts.  Pretty decent.

The rest of the week, Mom, I’ll be working and drinking a lot of coffee because I’m (probably?) addicted to caffeine.  On Thursday I’m going to go pick up the two canisters we painted for the kitchen.  I am very excited to be able to organise the flour and sugar so that when I open the cupboard they don’t spill out and attack me.  It will be nice not being covered in white powder and looking like a cocaine addict every time I want to bake!

I’m in this strange stall period now with classes over and exams not for another two weeks.  It’s a bit stressful but also semi-relaxing because I don’t have any classes to go to, if that makes any sense?  However, I’ve honestly been a bit bored because I do actually enjoy my lectures and such.  So, to  combat my pre-exam stress/boredom I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and searching the internet for funky fresh activities to do with my time in-between revision.  I was thinking of maybe taking a few day trips to random places but not yet sure.  I’ll let you know when I make up my mind, Mom.

Anyway, it was really nice being able to see you all last week.  Miss you and Dad and Rory and Mulan and (sometimes) Crosby.

xx.

I crack an egg into the pan and watch the clouds move over the castle.  It’s quiet here, just after 7 AM.  I had stayed with my mom last night after coming back late from dinner.  This morning, the cab dropped me off at my door and then took my mom to the airport.  I just got a text from her, she’s all checked in and ready for her flight back to America.

I had unlocked the door to my flat, took a shower, washed my greasy hair, and then set to make breakfast.  The pan sizzles as the egg scrambles.  I pick through the refrigerator and grab my sticky tub of butter, a clean packet of smoked salmon, and a nearly empty jar of blackberry jam.  The toaster pops up and I grab the two crispy pieces of bread.

I pause by the window.  The clouds move over the castle.  I spread jam on one of the pieces of toast and butter on the other.  I layer scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on the buttered toast.  Then I pour myself a cup of tea and sit by the window watching the clouds move over the castle.

I turned twenty this morning.  Similarly to last year and the year before and the year before that… I hope that I’ve grown as a person but not changed too much.

I’m not going to write a long post this morning because I generally don’t like being fussed over or creating a fuss but I will write about a few things as I sit here watching the clouds moving over the castle.

I will write about how lucky I am to be here.  I will write about how I am living in this lovely city working toward the goal I set in my mind when I first finished that museum with my grandmother ages ago.  Each day I walk to class I pass centuries of history and it still amazes me after nearly two years.  I will write about the amazing friends I have met here who have made me part of their own little new family.  I deeply adore each and every one of them and I still can’t believe they put up with my shit.

But, I guess most importantly I will write about how as I enter my twentieth year, I am happy.  Three years ago, I was a mess of anxiety and panic attacks.  Now, I’m still a mess… but at least I’m enjoying the mess.  I’ve traveled and seen so many beautiful things from around the world.  And, I have two more excavations this summer… I just have to get through exams first.

Happy Birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

Poulton Excavation

Hello all!  Today marked the end of the Poulton Research Project, the two week excavation of a medieval graveyard south of Chester.  The site is located five miles south of Chester in the middle of an agricultural field.  For your reading enjoyment (and because I’ve already written it) here’s my field journal.

April 9. 3.56 pm 

Took the train down from Edinburgh this morning.  Had a stop over in Crewe to change trains.  Read Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher while on the train.

Arrived in Chester.  Will be taking part on the Poulton Research Project for 2 weeks.  Staying at a lovely flat on the River Dee.  Just staying by myself, I really am going to enjoy the next two weeks.  And!  The place that the Parliamentary forces broke through the city walls during the English Civil War and a Roman Amphitheater are just around the corner from where I am staying!  I will pass them each morning as I walk to the bus stop!  I am going out now to sort lunch and buy groceries for the 2 weeks.  Very excited to be on this excavation – medieval skeletons! Need to be on site for 9 am tomorrow and then 9.40 form there.  On site until 4.30 pm each day.

