08 JunVolunteer Experiences – Denise Hood – Week 2

Volunteer Denise Hood continues with her experiences excavating on the East Kent Access Road:

Week 2 began with a few aches from the previous week’s toil, but here I was, just as eager to get going as before. After free coffee and pastries in the Holiday Inn catching up with my digging pals Cheryl, Les and Gavin, we walked over to the site.

Briefings over and new volunteers welcomed, it was time for a new challenge. I was set to work helping Artur, the archaeologist I had worked with the previous week, to excavate a trench in the area that we had cleaned on the first three days.

The whole of the Bronze Age barrow had been marked off with string held taut by nails so we could clearly identify the sections. This was going to be a challenge from last weeks toil as we would use mattocks, shovels and a wheel barrow to begin with, the trowels and brushes would come in to play later!

Artur had started the proceedings by breaking up the surface and then I was let loose with the mattock. This was where I came into my own, we quickly got into a rhythm; one mattocking and shovelling spoil into the barrow, the other would empty the barrow. Then get in the trench and it all starts over again. This continued for two and a half days by the end of which we had reached the bottom of the ring ditch and the sides were cleaned, this trench was now approximately two metres long, a metre wide, and over a metre deep. Lisa, a fellow volunteer came to help too and that made the work easier and we began to trowel the sides and brush the surrounding area to prepare them for recording. The weather was amazing throughout all of this, very hot and sunny with just the slightest hint of a breeze. Sunscreen and ice cream were definitely the only way to get through the days!

Vix, the Project Officer, in her quest to ensure we were not getting bored arranged for us to do a bit of surveying. Back to the feelings of day one – apprehension and nervousness, surely this was all too technical for us volunteers? But no, there we were with all this stuff, measuring poles, tapes and dumpy levels. We were shown how to set up and use the equipment by Vix and Alex and after a few practice runs we were taking the measurements which would provide vital information about the barrow we were working on.

During the week I had been watching all and sundry finding beautiful pieces of worked flint, pieces of pot – both Bronze Age and Roman, animal teeth, horses jaw bones, oyster shells and even a Roman nail. But me? Nothing. But I was undeterred, just to see this stuff coming to light was incredible.

We ended the week washing the finds from our site in the portacabin we have our breaks in. Bones, pot and flints carefully cleaned in water with a toothbrush, shells were gently brushed and cleaned with a wooden skewer to remove all traces of soil and placed in trays with their identification bags alongside. The perfect end to a brilliant week.

I have to go back to work for a week now and am none too happy about it, but needs must. I’m not sure how I will be able to concentrate when back in my dark office after two weeks in the fresh air doing extraordinary things, I will let you know when I get back. Bye for now.

Denise Hood, EKAR Volunteer, May 2010

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