There are three things they don’t tell you when you become an archivist: firstly you will find an array of different sized boxes meeting museum requirements oddly pleasing; secondly having finished neatly arranging finds in said boxes ready for deposition, you will look upon your tidy boxes with Zen-like appreciation; and thirdly, you won’t find the previous two geeky at all.
Last week we loaded up the van and made our way down to Leicestershire to deposit the archives I’d been working on and to get a tour! Like all museums/county archives, Leicestershire Museums have a strict set of guidelines on how the finds should be packed and ordered. It was really interesting to see that they have that same approach but on a much bigger scale to the whole of their archaeological archives. On the tour we were shown an extensive collection of quernstones – some of the most complete ones I’ve ever seen, and then some lovely pottery. We were also shown into a very hot, dry and secured room in which they ensure that the metal items held there (such as swords and coins) are kept in exactly the right conditions to ensure the preservation and integrity of the objects. It was especially nice to think that some of the significant finds in the archives we were depositing would be preserved in such excellent conditions.
I really liked the organisational approach that Leicestershire Museums have towards their archaeological archives as it unifies all the various projects or finds deposited over the ages into one big amalgamated collection.
Speaking of macro and microcosms, the more I learn about environmental sampling the more intriguing it becomes – this may be to do with preparing a box of flots and residues for deposition recently. I especially like seeing the glass bottles filled with delicate pieces of desiccated plant matter and seeds; holding them up to the light makes me feel like some old Victorian botanist.
And who said the world of archiving was boring?
By Emma Carter