April 10. 5.52 pm

First day of excavation complete.  Caught bus to the Straight Mile this morning.  Met at the milking parlour for debrief.  The site is on a very old landscape with finds from every period from Neolithic to Medieval.  A large Iron Age settlement is suspected in the region.  We saw the finished Iron Age trench (to be filled in next week).  It had 9 roundhouses.  Massive round-houses built over a period of 200 years.  They suspect it was some sort of tribal capitol.  The land during the Medieval period (12c-ish) was owned by a the Cistercian monks who build a large Abbey in the area.  The Abbey has still yet to be found.  The monks kept people off of the land, un-intentionally preserving the archaeology.  After 70 years, the Abbey was abandoned and the land laid bare due to increasing pressure from the Welsh border.  There was a series of Welsh/English conflicts in the 14c/15c.  In the early 15c, a Chapel (where I am excavating) was built by the Manley family.  The last time the Chapel appears in records was during the English Civil War of the 1640s where the Chapel was used as a look-out for invading Parliamentary forces as Chester had backed the Royalists.

The Chapel itself is built on the ground of a Roman building (possibly a shrine to a water-goddess).  After Roman occupation there are Saxon furrow marks in the soil.  A early medieval chapel was built on the site before the larger later one built by Lord Manley.  This is evidenced by the buttress on the inside of the Chapel tower.  A buttress was a feature used on the outside of a building to support the wall.

I am excavating in the southern graveyard.  There are six of us working in the graveyard.  We have been allocated into groups of two.  My partner and I excavated through the demolition layer which included charnel bone, teeth, slate roof tiles, sandstone, and building mortar from the Chapel.  We should expect to find an articulated skeleton by day three or four.  The side of the trench has the ball of a femur exposed so either this is a loose burial or a disarticulated bone.  Additionally, a geological anomaly created soil that was less acidic and in turn preserved bone much better than most sites around Britain.

The site is in a really amazing landscape with large potential as not many excavation have been undertaken in the area due to the boulder clay soil/idea that nothing was there.

April 11. 6.17 pm

Long day!  On site for 9.40 am.  Continued to take down demolition layer.  Still no sign of burial after a few false leads.  The femur head was just that.  I found a few other bits of bone but no stratified burial yet.  My partner discovered a bit of skull just before the end of the day.  Have been excavating quickly now to get down to lower levels but unsure.  We have however uncovered a piece of 10c Chester ware which backs up the Saxon connections to the site!

The site directors are very nice and I am learning a lot from them.  My knees are sore from today I stopped at Lush for some bath bombs and will take a nice soak after making dinner… I’m thinking salmon and veg.

April 12. 6.52 pm

We have a burial?  Or two?  Articulated vertebrae and ribs were found today!  The cranium found yesterday was actually a second cranium directly on top of our burial.  We have excavated down and are currently working to recover the rest of the burial by removing the deposition layer.

We have been assigned a context number for our burial now.  Context is an archaeology word for a ‘human action in time.’ A burial consists of 3 actions: grave digging, placement of the body, and backfill.  Our feature has three context numbers.

However, our feature has been a little strange.  It also has a spare C2 vertebrae and Maxilla (upper jaw).  Is there a second burial below?  Will be interesting to see if the burial is indeed a burial/double burial/ or a charnel pit.  Many questions.  The cranium is facing east, so that is a good sign pointing to an articulated Medieval Christian burial.

April 14. 7.34 am

Forgot to write yesterday.  Went out for drinks and a tour of Chester!  The city is super cool and was founded by the Romans as a fortress, you can still see the Roman grid system in the roads.  We met at a pub which was actually located in the old city crypts built in the 11c!

Anyway, excavation went well yesterday.  Our burial is very young, probably at least three but no more than four.  I exposed the vertebrae and we have recovered the right femur.  Still no sign of the right side which is a bit strange.  Haven’t been able to figure out how the second cranium fits in either because it is too close to the first and one would expect another stratified burial?

©♓️📧⚡️🌱📧®

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April 15. 10.14 am

Just seated for breakfast on my day off.  Yesterday was a quick day on the site.  First, we gave short presentations about our burials and excavations thus far.  We have continued to clean down our burial.

