Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I'm seriously rubbish at keeping on top of this blog...BUT...

The past few months have been rather crazy for me which is why I haven't kept on top of the blog...but things have slowly returned to normal so I shall impart snippets of what I've been getting up to within my post!

Rouken Glen Highland Games

At the end of April, I went to this event with Cara where we were one of many stalls situated around the Highland Games to provide information for anyone who was interested in archaeology and specifically Archaeology Scotland. As you can imagine we had quite a large footfall past our little set up with many youngsters showing an interest in our dig box, clay pot making and quern stone! We didn't even manage to stop for lunch...that's how busy we were. It was great fun and we had huge numbers of participants and a lot of the public signed up to receive further information on archaeology in Scotland...grand day all round then!

My collage of the Rouken Glen Highland Games event...I was demonstrating how to use the quern stone here!

Kilallan Kirkyard

At the start of June I helped Cara run a Kirkyard survey with a local school group of Primary 7's in Renfrewshire. We split the group up into smaller teams so they each had a specific activity to do. So there was recording of the stones via photography and written descriptions; there was sketching of the Kirk and stones; planning of the Kirk and Kirkyard using tape measures and I also took some of the school group into the Kirk to do some grave stone rubbings where it was difficult to read the inscriptions...obviously not on sandstone ones but granite! I asked some of my group if they were enjoying themselves and a fair few of them said it was the best day they'd had in a while, think it was down to the sunshine and the "fancy" camera but a lot of them were actually enthusiastic about their local history, so another great bit of fieldwork in the community!

Kilallan Kirk and Kirkyard

Heritage Heroes

I have recently joined the Learning Team within Archaeology Scotland to help out on one of their new and exciting projects called Heritage Heroes. I have been working closely with Ríona, the project officer for this and the basis of Heritage Heroes is that it is a transitional project from Primary 7 school children who are going into secondary school in August. So myself and Ríona went out to a number of primary schools in South Lanarkshire and delivered a session on what an archaeologist does; we looked at aerial photos asking them to point out features; historical and contemporary maps of their area where they could distinguish differences over time and then we did some practical activities with them. Due to the fact the weather was pretty amazing we did the practical activities in the glorious sunshine! Ríona took a third of the group and worked with them in the dig box, the teacher took the second group and did environmental sorting whilst a led the final group with the Viking Artefact Investigation Kit. We rotated the groups so everyone got to have a go at everything and they were all extremely impressed with their day of archaeology. 

One of my groups working on the Viking Investigation you can see they were all in deep discussion about what they thought their objects were!
We have done this with a number of feeder schools which leads me onto the second half of the project...

Myself and Ríona will be going into the two secondary schools in August and September. Other than their primary peers, we will be 2 familiar faces that have already worked with them on something they enjoyed. We will be doing an archaeological project with them whereby they survey a local castle and cemetery. They will do all the research, the recording, collating of finds and exhibiting their finds with the aim of adding to the archaeological record. This project will tick off many learning outcomes with the Curriculum for Excellence here in Scotland. I am currently in the process of doing some research and creating the activity plan for the survey of the cemetery...all very exciting!

Scoping out Boghall Castle with Ríona

What Next...

Sooo I have been busy as you can see and I am currently working on a Sports Heritage Resource Kit which I hope will fit in with the run up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year. I have a lot of research to do but I am brimming with ideas...I just need to make sure I can get it all done before my placement is up at the end of September. Seriously cannot believe how fast time has gone, it's really scary!

I will be going to Ardnamurchan for a few days to help out with the outreach on the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project. I will hopefully also get a chance to supervise some of the local volunteers who wish to participate in some excavation...YAY for Community Archaeology!

Monday, 11 February 2013

I am back!

Hey hey hey everyone...sorry for the delay in my blog, I have been very tardy with this, for which I apologise profusely!

My last post I discussed the HUGE amounts of paperwork involved behind community archaeology projects...that is still the same, however, I have also been very busy out in the field.

