Field Notes: Weeks Ten to Thirteen
Corn height: see photo
One month ago (!) I wrote a blogpost, with one week to go of the Poulton Research Project field school. That has long since come and gone, however the weeks following were full of activity and so I’ll attempt in this final field notes entry to summarise everything for you.
The last week of field school, week ten, was fantastic. It was oddly quiet with one student on site, with me in the cemetery. It was such a unique opportunity to be one on one with a student. We completed the excavation of one individual in the north area of the trench, following which we were able to bring everything else to a close. All of the remaining material that had been lifted, both skeletal remains and other finds, were washed and prepared for post-excavation analysis or transportation. The last few records were finished and filed away ready to be included in the excavation report. We tidied up around site and got it ready for the autumn and winter, where the archaeology will wait for the next season of excavation. We even managed to end our last day with our hands in the dirt.
However, although our field school was over at the end of week ten, there was still more to be done on site before excavation would end entirely. I was very thankful for week eleven, which allowed me the time to prepare all of the skeletal material excavated this summer for transportation to the university, where the post-ex will be completed. This meant getting the paperwork in order, completing any preliminary analyses for the report, ensuring everything that was stored in boxes, dry, correctly labelled, and stacked ready for collection. It was a week of many podcasts.
Then, with the arrival of students from Liverpool John Moores University on site in week twelve, the final excavations began, which carried on into week thirteen. During this time students enrolled in forensics were trained in archaeological excavation, focussing especially on osteology. I do believe they all left with an appreciation of the level of skill required to do such a job well. There was a lot of careful excavation searching for features, assessing the dis/articulation of many human remains, a great deal of note-taking, and perhaps more than they expected of medieval history.
We were working in the south west area of the cemetery, to bring the level down, an activity that will be continued next season by the staff on site. In the process, four individuals were excavated and lifted – two sub-adults and two neonates – as well as more of the charnel pit. There were thirty students in all and a lot of progress was made. It is amazing how your perspective can change when you take a moment to stand up and look at the trench, instead of focussing just on your one small area of responsibility. While the LJMU field school was on-going I also took the opportunity to work on the summary report for this season’s excavations. It will cover all of the excavations of human remains, from both trench I and L, detailing all of the activities that occurred over the last thirteen weeks.
My last day on site was Friday of this week just passed. It was a beautiful day. On arriving at site, I was able to relax in the cemetery while migrating birds flew overhead and tea steamed in the mug in front of me. The hedgerow that divides our site from the floodplains beyond it was laden with sloes and blackberries. It was bitter sweet, as I will miss my time in the borderlands.
Thank you for being a part of this experience too, it has been wonderful to share it with you.