Finds of the Day

Lesley
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Lesley
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Joined: October 10th, 2009, 4:30 pm

September 18th, 2010, 4:50 pm #1

What about having a 'finds of the day' time (afternoon tea break for example). That way all diggers could see any small finds and not dash across other trenches every time someone finds an object of interest. It would also give those new to excavating an idea of how finds look like as they come out of the ground - which can be completely different to the way they look once cleaned, conserved and displayed in the museum.
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Sue Munro
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Joined: November 7th, 2006, 7:24 pm

September 20th, 2010, 2:56 pm #2

I'd support that idea. Often when we find something of interest it gets bagged up and taken away before you get a proper chance to llok at or photograph it. That would give everyone a chance to lool more carefully.
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Badger
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Badger
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Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

September 21st, 2010, 1:59 pm #3

Some of the goodies of course need a quick journey to the conservators, but it is nice when something big and durable gets shown around. I recall a facing stone with some rather, er, emphatic graffiti being the table centerpiece at tea one day.

It surprises me how seldom off duty diggers from one site drop in on the other....that's how you really find out what is being found.

T.Wolter
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Andy
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Andy
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Joined: September 11th, 2006, 2:15 pm

September 22nd, 2010, 9:37 am #4

A good discussion thread. It actually raises a lot of issues which I think have been boiling for a while, so forgive the rambling response.

Some points from the Trust side on this particular issue........ first :-).

Generally we always want everyone to share in the excitement of discovery, and I sincerely hope that this is normally the case with a major find (altar for instance). With a Roman nail however.................No, I don't buy it.

Always it is the balance between conservation/discovery and of course infrastructure/time/cost etc.

What I am saying is that I agree with this in principle (interesting find of the day, although it is not a contest and all finds have their equal measure) but it is important to remember what constitutes and important discovery is completely subjective, and the final say stays with the Director/site archaeologist on duty. Often a mundane artefact recovered from an interesting context is far more informative and important to the understanding of the occupation of the site. It is not about bling.

Also to consider is the fact that we have a limited tea break, which of course isn't the end of the day...... we could do something at the end of the day......but then people have the bus to catch, children to rescue from childcare....etc, lift to the Youth Hostel etc etc :-). Life does exist outside the trenches for staff, over a 6 month season :-)

Bag it before it is photographed? yes, yes we do that. Infuriating isn't it? Why? often because we don't want it photographed. Often it is more important to get a artefact booked and into the system and ready for conservation than taking a photo. This applies either to the need for immediate conservation intervention or the fact that the site archaeologist has 200 finds to book and 30mins to do it in. Hard to take, but that is often the harsh reality.

Finds still need to go to the lab, so lab staff need to be kept on longer if at end of day the archaeologist takes longer to process the finds (which has to be done properly), staff would need to be paid more......

Extra things like this can happen but it all needs to be carefully thought out and resourced properly.

The next stage...

I think we are rapidly getting to a point where we have two options here, we either leave the set up as it is with minor improvements as and when we can...or we start to ramp things up such as finds handling sessions, lectures, surveying, etc and those carry an extra cost to excavators. Sadly, as we have to staff these things we can't offer it all for free. Would people be prepared to resource such measures?

Of course, we must remember that anything we do we have to do for all. While most excavators come for one or two weeks, it is a 26 week season (6 months). So sometimes minor changes can carry through with larger consequences over a longer period of time. Ultimately our philosophy thus far has been to maximise the amount of time spent in the trenches. We have avoided becoming a training excavation, we do not charge people to come on a training excavation in the sense of formal training. We can offer this, at a cost. Equipment, software, staffing, all costs money, sadly. Maybe we should do this, what does the forum want? what do the wediggers want?

At present we have a range of different expectations to manage, from first time excavator to the 150 or so veterans. I think it is mostly the veterans who want to engage more to the next level. I can completely understand this and would like to help, an open for this to happen, but we have to resource it properly. Alternatively, there are other options, fully training excavations which you can participate on at other sites........ we are at a crossroads, or rather, a great deal of the wonderful wediggers are at a crossroads in their archaeological experience. Go somewhere else to get the extra level of training.. or help to resource Vindo to offer you more. It is really up to you.

Of course next year there will be no off duty diggers.

So here is a newsflash to mull over, some tasters about next years excavations.