Dighty Connect

Myself and Cara continued to meet up with the school which was part of the Dighty Connect project in Dundee. We met the school group at Finlathen Park Aqueduct and taught them how an archaeologist records features, this was done with a twist though as we asked them to record grafitti. The youngsters set to work by recording size, colour, what the grafitti said, where it was situated, they took photos and used the handheld GPS to record exact co-ordinates of the grafitti. They asked lots of questions and seemed to enjoy themselves which is what archaeology is about. 

A piece of graffiti recorded by the school group (c) Archaeology Scotland

The next session we undertook with them was in the classroom whereby they were telling their own stories of their experiences with the Dighty Burn. We then brought out the investigation kits and asked the youngsters to use their imagination as to what they thought the objects were and to then create a story about that object. Imaginations ran story involving Jedward and the One Direction boys having a chariot race. This was just before Christmas and I felt like I had made a real connection to the kids as they had become more open and trusting of me. They were all so smart with the potential to do anything they put their minds to, it was a pleasure to work with them and their teachers who clearly put in every effort with a school group that struggles to stay focused in the classroom. One of the girls asked me if I thought she could get into forensics as she loved CSI, I told her that she could be a forensic archaeologist as they are the ones who undertake that kind of work these days, she then asked me how she could meet an archaeologist, to which I just pointed at myself! She just smiled and started to ask me all sorts of questions, that to me, was the icing on the cake!!

TAG 2012

TAG is short for the Theoretical Archaeology Group, which is a conference that takes place every year in December. Whilst undertaking my degree I went to several of these conferences as a spectator...not this time! I was asked by Phil and Cara to take part in their session titled; New approaches to archaeological outreach, engagement and ownership. My presentation was to outline the work I had done with the Dighty Connect and to discuss the amazing project I am involved with called Playing the Past. The aim of this outreach project is to get young people involved in archaeology through their love of football. We will be investigating the history of defunct Scottish football teams and their stadiums, the first phase to take place in Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Cathkin Park, Glasgow. This stadium belonged to Thrird Lanark which we will be investigating as part of the project.

We have a number of project partners linked to the project who are keen to get going with it! My presentation discussed the teams to be investigated; St Bernard's FC in Edinburgh and Third Lanark in Glasgow. I also talked about how we would be working with Football Memories which is a charity that comes under Alzheimer Scotland. The idea behind this is that we will be working with Alzheimer sufferers after having completed standing building surveys of old stadiums, 3D models will then be created from that data. We will ask the individuals suffering from Alzheimers to recall where they sat to watch the football matches of the past, which will hopefully begin a reminiscence of their own stories relating to the team they supported. Such oral histories will be recorded to add to our knowledge and to pass on to younger members of the communities we will be working with. By doing this we hope to create a stronger bond in the community regardless of age, social standing, ethnic background and gender...and to have fun researching a sport loved by many people not just in Scotland, but the world over!  


After the Christmas and New Year holidays the Adopt-a-Monument team went to Ardnamurchan to undertake some survey work for the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project. The team did some geophysical survey, we walked around a number of potential sites and began to plan for the summer season. We also got to meet the local school again who came for a site visit, their teachers were teaching them about Vikings so they were very intrigued by the Viking Boat Burial! Some of the local community are keen to get more involved with the archaeology of Ardnamurchan which the Adopt-a-Monument team are only too happy to facilitate. 

Standing Stone in Ardnamurchan


Soooo as you can see I have had a busy few months, meeting new people, doing my first presentation at a big conference, doing LOTS of paperwork in preparation for our amazing new project and generally having a grand time whilst training in a role I hope to pursue after my bursary has ended. I would urge anyone who is interested in community archaeology to apply for the September/October 2013 round of placements because I am learning so much from the amazing folk at Archaeology Scotland and having fun at the same time. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

My first month with Archaeology Scotland = lots of paperwork!!

