After the dig and a fortnight of holiday I have been back to driving a desk all this week. It is six weeks since I have used the office as anything other than a convenient space to park equipment, finds and records. A little bit of sorting out was required. By the end of the week I got it so you could see most of the floor at my end of the office.
I am not naturally the sort of person who has either a tidy desk or a neatly organised list of what they are supposed to be doing when, but I do see that if I was then my life would be a lot more straightforward. Every so often, just before the start of the academic year is a favourite time, I make fervent resolutions about being more organised and then try to stick to them. So, the project records needed to be organised and archived, and I have been trying to extend the battle against entropy into the rest of my life at the same time.
One of the reasons we need to get the records copied and archived is so that they can be made available to the students. The UCLan undergraduates who worked on the project did so as part of various fieldwork modules. Some of their assessment for these modules is based on how well they learnt all the excavation and recording skills, they get a grade at the end of each week of any project they work on, but they also have to write a report on the archaeology they uncovered. Precisely what they have to write depends on which year they are in but most of them will need access to copies of the plans they drew and context sheets they filled in. The easiest way to do this, as these records all have to be scanned anyway to back them up, is to make all the records available electronically as PDFs.
I spent most of Thursday in the copier room. As is traditional in educational establishments, this is a windowless box about the size of an aeroplane toilet. In theory, modern copiers are sophisticated enough to feed a stack of records in, scan them, convert the scan to a PDF and email you the resulting file. In previous years this has led to conflict between what we regard as an over finicky document feeder and what Canon doubtless think is an outrageously tattered and grubby pile of paper. This year everything went very smoothly, either because we have just had delivery of a new copier or because the dry summer meant that so much less mud and rain got on the records while they were out on the dig. The sheet above is the front page of the context record for H12, one of the layers within the large postholes on the south-west side of trench H.
I have also been scanning the field drawings. This took slightly longer as they are all drawn on A3 sheets of plastic film which definitely won’t go through the document feeder. This is the sheet with the plans and section drawing for the various stages of the excavation of the feature which contained context H12.
Next week I will be helping Jim set up for his new project at Ribchester, so the carefully ordered office/life resolutions will doubtless quickly be pushed aside by the fun of running around surveying between a Roman fort and a very good cake shop.