Time flies when you're having fun?!

Posted on 22 July 2013 by Claire - University of Leicester Intern

Unbelievably it's the end of my third week on the Greyfriars 2 dig. I have absolutely no idea where the time has gone, but don't they say time flies when you're having fun?! Well time also flies when you're busy digging, mattocking, barrowing and a whole host of other things the life of an archaeologist involves! In fact I have really begun to appreciate in the last few days what a diverse range of tasks have to be completed on site!

Intern Claire
Intern Claire learns how to level archaeological features.
Archaeologist Leon Hunt and Intern Claire
Archaeologist Leon Hunt and Intern Claire prepare to level the walls on the south side of the Friary.

One of my best days last week was Thursday, when Mat asked me to have a bit of a clean up by the choir stall and see what was going on between that and the floor area that had been uncovered. After a short while digging it became apparent that some broken floor tiles were at the bottom of the layer I was trowelling through, so the decision was made to leave them in situ while just removing the loose soil. It took me pretty much all day to do so, but it was fascinating gradually uncovering more and more bits of tile. Especially when I'd expected just soil and nothing much of interest. When I'd finished Mat was also able to tell that the area was actually a grave cut and deduced that the broken tiles were probably from the nearby floor area and had been allowed to fall into the grave cut when the gravestone was robbed out. This intrigued me as it was the first real evidence I had uncovered of human activity. Someone had done this hundreds of years ago and the proof of their actions was there! I'm pretty sure no one else was as excited as me about my pile of what was in effect rubbish, but I was proud of it. I did offer to sleep on site that night to protect my 'rubbish', but I was assured it would all be fine, haha! I guess that's the thing, mostly archaeologists are looking at 'rubbish', anything and everything that has been discarded by previous generations that helps unravel the mystery of how people before us lived. Anyway, as for my particular 'rubbish', Mat decided it was a feature and needed recording, so he explained about context numbers and suchlike, and assigned my little area one. That seemed like a little milestone... something I've done will be recorded for future generations to see if they want to, which is pretty cool.

So what else have I learned in the last couple of weeks? Well I have learned there is a lot of cleaning up to be done and in fact one day this week I spent about 7 hours cleaning walls and floors with brushes and trowels ready for recording, and though it sounds tedious I actually quite enjoyed it. Funny when my kitchen floor is lucky to get three minutes of my time, haha! I've also been shown the basics of planning and tried my hand at it. It seems incredibly complicated and I keep trying to shy away from it, but the archs have realised that and are deliberately encouraging me to try. They're all great like that and never lose patience, which is exactly what you need when you're scared of making mistakes. Today I was shown levelling and helped record levels for part of the site, and although I was initially wary of the equipment and getting the readings wrong I soon got the hang of it. Thus I'm 3 weeks in and I'm still surprised at how much goes into a dig, and I have a feeling I'm yet to witness more! I can't believe there's only a week left :-(

Share this page:

Share this page:

About the blog

Keep up to date with the progress of the Grey Friars Dig Part II throughout July 2013 via regular updates on this site. The body of King Richard III was discovered here in 2012 – who and what else lies beneath this now-famous car park?

Image Gallery

There is a selection of images on our Flickr channel

School of Archaeology and Ancient History University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) Sign up for course information