It has been almost a month since my last post…I have been so busy that I’ve not managed to blog about it!!
After being introduced to everyone in the office on the first day, I had a meeting with Phil (Project Manager of Adopt-a-Monument) and Cara (Adopt-a-Monument Officer). I was given a briefing on everything their team were doing and what they were planning to do in the next year. I was given much reading material so that I could get myself up to speed with projects/activities I will be involved with! I also went to RCAHMS with Cara for a meeting about Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference, which will be taking place this coming weekend in Perthshire. So straight away I was networking and have spent a day in the RCAHMS offices helping Kevin put the delegate packs together for the conference…I am learning there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of archaeology and conferences such as these!!
I have been helping Cara with a community group from Dundee called Dighty Connect. The idea behind their group is to work with communities along the Dighty Burn and encouraging them to take part in envioronmental and cultural projects. Anne who leads this group contacted Cara as they wanted help with learning how to record archaeological features. We went to Dundee one day to walk along the Burn and spot such features but what we weren’t expecting was a group of school children to be accompanying us! This turned out to be a fantastic introduction to those children as their teachers asked us to go back to their school later in October to hold a session with them. I have to say that I have enjoyed all of my time in this first month but that has been my favourite day so far. We took a couple of our artefact investigation kits so the children could handle the objects, they were extrmely engaged and even brought in objects that were special to them or best described them…we saw many console controllers which was pretty good! The session got them thinking about objects in terms of material culture and what objects say about people in the archaeological record, we also had them looking at aerial photographs and they also got to read maps. All in all we had their attention for just short of 3 hours which in my eyes is something of an achievement when I think about when I was in secondary school!
In terms of the future project I have been working on proposals, permissions, setting up meetings with various groups in different areas of Scotland. I will go into more details when I get the go ahead from Phil, it’s all under wraps at the moment but it is something that hasn’t really been done in archaeology before. I am really looking forward to seeing this in action but for now I must carry on with the paperwork…who knew there was so much behind every archaeological project, I’m learning everyday!!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Who are the CBA and Archaeology Scotland?

Before I go into what I will be doing here, it's probably a good idea to explain who the CBA and Archaeology Scotland are and what they do!

Council for British Archaeology

The CBA is an educational charity, their aim is to involve people throughout the UK in archaeology in order to appreciate and protect the historical environment. They have an amazing magazine (which had a 6 page spread on the Ardnamurchan Viking Boat Burial!), that provides information on important and interesting projects/discussions within archaeology.  
Another extremely important project from the CBA is their Young Arhcaeologists Club (YAC). The idea behind YAC is to get children from the age of 8 -17 involved and inspired by archaeology. These sessions are quite hands on which is usually the best kind of learning environment for children in my opinon. When I was younger I found my best learning experiences were those in which I could get my hands on what we were learning about!

Archaeology Scotland

Archaeology Scotland is also a charity which has a focus on community archaeology in Scotland. It is a membership organisation working to protect the heritage of Scotland for its people. They do this through education, promotion and support. The website breaks each aspect down:
"Education: both formal and informal concerning Scotland's archaeological heritage...

Promotion: of the conservation, management, understanding and enjoyment of, and access to, Scotland's archaeological heritage...also campaign for the better care of the nations' archaeological heritage...with partners at the CBA.
Support: through the provision of advice, guidance, resources and information relating to archaeology in Scotland...the Adopt-a-Monument programme supports local groups to conserve and interpret sites that are important to them."

By using archaeology as tool in their outreach programmes, Adopt-a-Monument are able to help marginalised groups which will hopefully give them confidence, better aspirations and a stronger sense of being in the community. It is the Adopt-a-Monument team I will be working with over the next 6 months and I am looking forward to sharing those experiences with you in more detail.


Both of these charitable organisations are important within archaeology. They are both concerned with getting people involved; they both aim to protect heritage for the people of today and future generations and they both educate the public on their historic environment.

