happy summer solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Today is the longest day of the year.  Enjoy the sunlight and take some time to reflect on all the beautiful and bright things in your life.

It’s the end of the first week of the 2019 season of the Bamburgh Research Project and I’m back in Edinburgh just for the day do run errands and do my laundry.

This season I am working as the Assistant Finds Supervisor.  If you’ve been totally out of the loop, the BRP is located at Bamburgh Castle in Northumbria.  Bamburgh was a massive Anglo-Saxon stronghold and later medieval fortress.  Excavations are currently focused in the outer ward of the castle in a known metal working area circa the sixth to seventh centuries CE.

So far, I’ve been teaching illustration techniques and am currently in the middle of reorganizing how the project stores bulk finds (pottery, ceramic building material, charcoal, etc).  Up until recently the project stored bulk finds by year.  It was decided that to make it easier for future study we would reorder everything so artefact types are together regardless of year.  It’ll make everything easier… but is a process to do.

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view of the office.

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This past week has truthfully gone by quickly.  I took the train from Edinburgh last Friday.  We had a staff work day on Saturday to organise our new offices and get the trench ready for students the next day.

I also received my degree classification last Friday.  I have been awarded a First Class Degree in History & Archaeology MA with Honours.  It’s a mouthful, but basically it means I did a pretty damn good job.  A First is the highest degree classification you can get in the UK.  Also, as I found out yesterday, I was one of two students to receive the Archaeological Dissertation Prize.  The award was split this year and is awarded to the student (or students) who received the highest mark for the year on their dissertations.  Maybe it’s time to actually print copies…

If you can remember that far back to April, my dissertation focused on architectural archaeology and cultural heritage management of the Botanic Cottage at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  I pulled in a lot of my experiences volunteering at the Cottage for the past two years as well.

But yeah. It’s been exciting.

And honestly, it’s a week illustrating what happens when you really, really want something.  I guess dreams really do come true, kiddos.  And, like, I really, really don’t want to sound like an asshole, but I’m so proud.  I am graduating from a top 20 world university with top honours, hanging out at an archaeological site all summer, and then starting a Masters in a field I love.

I never compare myself to others because we are all flowers growing at our own pace,  however, I do compare myself to past versions.  This is my evaluation: present-Kenn is everything past-Kenn hoped she would be, but, present-Kenn still has work to do so future-Kenn can be her best version.

But, I could have never done it without my friends or my parents or my lecturers or my supervisors or the RBGE or the BRP.  My heart is so full and I owe it to you all.

I’m back to Bamburgh this afternoon and then back to Edinburgh again next week.  My family is arriving for my graduation not long after I get back and it’ll be great to see them.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

xxii

Well, it’s probably fitting my birthday post is a few days late.

It’s been a busy few weeks even after finishing my degree and I haven’t really had time just to sit.  But, now that I’m back in Edinburgh, I’ve been using my time to read, sleep, and play Skyrim for the thousandth time.  I just beat Aulduin again last night.  You could call me the Dovah-Kenn (sorry that was a terrible joke).  I also went to see Avengers: Endgame.  I probably need to see it again considering I cried through half of it, especially when Carol did THAT!!! and Steve did THAT!!!

But anyway, here’s that belated birthday post even though I’m still *technically* 15 on my Kansas driver’s license.

I’m always worried about the weather on my birthday considering for the first 18 years of my life it rained buckets.  But, Edinburgh once again gave me the best birthday gift with a sunny, warm day spent in the Meadows and empty seats at the Argyle in the evening.

I’ve never been one to fuss about the day I hatched fully formed from an egg, but I do like to have my space to declare ‘I won’t do a damn thing’ and throw myself down on the ground.

As for words of wisdom now that I am entering upon the golden Taylor Swift Birthday, I’m honestly not sure.  19-year-old Kennedy apparently had a lot to say about the world so you can read what she wrote here.  Truthfully, I think she was pretty smart (albeit maybe a bit arrogant).  Most of it still applies with the addition of maybe one more.

If these past four years in Faerieland, have taught me anything it is: be willing to adapt but also be confident within yourself.  You never know when opportunity will arrive, but you can make sure you are ready to met it when it does.

So, anyway.  Happy Birthday to me.

 

straight outta lfk.

Hey pals!  It’s me, writing from the authentic and original Lawrence, Kansas.

I’m in America until term starts in September.  After a short holiday with my family, I’m finally back in Kansas.  *Cue Wizard of Oz joke.* I have bit to myself to relax and write before Tuva, Erling, and Gregor show up to stay with me.  I’m really looking forward to showing my flatmates my hometown.  Lawrence isn’t as big as Oslo or as old as Crieff but I hope they will enjoy their time here.

