Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a volunteer digger for Cardiff University’s archaeology department and somewhere out there is a tiny, perfect glass vessel, from a pit at the Roman fort under Cardiff Castle, with my fingerprints on it. I’m certain the prints remain because they had to prise it out of my hands; I had never seen anything so lovely. Forward through time and careers unrelated to archaeology to volunteering at GGAT from October 2015. My work is with GGAT’s Historic Environment Record (HER), populating the database that provides information on archaeological sites, excavations, buildings etc, etc, etc throughout South East Wales. I understand GGAT has around 25,000 records of archaeological interest but no one expects you to do them all yourself! It’s absorbing work, tricky enough at the start to really engage your interest but, as Charina and Calli (look them up on the website) are really gifted trainers, straightforward enough for you to realise very quickly that ‘I can do this’. And they are clever because once you start thinking, ‘I’ve certainly got the hang of this process’, they come up with something new to catch your interest all over again. And it’s also perfect work for the inquisitive, I nearly said nosy, because it’s all about our area. On top of that the staff at GGAT clearly love what they do. I will never forget the excitement of GGAT’s Outreach Officer (special interest: military remains in 20th century) when a member of the public rang in to say that he’d located, using digital photography, a cross on a field near the coast that had been used for aircraft direction finding in WW2. Seems the Outreach Officer had known there should be one and never found it and suddenly there it was. Enthusiasm is catching and, as we listened to the increasingly optimistic, if one sided, phone conversation, everyone in the office started dashing to their computers to try to locate it. I think you might have enjoyed/ will enjoy it here yourself.
Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Thursday, 25 August 2016
My time at GGAT has allowed me to experience a sector of the profession I had no previous knowledge of. Understanding procedure surrounding planning permission, the relationship between companies and archaeologists and the situations in which different report types are needed is invaluable to aspiring archaeologists. Volunteering with such an established and wide reaching archaeological trust has given me knowledge and experience I could not have received from university funded digs alone. I feel as though I have gained an understanding of modern archaeology that goes deeper than just excavation.
Furthermore, I was really impressed with the project's commitment to public engagement with local archaeology and community. It was interesting for me, having spent a lot of my childhood in the area, to discover the archaeology of the region and assisting in making this information available to the public is something I became very passionate about.
I very much enjoyed developing my IT skills and improving my knowledge of the database workings in such a supportive and knowledgeable environment. Some of my favourite challenges were those where I followed development of the sites through several reports and this gave me a major insight into the process of archaeological involvement in building projects.
Where to begin? My name is James, and I recently completed my one-month placement, on the fantastic Access to Archaeology Project at GGAT. I am currently working towards achieving a BSc (Hons) in Archaeology, at Truro and Penwith College, Cornwall. I volunteered for this placement to gain valuable archaeology related work experience, which will no doubt benefit my future career prospects.
I was feeling nervous on my first day, but Calli and Charina were so welcoming and friendly, I quickly felt at ease. I received a step by step walk-through of how to use the HER system, from the ever so helpful HER team. Equipped with my new found confidence, I managed to get to grips with the archaeological reports, and progressed into more varied records.
I must also highlight the friendliness of the fellow volunteers in the HER office. It was a pleasure to attend the placement in the company of such knowledgeable, and pleasant people. Therefore, I would highly recommend the Access to Archaeology Project to any interested parties.