Today was only ever ment to be a half day on site as it is graduation day. As course leader I get to sit on the platform (back row, somewhere behind the Vice-Chancellor’s head) while the archaeology finalists graduate. This means I had to be off site with enough time to get a shower and changed into something that would go better under my academic robes than fleece and waterproofs. Although, given that academic dress for Southampton PhDs like me is a black velvet tudor bonnet worn with a maroon gown with sky blue sleeves and a matching sky blue hood, you might justifiably wonder if anything would go at all.
As it happened by the time we got to site this morning the rain was absolutely torrential. At New Laund, with its free-draining limestone, we are usually lucky in that the soil almost never gets waterlogged and impossible to work. This means we are able to keep digging through quite a lot of rain without damaging the archaeology or losing evidence. This morning was one of the other days. We all went down to the barn to do some work there. I washed some of Wednesday’s finds, Mike fixed bits of the electric fence energizer that the cows stood on yesterday and everyone one else settled down to reading and making notes on some of the literature on limestone landscapes and cave archaeology of the later prehistoric periods.
The cave archaeology reading group in session. Hopefully we will have some comments from all the notes taken. As well as being a research project, the work we do at New Laund is part of a taught module on excavation skills on UCLan’s archaeology degree. Students get weekly feedback and a grade on their fieldwork skills but they will also have to produce an academic report after the end of the project on what we have found and how it relates to other known archaeological sites. Any opportunity to get up to date with the relevent reading is therefore very important.
By 11.00 am it was clear that the weather was not going to clear up any time soon and it was not looking any brighter over there so we packed ourselves back into the van and drove back to Preston for graduation. Congratulations to Kevin, Kirsty, Joe, Ryan, Danii, Deb, Liz, Mike, Dan and Jo on their BScs; Martina on her MSc and Wendy on her PhD.
Wildlife of the day: there were probably some spiders in the barn.