Thursday, January 31, 2013

January in Snowy London

January has been very exciting, especially with all the snow! I have been spending time up in London, firstly back stage at the British Museum and secondly at Westminster, and also preparing my section in the final A Town Unearthed Exhibition which is due to open very shortly.

I spent three days back stage at the British Museum in the middle of January. I had been introduced to Julia Farley, curator of European Iron Age collections, back in December when we took the helmet up to London for the Annual Treasure Report and as I was so excited to be in the British Museum she invited me to pop up and volunteer for a few days. I was very pleased to be able to see behind the scenes and to help out, even if it was only in a small way. I was able to get my hands on the Snettisham Jewellers Hoard as Julia has been working hard at updating the database for all the collections on display, as well as the ones that are buried deep in the museum. I had a tour of the metal conservation area, including a close up view of the Chiseldon Caulderons which was really special, and some other artefact's from all over the museum. All in all I had a marvellous time and would go back in a heartbeat!

I wasn't able to take any pictures inside but here's one of the BM columns in the snow.

The next week I was up in Westminster. CSI: Sittingbourne was invited to host an exhibition and Andrew Richardson and I went up to represent CAT at the open evening. The exhibition space was very impressive and CSI managed to fit in a small replica of their lab in Sittingbourne so people could have a go at conserving some artefact's. I was in charge of guarding the precious Anglo-Saxon brooches and telling people about their history, as well as promoting the CBA's Community Placement scheme! The exhibition and CSI's work received much praise from the people I spoke to and we've hopefully highlighted public interest in archaeology. Between us I think we managed to get a few MP's to agree that heritage and archaeology are important with at least one saying it was a shame we have been neglected over the recession and that there should be more funding available to support archaeology as a whole. Maybe not world-changing just yet, but we have to start somewhere!

This rubbish photo is of the exhibition as it was set-up in Westminster. I had to take it with my phone as I had left my camera at home over Christmas, but I hope you get the general idea of the magnificent space CSI had.

And there concludes my London stint! Next time I will be taking about the A Town Unearthed exhibition. And I've retrieved my camera so the quality of photos should be marginally better!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Update on the past while...

I've been out of touch for a while, everything got a bit mad with the helmet and then it was Christmas etc..... what have I been up to then?

Well, I gave a talk at a 'Local Groups Day' organised by the Kent Archaeological Society and Kent County Council on my placement so far, and of course about the helmet. The day was arranged so the local archaeological and historical groups and societies could meet up and discuss not only what they had been up to in Kent, but what resources and training they felt they needed to take their members a step further into archaeology. It was very useful to me to see what all the groups had in common in terms of what they felt they needed and hopefully we can all work together to help overcome some of the hurdles mentioned during the day.

The helmet was laser scanned by University of Kent (all explained much better in this blog post if you like that sort of thing). Here it is being scanned:

Photo courtesy of CAT

Photo courtesy of CAT

 ..and here is the final image. The results were much better than I was expecting (though in all honesty I didn't really know what to expect!), the scan shows up incredible detail which we can't see as well with the naked eye. In places you can see where the helmet has been struck with a hammer during it's creation; it would have been made out of one sheet of metal and then hammered out into a mold. I've been helping to write small articles for various people and organisations, my contribution to the CBA website is here.

The Dover Boat was moved from Boulogne-Sur-Mer to Ename in Belgium.

A group of us from CAT went over to lend a hand putting our bits and pieces into the display cases which included two large bronze hoards (mostly made up of axes, spearheads, blades, and loads of copper cake), some pottery from the period, and one gold hoard made up of 13 gold torcs. The gold hoard is most impressive with many of the pieces being intact.

Talking of the Council for British Archaeology, they have uploaded our profiles onto the web so you can see who we are, where we are, and a little bit of what we're up too. Mine is here but for a list of the other placements click here. Applications for the next round are opening soon (if not already) so here is a link to the page with the details on. You do not need to be a qualified archaeologist to apply so if you are interested have a look at the details!

And so on to the next while. January is set to be interesting with some lovely treats for me (my Christmas and New Year brought some bad news from home and I could do with the cheering up!). Anyhoo, here are exciting things I've planned for the coming weeks:
- Volunteering at the British Museum! The lovely lady who we handed the helmet to at the BM has invited me to spend a few days playing in the back rooms. I'm not sure what I'll be doing - probably data entry - but we'll see!
- Helping CSI:Sittingbourne with their exhibition up at Westminster! I've been volunteered to go up to Westminster to assist the team in their exhibition. I've no idea what it entails but it's very exciting!
-  Arranging a small part of the final A Town Unearthed exhibition with the pupils of St Mary's. I thought it would be nice to showcase all their hard work and give them a chance to tell everyone what they got up too. I'm hoping that I can have a few of the Year 3's come and help me construct the displays and come to the big launch so they can show off what they learnt from us.

Still going to be very busy in my last months of my placement, te time will just fly by!