Friday, May 4, 2012


....and so finally to Beads.

As already mentioned the project is located in The Forum shopping centre in Sittingbourne. In May 2008 excavations were undertaken at 'The Meads' ahead of a new development of the area by Canterbury Archaeological Trust. It was expected to yield little archaeology because the site had been used for Brickearth extraction and the topsoil had been stripped. Luckily the damage hadn't reached as far down as predicted and there was some archaeological features cut into the underlying gravels. By December the site had produced 227 Anglo-Saxon (mostly 5th and 6th century) inhumations and 2 cremations, most of the bone had degraded away but the grave goods survived and over 2500 objects, including weapons, dress accessories, knives and vessels, have been recovered. This is where the beads come in. There have been a remarkable number of beads recovered from this site made from glass, amber and amethyst; most of them wouldn't look out of place on the catwalks today! Further information on the background to the site can be found here
A small selection of beads on display in the CSI:Sittingbourne exhibition

The CSI: Sittingbourne is unique in that it is the first community project which involves volunteers in the conservation process. Members of the public can drop in and have a look at the conservators at work or sign up and become part of the team. The lab is in an unused shop in The Forum, kindly supplied rent free from Tesco, and there is another which houses the exhibition side of things. The lab is run by Dana Goodburn-Brown in partnership with Sittingbourne Heritage Museum (SHM) and Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT), and aims not only to conserve the artefacts, but also to get the community involved in their local heritage. The volunteers have been hard at work these past years whittling through layers of soil and corrosion to get valuable information from the recovered artefacts. This is not just concerned with the shape or purpose of the physical object and much more information can be gleaned from the conservation process, for example, textile, wood, bone, feathers, plant fibres and bug cases which were also in the grave can leave an impression on corroded metal. Rob Bloomfield ( has been volunteering his time to create some fantastic images of the project and the Anglo-Saxons so watch out for more of his work appearing in relation to this project.

My involvement in this project will be mostly centred around rejuvenating the exhibition side but I am also fortunate enough to get a chance to spend some time in the lab. I was lucky enough to be tasked with cleaning a decorated cremation urn (the cremation wasn't in the urn before you ask). Due to the fragility of the ceramic I had to clean it by gently rolling a damp cotton bud over the top to lift the dirt. It takes a lot of patience and many hours before you feel like you are getting anywhere! Unfortunately the project is nearing completion but I hope to be able to have more opportunities to get my hands dirty before the end and join in on the next CSI: Sittingbourne project, if funding applications are successful...
Me in action! be continued....

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