One month ago, I headed down from the East Midlands to join Wessex Archaeology in their Bristol Office as their Senior Heritage Consultant. My arrival coincided with the office’s third birthday, which was duly celebrated with cake and photographs!
It has been a whirlwind few weeks, getting to know a completely new city, new colleagues and new job. Bristol is a lovely city and, luckily, its residents seem very willing to provide directions and advice to a lost and confused new resident! In terms of first impressions, it has outdone itself. I’ve been spoiled for choice for things to do, see and eat; the latter being reflected in an expanded waistline since my move!
The WA Bristol and Heritage teams have been similarly accommodating to their lost and confused new colleague and have obligingly fielded my endless questions! A trip over to Salisbury during my second week enabled me to meet another part of the team, and I look forward to meeting the rest of my heritage colleagues as part of staff training next month.
Whilst work within the office has predictably been that ‘first month’ mix of training, induction and getting to grips with new templates, procedures and protocols for tenders and reports, I’ve been lucky enough to join my colleagues for a couple local heritage events. An evening out at the M-Shed in Bristol to attend a lecture by Professor Steve Poole (University of Western England) proved an interesting and slightly gruesome experience, exploring the history of ‘gibbetting’ in the Bristol area. An engaging speaker, he took us on a journey around the local area, with a brief detour up to Sheffield, explaining the practice itself and its place in shaping local identities and collective memory in later periods.
Last week, I joined Project Managers Kirsty Nichol and Bruce Eaton on another evening trip to explore the University of Bristol’s excavations at Berkeley Castle for their end of dig open evening. Professor Mark Horton took us on a tour of the site, explaining the results of this season’s work and identifying archaeology from the Roman through to the Post-medieval period in the immediate environs of the Castle and Parish Church. The picturesque setting of the site, combined with great archaeology and excellent weather (not to mention, delicious catering) made for an informative and enjoyable evening.
As I move into my second month at Wessex, I am looking forward to expanding my portfolio of projects. I am learning lots about the local history of the area, am excited about broadening my knowledge and helping to develop Wessex’s presence across the south-west.