Check out their websites, facebook pages and twitter accounts to get more information on what they are about, even better, become a member to get full benefits and support the work they both do (all links below). I have been following what they do since the start of my degree and can recommend you do the same as you will find out loads of useful information along with the fantastic projects they are both connected with!!/Archaeologyuk
@britarch on Twitter!/pages/Archaeology-Scotland/120787415194?fref=ts
@ArchScot on Twitter
@AdoptaMonument on Twitter

Next up, my first week...!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A little about me!

I used to work in finance and before then I worked in retail, I have always enjoyed working with people from all walks of life. Whilst I loved helping people I didn't enjoy the work I was doing so decided that at the age of 25 to look into the possibility of going to university. I always said I would go since I had loved school but time went by and I started to think it was just a pipe dream...I was wrong!

My first step was to look into access to higher education courses. I had always loved history due to the fact I would sit and listen to my great grandmother tell me everything she knew about history (including her own!). She was so good at describing times and places to me that I felt like I was there seeing it first hand, she was an amazing woman who I wish could see me now doing something she would have loved to do herself!

My Great Gran :)

So taking that into consideration I thought about doing a degree in history, after more careful consideration, I came across archaeology as a possible degree. I looked into it thoroughly and thought since I'm a practical person, this may be the right choice for me...I wasn't wrong! I started a 9 month access college course in ancient history and archaeology at ManCat in Manchester. I started to apply to various universities, I was accepted to them all but chose The University of Manchester as it was an amazing uni for archaeology and was also very close to where I lived.

Whilst at college I met some fantastic friends, one of which is one of my best pals to this day (hey Gemma!). We all went to uni as mature students, probably nervous but at least we had each other amongst the "young ones". During the summer after first year we all went to various archaeological digs and when we came back for the second year, we were full of interesting stories to stay the least! We all mingled and I now consider some of the "young ones" to be some of my closest friends.

My second dig was what got me interested in community archaeology. I went on the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project who have an outreach project with Archaeology Scotland. I got to excavate a Neolithic chambered cairn for 3 weeks which was absolutely amazing, however, the ethos of the dig was to let everyone get involved. It wasn't just an academic dig where students are only allowed to excavate certain areas. We were encouraged to be as hands on as possible, ask questions and come up with theories (no matter how far fetched they may be!). The interesting part of this excavation is that they are very keen on getting the local community involved, whether they are volunteering to work on site or visiting the sites to see what we were doing. The fact the local community felt like they were welcome was very appealing to me since I felt heritage should be shared with everyone who was interested. 

I was asked to go back the year after as a supervisor, which I did and this was the year we found the Viking Boat Burial...very exciting times indeed! 

The discovery of the boat burial drew a lot of attention to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula which gave greater scope to involve the local community and visitors to the area. This year I was asked back again as a supervisor and got to work with Cara Jones, a project officer for the Adopt-a-Monument project, Archaeology Scotland. I got to work first hand with the public who were all very interested in the work we were doing, particularly the Viking Boat burial! I think my favourite part of the day though was working with the young visitors by making clay pots with them...unfortunately mine broke in transit on the way back to Manchester!

Prior to going on this dig, the CBA announced 12 new community archaeology training placements. I applied for three of the posts including with the host organisation Archaeology Scotland. Whilst at Ardnamurchan I discovered I had been short listed for an interview with Archaeology Scotland which was taking place in their office less than a week after I was to get back home from the dig. I was nervous and excited at the same time as this was something I really enjoyed! The interview process involved a short presentation by me on why community archaeology is important followed by the traditional interview type questions.  A few days later I was offered the post and to say I was excited was an understatement!

The reason I am going to do this blog is so that you can keep up with my adventures up here in Scotland. I hope that by writing about this you all get to see why community archaeology is so important, it's not just about digging, it's so much more than that. I will be telling you about the amazing outreach programmes that Archaeology Scotland and specifically Adopt-a-Monument are involved in. My role will be focussed specifically on developing youth engagement which I am greatly looking forward to. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CBA and the Heritage Lottery Fund for my bursary so that I can learn and work with an amazing team at Archaeology Scotland!