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Miles' Week of Work Experience


Monday 23 October
On Monday I was given a brief tour of the various departments of Portway House, and was able to see where I would be volunteering for the remainder of my week. After this tour, I was introduced to one of the project managers Si Cleggett, he explained what Wessex Archaeology did, and demonstrated how a project was received and enacted with some of the current projects. Following this meeting I was introduced to the photogrammetry department, where Roberta kindly demonstrated the process of making an accurate archaeological 3D model. She then recruited my help to create a precise model of one of the outside walls. 
Tuesday 24 October 
On Tuesday morning I volunteered with the environmental team. I was handed a pair of gloves, and an apron and began sluicing environmental samples from a Neolithic site. In this process we discovered a variety of molluscs, charcoal, and some fragments of animal bone. I spent the afternoon with the finds team, and was shown how to clean an array of archaeological finds, primarily ceramic building material, but also a few animal bones, and sherds of everyday pottery. 
Wednesday 25 October 
On the Wednesday morning I returned to the finds team, where I assisted Sophie with cataloguing the processed articles, and met some of the more frequent volunteers. I was incredibly impressed by the team’s ability to date and identify the various objects. Later in the day I was introduced to Bob Clarke in the research department. It was fascinating to hear about the process in which these reports are compiled. Bob showed me some of the more difficult reports that he’s had to compile, with very few pieces of evidence, and gave some of his explanations for some of the unusual sites. I was then taken around the library, and given a brief history of Portway House itself. 


Thursday 26 October 
On the Thursday morning, I attended a social media team meeting, where as well as seeing the ‘exciting new conference call device,’ I was also able to understand how Wessex Archaeology’s various media accounts were managed. Following this meeting I was taken to the maritime archaeology department, where I was given a tour of Unit 2 whilst Joaquin kindly modelled the diving equipment. The department also showed me the excavated 17th-century merchant cannon along with Paolo’s excellent analysis report. Later in the day, I volunteered with the heritage department. I was shown how the Environmental Heritage Record worked, and was given the opportunity to see some historical maps of Salisbury from the 19th century.
Friday 27 October 
On Friday, I returned to the environmental department to sort the material that I had previously processed. In the process, I gathered some more mollusc shells, a few pieces of charcoal, and some struck flint. On Friday afternoon, I was introduced to the osteoarchaeology department. Kirsten showed me the remains that she was currently working on. It was fascinating to hear what they could be deduced from such a small amount of evidence, establishing that the Victorian skeleton was a muscular syphilitic, male. Jackie then explained her role, and showed me some examples of the cremated remains that she has worked on. 
It was a fascinating insight into how commercial archaeology works. I was introduced to a multitude of departments, most of whom I had very little or no knowledge of, and met some fascinating, and extremely knowledgeable people. 
By Miles Lonergan


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