On Tuesday 18th of January work started on two finds processing activities related to the project Celts and Romans in North Wiltshire, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Volunteers have been visiting the Wessex Archaeology office in Salisbury for a couple of days every week to wash, mark, box and bag finds from this year’s Truckle Hill excavation and the field walk that took place at Chiseldon in November.
For the first year since it started the Truckle Hill excavation has produced more than just a few pieces of pottery and piles of CBM, stone and wall plaster. (All of these are of course very interesting in themselves, but not particularly interesting to wash.) Instead volunteers have had the opportunity to wash pottery as well. Almost all of the pottery looked like dark lumps before it was cleaned because most of it was found in the black soil from the Roman crop drier. (Take a look at Truckle Hill: Digging a Roman Bath House – Day 6 if you would like to read about the excavation of this area.) Two volunteers have spent two days washing all of the pottery, as well as the usual CBM, and plaster, but despite all their hard work, there is still a lot of washing and marking to be done.

Another pair of volunteers has been working patiently to organise and record four years’ worth of wall plaster from Truckle Hill. As I said before, the wall plaster is really very interesting, with all of the different colours of paint, patterns and materials that have gone into making it. Recording and photographing all of that detail is very time consuming, but produces great results! It is particularly exciting when the pattern of the painting slowly gets pieced back together.

After two weeks’ work there is still a lot of plaster to be recorded but our very dedicated volunteers will continue after a short break this week, and I am sure they will continue to produce wonderful results.
If you would like to learn more about what happens to artefacts after they’ve been excavated by coming to help out please feel free to contact me. Helping hands are always welcome.