Our skeleton is very young – probably three but no more than four years old.  There are two extra craniums alongside the burial.  I excavated the right side to reveal that the right arm (and so the left) have been crossed over the body.  However because the burial is so young, small, and fragile we have little hope of recovering finger and hand bones.  Likewise, while we have cleaned the ribs and second cranium (to be removed Monday as it shows no sign of stratification).  We have avoided cleaning the sacrum because a phD student from Durham is doing a study about parasites found in child burials.  Okay breakfast has arrived… will continue later.

Overall, the excavation is run very well and I believe I have truly learned much over the past week.

On Monday, we will be having an osteology course in the milking parlour at 10 am.  on Tuesday afternoon, we are getting to learn about medieval archery!  I have not expressed my massive interest in archery just yet – I fear it may make me look like a bigger geek that I already am!  Today I have the day off and will be exploring Chester for a good coffee house – somewhere to revise.

April 18. 8.24 am

Busy weekend off.  Glorious weather and exploring Chester.  On Saturday, I went to the the Grosvenor Museum and saw some of the material from Chester’s Roman fort.  Next to the Cathedral, the oldest part was built in the 11c!  On Sunday, I ate breakfast, went to the Jaunty Goat for revision and coffee and then took the bus out to see the Duke of Westminster’s Estate.  He had opened the gardens for the day to allow the plebeian riff-raff like myself a chance to see them.  The driveway was long (2 miles!) and no one stopped offer me a lift so I walked.

Monday was back on site but it was raining so we stayed inside to wash finds.  We had an osteology unit.  It was very cool and we got a chance to look at two different skeletons from the site.  I clearly had not gotten a first in osteology for no reason and I was able to successfully age and determine the sex of both skeletons!

It always amazes me what you can tell from a set of remains – nearly everything about a person… but really nothing about who they were…

10.18 pm

Cleaned up after muddy day on site and ready to sleep.  Today was a typical day will be photographing skeleton tomorrow morning.  Lifted 2nd cranium today but third (the one bisecting the right femur) is still a mystery.

Other groups: one intact standard burial near complete.  Another group started as a charnel pit(?) but turned into a child burial with potential of being a double inhumation!  However, while clearing, a cranium was found inside of a left pelvis!  Our supervisor was concerned that they had uncovered a baby in utero alongside the mother!  Thankfully, it turned out just to be two more charnel bones.  Whew.

Our skeleton is just as interesting however in its relation to cranium 3.  As it bisects the right femur, the only was it could have would be if it was placed in first there is a significant grave cut which truncates the child’s burial past mid-femur so there is a high probability that there is a second grave directly below ours. A mandible located close to the cranium 3 could belong to it… but no way to know.  Additionally massive amounts of post-mortem damage has affected our skeleton including bioturbation from the nearby hedge line and compression from years of walking over which has actually smashed the skull inward.

Additionally, an archery teacher came today to talk to us about the English longbowman because the site being on the Welsh border was an important one during the Border Wars of the late 13c!  The ones that Henry V was involved in during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV.   They have actually found a burial on site which had a large bodkin inside of the sternum!

We got a chance to shoot the bow and although I hadn’t shot a bow in nearly a year… I guess it’s like riding a bike.  The archery teacher even complimented my technique.  Side tangent: I taught myself how to accurately shoot a traditional longbow and crossbow while researching a paper on the English longbowman during school to gain a better understanding of the medieval sources.

April 20. 8.25 am

Good day yesterday.  Photographed and took levels and measurements for the burial.  Used the dumpy level and took eastings and northings using the grid system.  Filled out context sheets and skeleton forms.  Now lifting the burial and should be complete by tomorrow!

8.34 pm 

Today I lifted the cranium of a small child.  Who ever they were, I would like to hope to think they were buried with love and care as they were wrapped in a shroud and lowered into the earth over 600 years ago.

