I haven’t written one of these in ages. Times are busy as the diving season is getting well underway. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to.
I have spent the past few weeks recording, identifying and reporting on finds that have been reported through the Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol. The finds range from leather to wood, ceramics and various metalwork such as forks and ordnance. This variety has been a huge help to extending my ability to record and report on finds and understanding what conservation different finds need; but mostly it has vastly improved my object identification.
Other than this, I am still working on preparing several museum transfers for later in the year. This has involved liaising with the museum staff and those within the Wessex office. Being given the responsibility to arrange all of this myself, with no one looking over my shoulder has been a greatly appreciated responsibility.
Also on a related note, the display case in the reception of our Salisbury office needed updating, so I spent a day putting together my first display cabine t showing off finds from the Coastal & Marine department. Using materials received from the Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol, the display was designed around showing the variety of objects and material types that we work with in the marine sector. The cabinet now contains: munitions (decommissioned!), past and present; objects of war; aircraft wreckage; prehistoric remains and a whole host of ships’ fixtures and fittings from throughout the ages. Creating this exhibition was an excellent insight into the mental process of piecing a display together, not only for visual effect but to make the display make sense to those who are viewing it.
I have also now added ‘surface supply tender’ to my list of skills. This required me to look after the umbilical providing air to the diver below, making sure they didn’t have too much so the umbilical got tangled or not enough and they couldn’t move along the seabed. It took a few goes to get the coiling of the umbilical right and I was the butt of a few jokes about pulling divers around, but all went well and the additional experience will no doubt help when it comes to hopefully completing the course myself.
Another task keeping me busy is working on the preliminary research for a wreck that we are diving later in the summer. Using books and the internet for research is nothing new, but being in contact with the Receiver of Wreck and historic environment agencies is a new one for me. I’ve also had to learn to write reports in the style expected by Wessex Archaeology and its clients and I have found that this has had a big effect on my writing abilities.
One final thing, since I am here on an internship (although hoping for more!). It’s great to see the numbers of volunteers around the building, mostly helping out in the finds room. But there are also school students that come and spend some time at Wessex. The latest work experience student, Ethan, is just about to start his final year of school. It is great that these guys and myself are given such an opportunity to learn about all the different departments and experience the work going on within the company. Wessex Archaeology should be commended for its role in supporting the younger generations in the industry. Plus, it’s always a bonus when you find out how much they enjoyed what we are doing.
As you can see, it’s getting busy and I am lucky enough to be involved in this line of work and experiencing the diverse roles of a maritime archaeologist.