For those unaware, Lawrence was founded by an abolitionist group from Massachusetts in 1854.  It sits on the border between Kansas and Missouri.  Prior to the official beginning of the American Civil War, Lawrence was a central part to the period known as “Bleeding Kansas.” “Bleeding Kansas” was the struggle between pro-slavery factions who wished the see the Kansas Territory enter the Union as a slave state and abolitionists who fought to see Kansas enter as a Free State.  The Kansas Territory was the hot ticket at the time as it would tip the scales (Free States to Slave States) either way it went – so there was plenty of fighting within the territory as well as external groups such as the one from Massachusetts establishing cities to gather support and abolitionist votes.

In 1855, John Brown visited the territory in support of the abolitionists and aided Lawrenicans known as ‘Jayhawkers’ to help free slaves across the Missouri border and take them to Underground Railroad stations.  The Underground Railroad was a system of safe-houses leading from the American South to the North and finally to Canada to help African-Americans escape slavery.  Because of Lawrence’s involvement in both of freeing of slaves and the setting up of a provisional abolitionist government headquarters it was attacked by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones in 1856.  Jones and his men burned many of the buildings on Massachusetts Street (the central street in Lawrence), including the Free State Hotel which had served as the abolitionist headquarters.  Lawrence rebuilt and continued to resist the pro-slavery factions based in both Missouri and nearby then official capital of Kansas, Lecompton.  Between the period of 1858 to 1861, Lawrence became the ‘people’s capital of Kansas’ and the rival to Lecompton.  Finally, in 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a Free State.

However, in the early morning of August 21, 1863, Lawrence was attacked again by pro-slavery forces in the form of William Quantrill and his band of about 450 Missouri Bushwhackers.  Quantrill and his men burned Lawrence, including the rebuilt Free State Hotel now called the Eldridge Hotel on Massachusetts Street, and murdered 200 men and boys.  The attack had been systematically planned over months and orchestrated with Quantrill compiling a list of known abolitionists to kill and buildings to burn.  It wasn’t just a spur of the moment decision.  However despite it all… Lawrence rebuilt and aided the Union throughout the American Civil War.  I’ve included engraving from Harper’s Weekly below to show the destruction from the raid.  Harper’s Weekly was a national newspaper at the time and Quantrill’s Raid for sure made national news.

Lawrence_massacre_ruins

Battle_of_Lawrence

Images from ‘Harper’s Weekly’ 1863.

After the American Civil War, Lawrence continued to be a liberal hotspot in Kansas.  Our city seal is even of a phoenix rising from the ruins of a burning building, a remembrance of the two raids that tried to destroy Lawrence.  Into the twentieth century, Lawrence acted as a halfway point between New York and San Francisco.  As such, it was a hotbed for the Civil Rights Movement and protestors of the Vietnam War.  There were sit-ins and protests such as the one held by 50 black students at the very high school I would later attend.  In April of 1970, the Student Union at the University of Kansas (the university in the center of Lawrence) was set on fire in protest.

In today’s world, Douglas County is one of the few consistently Democratic counties in the state.  The one time there was an Alt-Right rally in Lawrence a few weeks ago, 750 counter-protestors showed up against the Alt-Rights’ 8.  The most recent city wide protest is the protection of art as the voice of the people.  So, if you’re wondering where I get my politics from, it has a lot to do from where I grew up.

Coming back to America is draining for me both physically from the flight and mentally with all the batshit politics.  But, at least being back in Lawrence, I see people who continue to speak out and stand up for what’s right.  And, maybe Kansas isn’t the top of the list for visits to America but I’m pretty proud to call Lawrence my hometown.  Especially now because, admit all the current bullshit, we still remember our history and try each day to do the right thing.

And, I hope when the rest of Roseneath visits they’ll be able to see that too.

 

 

 

 

 

hey nerds.

Literally everything has happened but nothing of ‘ohmygodihavetotellyouallnowonthisblogwhichprobablyonlymyparentsandgrandmareadbutimgoingtopretendeveryonedoes’ note.  And, I’m not being ~dramatic.~

Since I’ve been back in Edinburgh, I’ve continued to plod on with what I do best, procrastinating and then doing everything on my procrastinated list in a 24 hour time period.  Today I spend time at the RBGE Library working on gathering resources for my dissertation on the Botanic Cottage.  I got to spend some time with archaeological reports and even some maps of the original garden on Leith Walk and architectural plans of the Cottage drawn by John Adam.  One of the maps was dated to 1777 while the architectural plans date prior to the construction of the Cottage in 1763.