We finalised our burial today, filled out more forms, will plan the cut of the grave tomorrow. I have truly enjoyed this excavation and it has given me huge insights into medieval osteoarchaeology!  The teaching has been very professional and well explained.  And the constant supply of coffee and biscuits is always a plus.  I have learned a lot and have been very inspired to continue my study of osteology.

This excavation has really given me more reason to further my study.  Excavating a skeleton has given a sense of gravitas to what I study.  As I lifted the cranium from the ground, I thought of the people who placed the body of the child into the ground.  I know we will never know for sure, but I would like to think that this child’s parents loved them as much as my own parents love me.  I am thankful to have been able to excavate them a get a glimpse of who they were.  This adds in a better understanding of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going.

However, I know that we cannot lose sight of the humanity of the field.  We have been given a unique chance to know our ancestors on an intimate level and I feel I have a better understanding of what sort of relationship that needs to be.  The site was very clear about respect for remains on day one.  For instance we are not to name the skeletons or take photos to be posted online (which is why there are not many photos in this post).  We always have to remember that these were once people who already had a name and a life.  We will never know their true name and so will only assign a number.

It’s a funny thing really.  We know nearly everything about a person by studying their remains, their age, sex, height, pathology, healed injuries, even DNA can give us eye color, hair color, facial features… we can recreate their faces and see the past with our own eyes.  But, who were they?  What was their favourite color, food, animal?  Who was their best friend?  How did they spend their days?  That’s the rub. We know everything and nothing about them.  It’s exceedingly frustrating but rewarding all the same.

I shook when I raised the cranium, but I knew that I had to be steady.  This child deserves to have their life retold and studied, but also respected.  Science has a no many ways of helping us to know that past – without studying human remains our history will become lost to us for a brief moment the people of the past have a chance to be relevant again.  However, we must always remember with what and with whom we deal.

April 21. 5.53 pm

Today was the last day of excavation.  We planned the grave cut and took levels and then spent the rest of the afternoon finds washing.  We cleaned a lot of the extra human remains that came from the fill of our grave including the second cranium and multiple extra mandibles.  I had a strange experience when I realised that I was brushing a medieval person’s teeth with a modern toothbrush but other than that it was a solid day in the field.

I’m a little sad to be finishing as I really enjoyed going out each day and working.  Field archaeology is probably my favourite aspect of my degree.  Sure it’s fun to sit around and read articles and debate theory but I always love a chance to lay on the ground in some contortionist position with my head stuck in the trench, dentist pick in one hand, and brush in the other.  Someone has to do the dirty work to collect the data sets for the academics!

I feel like you also get a closer connection to understanding the past as you truly get to experience the environment from which the artifacts come.

Anyway, I’m back to Edinburgh on Sunday and then my mom is actually coming to visit for the week because my birthday is on Friday and she’s that sort of mom.

It’s been grand.  Props to you for reading all of this.

 

 

 

semester 2 done, off on excavation…

Enjoy some folk jams as you read.  As of yesterday I am officially done with my lectures for the semester!  As of this afternoon, I am done with all my assignments!  I just submitted my last essay about Goat domestication in the Neolithic for Archaeology.

This week has been pretty decent.  On Wednesday I explored a bit around Edinburgh and found a really cool antique shop up in New Town.  It had a collection of stuff stored everywhere.  I ended up with a brass-ship bell with the handle shaped like Bamburgh Castle… much to the approval of my flatmates.  I also had a chat with the guy running the shop about a bunch of 16c cannonballs they just acquired.  I always went antiquing with my parents and being a human with a general interest in old shit I do really like finding antique shops with tons of stuff just everywhere.

Last night was the last EUMC social of the year: the Adventure Race.  It’s a race around Edinburgh with stops and challenges along the way.  The route this year ran from GBH (near Old College) up Calton Hill for drinking and marshmallow eating, then to St. Anthony’s Chapel (the 15c ruins in Holyrood Park) for swimming and more drinking, up to the summit of Arthur’s Seat for more drinking, then down Arthur’s Seat to the Meadows for drinking while slacklining, and finally finishing back at GBH.  Erling and I ran the race again this year… and we took third again.  At least you can say that we are consistent.  The last part of the race had us running through George Square.  I played ‘Eye of the Tiger’ aloud on my phone to the enjoyment(?) of everyone emerging from the library late on a Thursday night.

