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Festival of British Archaeology and Work Experience

Work Experience 2011


Work Experience Placements at CPAT ran during the first week of July this year, with four young people joining us for a varied week of work. One student had left school and was interested in gaining experience before applying for a place at university, two were in Year 10 at Welshpool High School and one in Year 12 at Ysgol Uwchradd Llanfyllin High School. We will let the students tell you about their weeks in their own words

Everyone being lazy not working

Above: the 2011 work experience team

Monday 4th July

Jamie Harris

First we met Jeff and Emma at the CPAT office who were looking after us for the week. In the morning we had a health and safety talk and learned about CPAT and what they do. We had a walk around the office and Jeff introduced us to everyone who was in. After tea break it was time for more talking from Jeff, he told us what we would be doing this week. I felt happy because we were getting started.

After dinner we went to Montgomery castle and met a reporter and he took some pictures of us, then he left and we went for a look at the castle. I thought it was good to see how people lived back then in medieval times. Then we stopped to see Offa’s Dyke, it is from the 8th century. Lastly we went to Long Mountain where there are two burial sites from the Bronze Age.

Sieving. So much sieving.

Above: John doing his geophysical survey

Tuesday 5th July

Daniel Lloyd

On Tuesday, we spent all day helping out with a small excavation near Montgomery. Whilst we were up there we had the chance to do a variety of work, including laying out the grids so John could do his geophysical survey using his gradiometer. The Survey will allow us to see whether there are any buried ditches or walls at the site, without having to excavate. After John had worked through 4 grids (an hours worth of work) the machine broke, meaning we had to start all over again! We did manage to get the survey finished, and Jeff and John should have all the results on Monday.

We also had the chance to help Sophie out with the dig. After sieving through the spoil for a while (I have no idea how that much dirt can come from such a small hole!), we were all lucky enough to find a few pieces of pottery. Tuesday was a great chance to see a real excavation, and was definitely something you don't get to do every day!

The students were lucky enough be with us at the time that a Roman coin hoard was reported, they joined a small team during an excavation to recover the pot and its contents and helped with a geophysical survey of part of the field where the hoard was found undertaken by Mr John Burman of Meirioneth Geophyical Surveys. More information about the hoard will be available after a Treasure Inquest held by the Coroner for Powys. Jeff Spencer, CPAT

Measuring out the survey grid

Above: The team hard at work measuring out the survey grid.

Wednesday 6th of July

by Fabian Twist

We kicked off the morning by looking at a presentation of photos from Tuesday's dig and discussed them with the other archaeologists from the office. We then had a look at some shards of pottery and began to fill in some find recording sheets and had a look at the forms that would need to be filled in if Treasure was found. This gave us a valuable insight into the exciting world of form filling, which Jeff tells us is central to the work of archaeologists. Although box ticking was never going to be my favourite part of the week it was interesting to get a truthful picture of what archaeologists actually do.

After lunch we were driven up to the CPAT hill fort at the Beacon Ring. Jeff led us on a tour of the Iron Age fort and showed us the two entrances to the ring while he explained what the site was as well as CPAT's plans to clear the site of trees and conserve the archaeology of the site. It was fascinating to think that people would have lived there all that time ago.

We began our work on the ramparts by measuring out a grid which would help us with our surveying work on Thursday. We spent most of the afternoon fighting with tangled tape measures and battling our way through gorse bushes to put in bamboo canes along our base line from which we could measure out our grid. But finally we succeeded and with our grid in place we were ready to come back on Thursday to start our surveying work.

Fabian looking through a level

Above: Fabian looking through a level to do the rampart profiling

Thursday 7th of July

by Chelsea Bartram

On Thursday morning we went down to Beacon Ring hillfort and there we used the grid that was set up on Wednesday to set up a piece of 20m measuring tape at the entrance of the hillfort. From this we drew out the grid on permatrace which we would later use to plot where the edge of the rampart was. In order to calculate where the edge of the rampart was we used the central measuring tape and had another piece of measuring tape coming from it. Here we had to call out various measurements to enable them to be plotted.

After lunch when the weather improved we split into two groups, one group carried on with the earthworks surveying diagram whilst the other started rampart profiling. This helped us plot how deep the slope of the ditch was. To enable us to do this one of us used an automatic level which we looked through to calculate the measurements of the slope. To finish off the earthworks surveying diagram we had to draw on hachures to illustrate the steepness of the slope. This helped to give us an insight into the job of an archaeologist.

The group together

The group together. From left to right: Fabian Twist, Jamie Harris, Jeff Spencer (of CPAT),Daniel LLoyd and Chelsea Bartram.

Friday 8th July

On Friday morning we started work on this webpage. Before lunch we returned to the field we had visited on Tuesday in order to create an accurate plot of the site using an Electronic Distance Meter. After being forced to take cover from the elements in the car we returned to the office to continue our web page design.

Jamie Harris - My favourite part of the week was when I got some experience on site on Tuesday.

Daniel Lloyd - I really enjoyed the week, as before it I didn't know much at all about archeaology, so this has given me a great overview. Thanks CPAT :-)

Fabian Twist - It was fascinating to see how archaeologists actually work. It is so much more than just digging and looking at geophys printouts. This week has confirmed to me that I do want to take my study of this subject further.

Chelsea Bartram - I really enjoyed my week at CPAT and found that the experience helped me understand the tasks undertaken by an archaeologist. I particularly enjoyed the work on Beacon Ring as it enabled me to see the techniques used by archaeologists, however I can't say the same for the sieving mud. Thank you to all the staff at CPAT for the experience.

Comments by the CPAT staff...

Firstly, we would like to give a huge thank you to the students. Although the idea of work experience is for them to learn new skills and knowledge, we try to organise tasks that will be of use to us too. The results from all of the survey work carried out by the students will be used by us in the future, so thank you for your attention and hard work. We hope you've enjoyed it!

We would like to thank Cadw for granting permission to undertake work on Beacon Ring, a Scheduled Ancient Monument protected by law. Special thanks also to volunteer member of staff John Burman for conducting the geophysical survey and to Emma Turner, on placement at CPAT from Bradford University.

Information gathered, prepared and presented by Chelsea Bartram, Jamie Harris, Daniel Lloyd, Fabian Twist, John Burman, Jeff Spencer, Sophie Watson, Abi McCullough and Emma Turner, July-August 2011.

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