As new starters to Wessex Archaeology during the lockdown last year, Jono Sutton and I had never even been to the head office, let alone a community event with Wessex! So, it was a lovely break from the screen to get to head down to Salisbury to help out with Wessex’s stand at the Salisbury Museum Festival of Archaeology at the end of July.
After months of only ever talking over Teams, it felt surreal (but in a good way) to finally meet colleagues in real life. It was especially nice to meet people from different departments, who I'd not even met virtually. Working from home sometimes feels like you're in your own tiny bubble within the company, and so it was lovely to get a glimpse of the many other jobs going on at Wessex.
And it was even more lovely to be able to meet the audience for our work - digital distribution is amazing, but at times it feels like the work is just whizzing off into the ether, so it was great to be able to show our work directly to people and talk with them about what we do. People were very surprised that an Archaeology firm were able to hire animators, and excited about the creative ways in which we help communicate what we learn from the fieldwork to the wider public.
I got to learn as much as the guests did, listening to the Community & Engagement team talk about the artefacts and replicas they had to show and handle - including a bronze age dog skull, flint hand axes, and a 3D print of a mysterious Saxon metal box whose purpose remains unknown… As well as families, there were a lot of archaeological enthusiasts at the event, so at times, it felt as though I was learning more from the guests than they were from me!
I got the hang of talking with children about the artefacts we had to show - engaging with them at the level they were at, asking questions and getting them to think about how the artefacts related to how people would have lived at the time, emphasizing the fact that ancient peoples were in fact just like us, but the different level of technology they had access to shaped their whole way of life.
We also had a bit of time to explore the festival; we watched some experimental archaeologists casting tin in cuttlefish shells, making pottery, and producing woollen ‘null stitched’ cloth - as well as talking to some Falconers who practiced historical falconry techniques- complete with Tudor costume!
Overall, it was a really positive experience, and really got me excited to get animating again!
Experience the Festival of Archaeology at Salisbury Museum with our highlights video below!