But, I am done for the semester… until exams.

This semester has gone really well.  I didn’t have as many written assignments as last semester so that was sort of refreshing.  Archaeology diversified a lot and I got a chance to work in the computer labs to create digital posters, charts, and site plans for assessment versus just writing another essay.

I am really pleased with my selection of courses and while I’m stressed for the exam (like always) I feel like I know the material and know what I need to revise.  My exams this year are on May 15 (Archaeology), 18 (Medieval Europe), and 23 (Roman World).  After my last lecture it’s off on the EUMC road-trip for climbing and camping wherever it is sunny.

On Sunday, I’m headed down to Chester to take part on the first of three excavations this summer!  I am so excited for this excavation as I will be excavating a medieval cemetery!  I’m also excited to be getting out for some fieldwork again… call it being from Kansas.  I’m currently doing a load of laundry of clothes that I will need for the excavation and then I’ll finish up packing tomorrow.  I’m also taking some books for revision and my laptop so I can work on the weekends as the excavation runs 9.40-4.30 Monday to Friday.

I’ll be posting updates about the excavation here on the blog, if you want to hear about the new old thing I’m currently crying over.

 

death monday is dead.

Today is the last Death Monday of second year.  Damn.

Hey, Uni?  Maybe slow down, please?

This morning I had an Archaeology lecture over Forensics and DNA which was really interesting.  It ran a little over and cut into my already limited lunch time… but eh, the lecture was cool so I didn’t mind.

For lunch, I grabbed a bowl of soup and went to eat in the Debating Hall in Teviot, it’s in the quieter part of the student union and I really like it because it looks like an old medieval Great Hall.  You know the type with the high wooden ceilings, mezzanine, and dark wood everything?  Yeah?  Yeah.

After lunch, I went to my last Medieval tutorial for the year.  It was over the Later Crusades after the fall of the Crusader states (circa 1291).  After, I had a Roman Empire lecture over the 3rd century AD and then I went to my last Archaeology lab for the semester.  The lab was over using data sets to create charts and stuff on the computer.

The weather has been stellar again and so yesterday I spent most of the day outside.  I went for a run in the meadows, meet up with some friends, and did some yoga.  My friends have commented that I have transcended my title of ‘Trash Child’ (I constantly trip over things, fall into bins or the gutter, and live in the Meadows in my hammock which one more than one occasion has been set up next to a bin.  I also lay on the floor for prolonged periods of time and whine.).  According to Ellie, I have become ‘Earth Child’ after my outdoor yoga sesh in the mud.  Truthfully, I still feel more like a ‘Trash Child’ but eh, I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

On wider notes, the Avengers have started filming again here in Edinburgh!  They’ve blocked off of much of the Royal Mile and yesterday night they blew up a truck in front of St. Giles!  I’ve walked by the set a few times and they have repainted a jewelry shop into a kebab shop and have massive rain buckets pouring water all over the street.  They only film late at night, so, no I haven’t seen any of the actors (and probably won’t). Although I could swear I saw one of the directors driving around Edinburgh last weekend!

This week is going to be spent finishing up my last two essays.  I’m nearly done with my Roman Empire essay and still have to write my archaeology report.  This weekend officially starts my Easter break and I will be heading south to excavate a Medieval graveyard and get a much needed two week break! More on that next week!!

My twentieth birthday is in 25 days so that’s terrifying.  I always thought that by the time I was twenty I would be a semi-functioning adult… but alas.

 

here comes the sun…

Welcome to Week 10.  One essay (over the Roman army) and write up report (over the domestication of the goat in the Near East circa 10,500 BP) left to go.

