Playing An Archaeologist | My Weeks At Poulton

July 20, 2014

***Wee disclaimer before I write the actual post, the photos that I've posted have been borrowed from Alison who taught me during my weeks at Poulton, which I hope is okay by her. You can follow what Alison gets up to on Twitter, or the Poulton blog- which I highly recommend a read of, here.***

Week 1- excavating a juvenile

Despite my last minute nerves and unwillingness to pause my summer holiday at home to go on an excavation which involved meeting, working and living with entirely new people for three weeks, I can honestly say that I could not have asked for a better dig to go on. 

Prior to the dig, I worried that everyone would be older, more experienced, and so, would have no time for the new-be who had a stack full of questions to ask and techniques to learn. Oh how wrong I was! Sheer short sightedness or, more likely the lack of attention I paid to the sign up page, the dig was actually ran as a school for students, all but one being the same age as me. My first morning, while checking into the Chester hostel I was calling home for the three weeks, I met two other students who were staying there and taking part in the dig, which relaxed me no end and made me think I could actually do it. Everyone that I met at the site were absolutely amazing. Over the two weeks that I spent with the majority of them before they packed their bags and scooted off home, I became really close to them. Whether it was the fact that we were all there with a common interest, the length of time that we were spending with one another, or that if we didn't start talking it would make for a very quiet and boring day, we all managed to bond together and I found myself discussing topics that I haven't even discussed with some friends I've known longer! In reality, we all knew that we weren't going to be seeing each other again, at least for a while anyway, and so confiding in friendly strangers seemed like a normal and comfortable thing to do. In doing so, I found out so much about each of them which just made me like them more, and find even more things in common. I enjoyed it so much, and got on so well with them that I'll admit I cried on the Friday night as I bide farewells to them all. 

Week 2- excavating a baby skeleton which was resting on the legs of an adult skeleton

The excavation was fascinating, and I can honestly say that nothing has been clearer in my mind than my ultimate dream of becoming an archaeologist. The site has so much history to it- I was working Trench I which was a Medieval chapel graveyard, but there was another site with Roman remains, Roundhouse, Mesolithic and Neolithic remains, all of which were so interesting to discover and find out about. I was lucky enough to help with the excavation of six individuals, only one of which was an adult. It was a surreal but amazing experience, being there through the whole process of reaching the layer of the skeleton and cleaning it to expose it, then lifting, washing and bagging each bone. Of course we speculated over how each individual died, who they were in life and what they did, but we were able to draw the line and I surprisingly didn't feel as emotional as I thought as we lifted juveniles as young a year out of the ground. I've really discovered a great interest in osteology, and I'm now considering going down that line of archaeology after I get my degree. Alison, who was an amazing teacher- so patient with my string of questions that I asked daily and showing us each step and technique involved in the excavation process- told us that often archaeologists go throughout the whole of their careers without working on skeletons, and to think that I've had the opportunity to be involved with so many skeletons so early on in my archaeology career, is something I'm so thankful for. After this experience, I definitely want to go on more digs and I'd especially want to go back to Poulton again, to see how the research is developing and be involved in it once again. 

Week 2- excavating the adult and child skeleton

If anyone reading this is actually interested then I'd recommend taking a look at the Poulton Research Project page, and even trying to get involved if possible. The blog posts that Alison has been writing goes into a lot more detail of what we got up to (I was there weeks 1-3) which I haven't gone into in fear of boring those of you who are not history minded, like myself. But I hope this post has shown another side of me and my interests, and another experience that I've had because of university. 

Under the shade tent after a long morning in the sun

Thanks for reading, 
Much love, 

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  1. great post :) Poulton seems like a fascinating place full of things to discover. I really wanted to go down the archaeology road but things didn't work out unfortunately. good luck to you with it all though :)
    julz x

  2. Thank you! Even if its not something that you practice, I think archaeology is good just to read up on every so often, after all it is all around us. Thank you so much :) xx