Digging Into the Past

A few hours ago Ed came back from his archaeological dig. It was only in Sedgeford, a measly fifteen minutes away by car but I was still not able to see him for a week, which felt weird, considering I was still staying in his house, with his family.

Sedgeford offers a ‘BERT’ course for archaeological beginners to gain the Basic Excavation and Recording Techniques, for a week, which is what Ed was doing there this week, but of course as part of the programme they also have to do presentations to the public on a Friday. Jem, Pookie and I decided to go and see. I personally was looking forward to seeing Sedgeford as I had dug there two years ago and was eager to see how it had progressed since my being there.

“We’ll leave at three o clock.” Jem said. But really what I learned is that when someone says a time they’ll leave at they really mean fifteen minutes later. The thing that stalled us was that Pookie had left her school bag at school and needed to go back and get it, which added ten minutes to the leaving time already. However. At quarter past three all the schools are done for the day and there’s an abundance of cars picking up kids and taking them places that we got stuck in traffic coming out of town. We decided it must be because the schools are done either for summer, or for the weekend that everyone is going off to the beach (doesn’t help that today was meant to be the hottest day). The traffic was so awful it was at a standstill so we didn’t even get out of town until twenty seven past three, just three minutes before the presentation started.

We were frantically trying to call and text Ed to say we were going to be late and to see if he could stall the presentation a little bit, alas no. The presentation has already started. Luckily, the traffic eased up considerably once we left the town and we were quick enough getting there, even if we were twenty minutes late. But it was fine. We made it JUST in time for the BERTs to speak. Ed was first.

The presentation was great. Though the funny thing is that Ed did just about the same thing I did. He dug a trench that was the shape of a quarter circle on the edge of the trench and found…….

nothing. Just a sliver of bone near the top.

Two years ago I also dug a quarter circle (I’m very sorry, my archaeological lingo is a bit rusty at the minute) on the edge of a trench and found nothing but a shard of bone. The only difference is that Ed didn’t lose his bone.

(On my behalf it was not MY fault I lost it. We were called to lunch just as I found it and I asked what I should do with it to which they told me to leave it on the bucket of a lid next to my trench as they couldn’t get a finds tray at that exact moment, and when I came back from lunch the lid, and the bone, was gone. It was fixed, however, because the supervisors told me to write on the context sheet that it went through to enviro because then there’s a scapegoat)

It’s funny though, that Ed and I are dating, and we have done our digs on the same weeks (or just about) that he is two years younger than me and is doing his dig in the same year of school as me and has ended up digging the exact same hole (sort of) and finding next to nothing. However, none of the other BERTs found anything either, unlike when I dug and the people next to me where uncovering cow skulls and bits of metal working.What was the conclusion about the area the BERTs were digging this year is that a lot of it is just natural features from the glacial period (approx 12,000 years ago) which, even though not as cool as a burial or anything is still exciting. Ed did theorise that, because a lot of the deposited rocks were iron rich thought that perhaps it was actually an iron deposit or somewhere in which iron would be dug up and worked which would explain, partly, why there is a settlement.

However, in the next trench (or context, as we like to call it) they found what looks like a house. There was a hearth with what could be a clay floor, some hook thing that they suspect is a door latch and post-holes. Empirical evidence that there is a house. However the coolest find was a piece of daub from a wattle and daub house which had an imprint of the woven wattle on one side and the hand-print of a seven year old[?] on the other. HOW COOL IS THAT! I can’t say it’s every day that mud used to build a house in the Anglo-Saxon period survives.

Of course, while I was there I wanted to find my hole and go through nostalgia, but I think I may have missed that part of the tour. Of course, just being there and seeing familiar people made me nostalgic over Sedgeford, and I think being there again made me realise exactly how much I miss being there and how much I miss digging, and now I am itching to join one again (if I can wrangle some money out of my family Ed and I were going to try and come back as volunteers some time this summer- *hinting towards mum*).

What’s more, is that Sedgeford are actually publishing a book about the archaeology there, called “Digging Sedgeford – A People’s Archaeology”, which is an editorial on the site, which reflects and input on all who have been associated with it, so you never know, you might be able to see my name somewhere, again, HOW COOL IS THAT! The book si being published on the 15th of August this year and will be available in bookshops as of that same date for £19.95 which really isn’t badly priced for an archaeology book. And you can also order it online. They, I believe, are currently doing a pre-publication offer to those who order before the publication date at just £15, and can be delivered outside of the UK too. I’m very sorry if this promotion has bugged you, but you see, Archaeology is a passion of mine and Sedgeford is a site that will remain dear to me for as long as I live, so I would like to share these things with you.

Afterwards we went home, and bought Ed back with us, who is now very happy to be back in a normal bed and have a good shower in a more private setting, and then we went to the beach for fish and chips and to make ourselves even more muddy, probably making this day perhaps one of the nicest I’ve had in a while.

House of Humiliation

I just got back from viewing a house as a prospect for not being homeless during my second year at university. It’s a wonderful house, with lots of light, lots of space and is very clean. It is in the same area as I currently reside, just one street away, so I know the place and feel secure. They house even has a garden with strawberries my favourite fruit! Can I say I love it before I even know if it’s mine. 

I got to the house at 4:30 on the dot, racked with nerves. I had no idea who it was I was going to be greeted by, could have been a serial killer for all I knew, and knocked on the door. First I knocked using the knocker that was down by the letter-box, but then I saw that there was a doorbell. Did they hear the knocker? Should I ring the doorbell ten seconds later? 

I rang the doorbell. 

There was footsteps. 