Last week was hellish.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  I was super busy and the weather was pretty shit.  I missed my cat terribly, realised I would only be happy again if I had a cat, and contemplated what it would take to let my landlord allow me to get a cat.  Then I had a massive introvert crash.  Fun!

The highlight of last week was meeting with the supervisor for the Osteology masters program on Thursday morning.  I had emailed her asking about the course and we arranged to meet early on Thursday to discuss what I would need to do over the next two years.  The program sounds really fun and definitely something I could see myself doing… especially if I want to continue with osteology as US regulations are pretty strict on what analysis you can do with human remains.  She said that I was on the right track and to continue to take as many osteology classes I can and continue to seek out volunteer spots like I am doing at the NMS.

This weekend, however set a nice tone for the last two weeks of term.  The sun was out and the temperatures were creeping up toward 20C!  On Saturday morning I joined in at the Anti-Fascist march here in Edinburgh.  Long story short, an alt-right party had planned an ‘unofficial’ White Pride day in Edinburgh on Saturday and so a counter protest had been formed to make a clear statement that this city is one of love and tolerance.  Get ta fuck Nazis.  I also got to walk by the Avengers set down on Cockburn Street so that was pretty cool as well.

Afterward, I left to go work on my essay and presentation because, as everyone knows, the best way to combat the alt-right is through education and acknowledgement of fact!  Later that afternoon, after slugging coffee after coffee, I met up Ellie, Sophie, and Urte and hung around outside all afternoon.  I really hope the weather stays as nice as it’s been for a while.  I’ve been wearing my Birkenstocks on a daily basis if that gives you any indication about how nice and sunny it’s been!

On Sunday, the weather was nice again. I had work to do, so I took the books I needed and set up my hammock along Middle Meadow Walk.  I read about Roman forts in Britain, gave a mock presentation, and drank a few G&Ts.  Sunday was also Mother’s Day here in the UK so I tagged my mom in a nice meme on Facebook.

Today, I had an archaeology lecture over animal domestication, a medieval history tutorial over Joan of Arc, no Roman lecture because of a scheduling error (I went and got coffee instead), and lastly my archaeology seminar where I presented my findings about goats!  I could finally use my farm child knowledge of growing up with goats for the power of good!  The presentation went really well, and I’m always keen to talk about osteology.  Since one of the osteology classes isn’t being offered next year (professor on research leave) I am really considering taking the course on the analysis of animal remains.

Just this week and next and then the semester is done! But, before I head to Chester next Sunday for a two week excavation, I need to finish my last essay and report.  It’s going to be hard to focus with the weather being this amazing…

Scot(t)land Soundtrack 26

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sorry I wished you Happy Birthday yesterday because I am negligent human.

For those unaware (aka most of you), my dad’s a pretty cool dude.  My mom worked full time when I was growing up, so my dad was the one who basically raised me.  He’s the one who taught me how to read and how to, most importantly, play Age of Empires.  He also introduced me to how totally awesome history can be.  How?  Well, instead of normal books you would think to read to a small child who can’t even tie their shoes yet, my dad read me whatever he was reading at the moment… which was usually some gigantic book about some niche topic during the American Civil War.

Dad’s keen on understanding the ‘realities’ of history.  It’s never enough to just read something in a book.  To really get into the mindset of what life was like in the past, Dad always says you have to experience it.  When I became interested in Medieval History, he taught me how to use a longbow, crossbow, and a few different types of swords.  Like I said, cool dude… if a bit mental.

I wish I was kidding.  But no.  There are photos in a few albums back home of my dad reading a Medieval History textbook to me when I am barely two months old and of me aged twelve fiddling with a longbow in the frontyard.  You could make the argument that my chosen path of study was more nurture than nature.

Dad also taught me the value of service and loyalty.  I guess a thirty-six year military career would instil certain values in a person.  Even now, I really try to live up to the standards my dad set.  It’s a challenge, but I think I’m doing okay.

Anyway.  Happy Birthday Dad you’re really old now!! Remember to drink your prune juice!