While Phil Andrews and Angus Forshaw are busy going over the paperwork from the Barrow Clump excavation, I have the far more exciting job of recruiting and working with volunteers to process the mountains of artefacts, human remains and grave samples from the dig.

Members of the local communities were able to learn more about the opportunities on offer at a volunteer consultation meeting on 28th August. At this meeting, I encouraged people to have their say about the direction of the project and the final exhibition and spoke about the post-excavation processing activities that need to be done, which include washing human remains, washing and marking other artefacts and wet sieving grave samples.

The response from volunteers, inspired by the Operation Nightingale excavation, has been fantastic. The group has started work this week with initial training sessions led by specialists from Wessex Archaeology. On Monday we learnt how to process human remains under the guidance of Sue Nelson, Finds Supervisor, and Jackie McKinley, Senior Osteoarchaeologist. On Tuesday we were shown the ropes for sieving grave samples by Nicki Mulhall, Environmental Processing Supervisor.

Dan, one of the Project Florence volunteers who had the opportunity to dig at Barrow Clump, has described his experiences of washing human remains for the blog:

Having been used to digging, I found it really interesting to take things to the next level by washing the finds and giving them some context. Using water, toothbrushes and cocktail sticks I worked on the left leg, hand and upper right arm bone of a male Saxon warrior. The process was quite humbling and the utmost care needed to be taken, not only to preserve the evidence but also to show respect. I felt this was a very rewarding exercise and look forward to working more with stones and bones!

Volunteer sessions will be held on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Wessex Archaeology offices and are open to anyone over the age of 16 who would like to get involved. If you are interested in coming along please contact Laura Joyner, Project Florence Officer, on 01722 326867 or at l.joyner@wessexarch.co.uk.

Find out more about our volunteering opportunities by clicking here.

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