On Thursday (July 19th) we convened at the Museum and Resource centre in Friars Street, Hereford. Our task was to draw up the archaeological plan of the Lower Brockhampton site survey. Everyone involved with the site survey was still talking about the rain, which the sky had tipped out almost every day for ten days.
Before we set to work we were given a lightning tour of the museum stores. The entire building is temperature-controlled to preserve the artefacts, but the store-room itself is engineering genius. The containers were massive and stacked on runners which ran the length of the floor. There was every conceivable artefact including bones, manuscripts, ceramics and tools. I was drawn to a huge iron key which belonged to the old Hereford gaol, and some medieval dice that bear no resemblance to the little plastic cubes used in today’s board games.
I didn’t take Trudy down the corridoor that housed all the bone archives, just in case her snout got the better of her. Having never ventured into the bowels of a museum archives store-room before, I was engrossed. Not for the first time, many people in the group were stirred by the incredible sense of history around us.
Once back in our study room it was time to do some work. Chris, one of the archaeologists, displayed limitless patience throughout the day as he proceeded to teach everyone the techniques of drawing an archaeological map. I sat back and enjoyed taking in the industrious atmosphere. Collective concentration hovered over the room like a powerful orb. Trudy lay beside me eyeing up the chocolate Digestives which had found their way onto the table.
The reason why we need to draw an archaeological map is partly for our own benefit. When we start the excavation in August, this map will show the physical layout of the site and it will help to determine where to dig the trenches. But it is also greatly important for posterity. We have to produce a Master copy which will be the official document for this particular excavation, and will be permanently preserved in local records.
That sense of “making history” caused great excitement and a general feeling of pride. Even those who had found drawing the practise maps a little daunting came to life when Chris displayed the Master copy and told us that everyone was going to make a contribution to this. One of our long-standing project volunteers, Mark, was first to add to the Master copy map. By this point everyone was in really good spirits and there was a great deal of support for each other.
Having ruled myself out of all map-related matters I was very moved when the group encouraged me to make my own mark on the Master copy I was terrified at the thought of making a mistake and ruining it! I wonder if this is how novice monks felt when they were presented with their first manuscript to copy? I’m pleased to say that under Chris’ direction my North arrow on the map (completed by fellow volunteer Margaret), did not ruin the document. (No thanks to Trudy, who chose that exact moment to get up and have a long, Labrador stretch. Her lead was wrapped round my wrist!)
Everyone in the group “made their mark” yesterday. The Master copy of the archaeological map for the Lower Brockhampton site will be a true team effort when it is completed. I know my self-esteem quadrupled and I could sense other people feeling very upbeat as they left for home at the end of the workshop.
Our next public event is on Saturday July 28th at the Falcon Hotel in Bromyard (Please refer to the Dates and Events page for further details). The theme is “What do we know so far?” Please bring your friends and family along as it promises to be a really great day. Anybody requiring transport or further information please contact Jenny McMillan by July 25th: Jenny.McMillan@herefordshire-mind.org.uk