Now, if you’ve been away from the blog or my loud American mouth for a hot sec… I’ll recap.  I’m writing on aspects of cultural heritage manage and architectural archaeology using the case study of the Botanic Cottage at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  The building was constructed around 1763 and served at the gardener’s house as well as John Hope’s lecture theatre to teach botany to medical students at the University of Edinburgh.  The lecture room was rediscovered during excavations and because most of the university buildings in Edinburgh were demolished in the 18c to make way for new ones, the Cottage is arguably the oldest and only surviving purpose built lecture theatre from the Scottish Enlightenment!  Nice.  The Cottage was in use until 1820ish when the garden moved from Leith Walk to Inverleith (current location).  Okay cool fast forward.  The Cottage was basically forgotten after the garden moved and went through a lot of awkward phases including becoming an office for a van rental company!  That was until about 2007 when the building caught on fire and then was scheduled to be demolished.  The local community decided that was not going to happen and started research the building and as it turns out, the Cottage is probably one of the best documented small buildings in Scottish history!  Why?  John Hope was appointed by George III to be the King’s Botanist in 1760.  Hope’s patron Lord Bute was also named 1st Lord of the Treasury, leaving him in charge of funding a variety of projects and stuff.  To keep the funds coming for his garden in Edinburgh, Hope documented just about everything down to pillow cases and paper about the Cottage.  Cheers John!

At the moment, I have the historical side and documents concerning the construction.  I have information about how the Cottage was saved and rebuilt.  Now I just need to move more onto the theory side of the project (eg the stuff on Cultural Heritage, the meaning of place and space) and architectural archaeology.  I’m front loading on the research and gathering of stuff now that way I’m not stressed out of my mind come actual term time.

But, I have just over a week left in Edinburgh before it’s off on excavation.  The season at Bamburgh has already started but since I needed to work a bit in Edinburgh this June I’ll be joining the team down at the beginning of July for the last two weeks.   I went down just for the first day to attend a health and safety course which renews my CPR and first aid certification for another three years and a staff dinner, but I’m excited to see what they’ve been up to since!  After Bamburgh finishes it’s back to Edinburgh and then down further south to Chester for some more work at Poulton with medieval human remains.

However, before all that kicks off, my dad is coming to visit next week!  I haven’t seen any of my family since Christmas so I’m really glad to catch up with him.  I haven’t really planned anything except to go to some new restaurants and I *still* haven’t seen SOLO which is goddamn travesty and I’m sorry Obi Wan.  After Dad leaves I get another visit from the people of my past.  Betsy, one of my closest friends from Kansas!  She’s never been to Europe before so ofc she’s freaking out.  But, not to worry!   I’m meeting her in London at the beginning of July for a few days and then we we are going to take the train back to Edinburgh and spend a few days here.  Then she’s off to Paris for her amazing study abroad which I know she will absolutely slay.

So, um, yeah.  I’ve been doing that, making banana bread, getting really distressed about season 6 of Voltron on Netflix (my trash son betrayed and played me just as I was starting to trust his character), and crying over some young adult fantasy novel Caitlin loaned me.

Oh!  And before I forget and because my mom won’t answer my calls. I got all my final marks back for the year.   I finished third year with a 68.3 average which puts me in a really nice spot to graduate with either a very high 2.1 or if I play my cards right maybe a First!  I’m super happy with my final mark in Archaeological Illustration (I got a 78) because I absolutely lovvvvveeed that class and wish I could take it again.

Okay that’s all. byeeeeee.

long time no chat

Hey all!  Apologies for the absence.

Things have been a little busy around here in Edinburgh.  I had my last exam on Wednesday (Theoretical Archaeology) so I am officially done for the year and just awaiting some final marks.  The exam went well and unless I royally messed up, it’ll be fine.  My final project marks for my Archaeological Illustration class came back and I’m quite happy with them.

Out of all my classes this semester, Archaeological Illustration was probably my favorite as I got a chance to work both digital stuff like Photoshop and Illustrator but also techniques like ink and watercolor.  I’ve always love art and it was great to be able to use what I’ve learned in school during this class!  I’ll include pngs of my final project below if you want to see.  We had to choose an object and create two different illustrations.  I chose the wooden box I use to keep my bobby pins in.  I did one academic on the computer and one hand-drawn for public engagement.  Also for museum work and excavations learning to record artifacts is a great skill to have.

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The flat had a party last night to celebrate as it was also Norway Day (17th of May).

Plans are to go up to the Bothy soon to set the gas and do some other work so I promise to write a longer post about summer plans then.  Next week is the EUMC Anniversary dinner in Arisaig.  There will be a ceilidh, hog roast, camping, climbing, and a beach.  Then it’s off on a short climbing road trip to where ever the weather is nice and beach is close.

As for the rest of the summer, I’ll be spending June in Edinburgh working at Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh on my dissertation about the Botanic Cottage (archaeology, Enlightenment History, and education!).  July is going to be full of excavations both at Bamburgh and back to Poulton.  August is back to America.

Byeeeeee.

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.

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spooky haunts with the bestie from the westie.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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

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.

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Last week of excavation here and I'm sad.

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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.