1. the numbers will be limited to 25 places per week in 2011, thats 650 one week spaces over 6 months, 100 more spaces than 2010.
2. There will only be one team, the Vindolanda team
3. The excavations will shift from split weeks to Monday to Friday.
4. Next years excavations will be inside the 3rd & 4th century fort.
5. There will be a really exciting package of extra things available for all excavators next year, including evening lectures and a organised social event one night per week for all excavators in the new study centre.
6. watch this space for more :-)

best,

Andy

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Justin-T
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Joined: August 19th, 2009, 4:30 pm

September 22nd, 2010, 2:23 pm #5

Lots to mull over in your post Andy, the most intriguing bit might be at the end though. Apparently there'll be no digging in the vicus or "Beth's area" in 2011...

I have to admit I too felt frustrated to hear about interesting finds elsewhere on site, that I didn't get to see (especially the "Tutunus mutunus" artifact :D ), but having read the above its completely understandable why it has to be done like this. The volume of material recovered every day is so large, its amazing there's time to log it all as it is.
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Badger
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Badger
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Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

September 22nd, 2010, 2:47 pm #6

Indeed, much to ponder, and timely as well, November first being near....

As your decisions are at all times directed by your five year project, does this mean that there is enough material from site B to make a fair comparison to site A?

Or is site B to go fallow for only year 4 of the the plan, so as to "catch up" with data from site A?

The M-Fri schedule will inconvenience those of us hard core types who do B-A back to back weeks...whatever shall I do with two idle days?

More info would be most welcome....prior to Nov. 1st.

Tim Wolter
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Sue Munro
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Joined: November 7th, 2006, 7:24 pm

September 22nd, 2010, 5:48 pm #7

Points taken Andy. Just as when we are there digging away in our area it is very easy to be so engrossed we don't always see what is happening elsewhere, we only see a tiny bit of the work that goes on within the Trust.

The end-of-week talks have been really useful - is it possible that this could be a vehicle for 'show and tell' sessions? Just a thought.

I personally would love to find out more about what happens beyond the initial finding of objects. A trip down to the lab a couple of years back was fascinating but I appreciate that can't happen with large groups.

I'm going to be doing an archaological excavation course through Liverpool Uni's Continuing Education Department this year which includes some training on a medieval site, so that should help me a bit.

I'd be really interested to see what is going to be on offer through Vindolanda next season.
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Andy
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Andy
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Joined: September 11th, 2006, 2:15 pm

September 22nd, 2010, 6:55 pm #8

Cheers Sue,

The whole package at Vindolanda will improve next year, museums, site, accommodation and thanks to the study centre for the first time we have a chance of offering a lot of variety to the program which we have not be able to do until now.

I am seriously considering offering a more structured package for next years excavations for those that want such a thing. What I may do is offer extra things for people to opt in for when they book if they want them, such as survey etc. This will allow people to make those choices for themselves. The end of the week talk will change for sure :-) as we will all have been in the same area all week, I will explore your suggestion to see how we could do something to spice it up a little, good suggestion.

Just a point for all veterans, I will flag up the changes to the system next year in the welcome to the excavations letter, it will be a must to check this out in light of all of the developments which will have taken place. (timetable, where to park, when to come in, where to meet etc).

Great to hear about your course and I very much hope you have an enormous amount of fun doing it.

all the very best,

Andy
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Lesley
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Lesley
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Joined: October 10th, 2009, 4:30 pm

September 23rd, 2010, 10:24 am #9

Thanks Andy - a lot to think about. I made the 'finds of the day'suggestion because all of the diggers are keen to see interesting and informative finds - not always bling! An end of the week talk putting finds in context would serve the purpose just as well.

For myself I would be very interested in a more structured package, though I realise that not everyone would want this. And I do like the idea of evening lectures.

Speaking for myself - I am keen to learn more but it wouldn't be the same going elsewhere. It's the friendly, enthusiastic atmosphere at Vindolanda which makes it a great experience.
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Sue Munro
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Joined: November 7th, 2006, 7:24 pm

September 23rd, 2010, 7:50 pm #10

This sounds really exciting, I like the idea of opting in for extras if you want to as I'm sure plenty of people are quite happy just for the chance to dig.

Like Lesley, I find the whole Vindolanda experience so informative and interesting I'd be a bit worried I wouldn't find the same thing elsewhere! Lets see what Lathom Park in West Lancs has to offer...
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