02 JunVolunteer Experiences – Denise Hood

Volunteer Denise Hood shared experiences excavating on the East Kent Access Road:

You will not be able to imagine the feeling of excitement and apprehension I felt on the first day of my two weeks volunteer work on the dig.

I had no idea what to expect and if it had been my job to make tea for everyone that would have been fine. What a relief to meet the other helpers and as some of them had already been on site I was reassured that I would be fine.

After being briefed on site safety and collecting my tools I followed the others out onto the site of a Bronze Age barrow. The task ahead was to ‘clean’ it for pre-excavation pictures – not as easy as you think; it took three days with 20 people on their hands and knees carefully trowelling a layer of surface soil from the feature. I can honestly say that my wrists have never been used to such work and knees were glad of any chance to straighten up! It might sound like purgatory but the sense of fun and excitement as well as enthusiasm for this job made it fly by.

The archaeologists working alongside were amazing, making it all feel like true team members as well as telling us so much about the work that they do and the local archaeology. Amazing to see what lies beneath your feet and to be shown how to recognise some of it too.

On Thursday we were split into smaller groups and I was tasked to excavate a small oval feature with a sherd of pottery on the surface layer of soil. This meant more careful cleaning and removal of spoil (the dirt you’ve cleaned off) before careful photography, then measurements are taken and then the digging begins! Although only about a foot long and 18 inches across this little hole went down approximately 3 feet – I ended up removing spoil whilst lying on my stomach with my right arm down the hole! Not easy, especially when you’re not use to it. Once the bottom was reached, it was back out with cameras and measuring tapes then diagrams and descriptions, all have to be recorded for posterity – all very important as this will all soon be covered by the new road. I must add that all of this work was done with the help of one of the team members – he was so informative and ensured that I know exactly what I was doing and why. A huge ‘thank you’ to him. It seems that the feature was the foundation for a post (a ‘posthole’) and was unusual on this site as no others have been found, what a privilege to have been given this opportunity. Who knows what week 2 will bring?..

Denise Hood, EKAR Volunteer, May 2010

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