Oh my goodness! I thought I’m scared. And I tried to shake away the deer-in-the-headlights look. They’re ECOLOGY students, they’re not going to be serial killers! And then the door opened. There stood a woman, who was very pretty and I went blank. How am I meant to act!?

“Hello!” she said, very cheery with a mega-watt smile. 

“Hello!” I cheered back, and stumbled through the door. It was just as I tripped that I realised I really should have introduced myself first before trying to get into the house. Luckily I’m not a vampire (though my nocturnal-ism could say otherwise) so I didn’t burst into flames as I stepped beyond the threshold, but now I looked like a fool. looked like the serial killer. She asked if I was Sophie, and I said yes and shook her hand. And then she showed me around. 

I think I liked the house the second I turned down the street, it sort of reminded me of streets I can find back home in Norfolk with terraces made of old brick. The second I saw the hallway I loved it even more because it was HUGE and airy. 

My mind screamed “I’ll take the house now!” But of course it would be stupid when you haven’t seen the room. 

The woman showed me to the lounge and it was cosy, the sofas were small and TV was…minimalist, but I don’t watch much TV anyway so I wasn’t that bothered. Then she showed me the room, and it felt homely. The place I’m living in right now constantly feels like a hotel more than anything. There was lots of storage space and lots of space in general. Not as much space as my current room, but none of it was unnecessary. 

“The only thing that wasn’t here before is the bedside table, so you’ll need to buy one if you want one.” I don’t need a bedside table, I don’t think I’ve ever actually used a bedside table. There was a hand drawn picture of a zebra on the wall. 

And then I was shown the kitchen, which was lovely, with light pouring in from all the windows and doors that led to the garden with the strawberries. I savoured the thought of having such a large kitchen between five people and not twelve and not having all the flatmates use my stuff and not wash it, or lose it. CAN I MOVE IN NOW!? 

She took me upstairs to show me the bathroom and I had to stop myself from going into all the bedrooms and satisfying my nosey curiosity. It’s hard to resist a good snoop, even the people on Come Dine With Me can’t manage it. 

And then it was the garden and I looked for the strawberries and found the strawberries and there wasn’t a spider in sight. Hooray! I was told that everyone took shares in the gardening. That’s all right, I can dig. I am an archaeologist and my trowel will come in handy. I was led back into the house and we talked about the costs. The most it’s ever came to is about £20 for the person I was talking to, but she hadn’t been here long and said it might be more in winter. I figured it was fine, step-dad can help a little bit, right? She asked about my interests. 

And then I heard more footsteps and I was faced with another person, fresh from the shower but thankfully wearing clothes and I tried not to sound nervous in front of these people which was easy, because I can act and all I had to do was smile. The girl talked about how most of her classes are in the agriculture building for a little bit. 

“I had a lecture in the agriculture building on my first week, I got lost and called my friend saying ‘help me, where is it?’ and she told me to take a turn at the bridge, but there were four turns and I didn’t know what to take, so I went down them all and was forty minutes late when I decided to give up.” I narrated to her, thinking it would be a good story, but like a lot of my stories that I think are going to be funny, and trailed off when I realised it wasn’t. As lovely as the woman is a part of me said ‘thank goodness I’m not living with her, i’m making such a fool of myself!’ 

I was asked if I had any questions and I drew a blank. Was I supposed to ask questions. I feel like I should, like I do when they say that phrase in classes and lectures, there’s a pressure to come up with something great. But for some reason I didn’t think “how often do spiders come into the room” seemed like a ridiculous thing to ask, so I left it and shook my head. 

I was seen out of the door and wasn’t quite sure how to say goodbye. If I am interested in the room I need to e-mail, but I’m acting like it’s just been a date and I need to play it cool, hard to get, and am stopping myself from saying “LET ME LIVE HERE I’M DESPERATE!” at least until tomorrow. If I want it I’d have to come back and meet the other people. Oh dear. I do not do well with talking. But maybe, hopefully, I can prepare myself to be less humiliating to myself and not stumble through the doorway again. 

Deep breaths.

Celebrating the End

Approximately an hour ago I finished my exams! For some this would be reason enough to burst out the champagne (though what student can afford champagne?) and spend an evening revelling in alcohol and parties, but to me there is actually no cause for such action. It’s not because I’m depraving myself of celebration in an act of self-cruelty but it is simply because this isn’t the end. The parties would feel stupid if my results arrive and I’ve failed them all miserably. Hubris is what the ancient Greeks would have called it, the pride before a fall. Like the Trojans I would have danced and drank and celebrated and the results would have snuck in, disguised in an envelope, through the front door before snuffing me out and killing all hope I had. Though this is mainly precautionary. I know that I have passed.

Exams have been strangely easy for me. Easier than A-levels at least. Ed said it was because Archaeology and Ancient History is my language and it comes very naturally to me, perhaps proven in my Trojan horse metaphor in the previous paragraph. Thinking about it now he may be right. All throughout exam season I studied and read books, but I was never the sort of person to sit outside ten minutes before the exam panicking over hand-written prompt cards on Augustus or Thucydides like so many other people did. When it came to being in the exam room I could spew information on Hellenistic sculptures as if I was a walking Wikipedia and could answer all questions with ease. Looking back at my A-levels I hated English Language and almost failed it, perhaps more testament to passion creating success. There’s no point on celebrating the end when I was never stressed out over the exams in the first place, there was no surge of relief at the thought of counting down that final clock and waiting for the invigilator to say “your time is up”. Instead I thought ‘what do I do now?‘. 

Of course, I could have chosen to party hard with a group of strangers writhing en-mass like the snakes on Medusa’s head, though quite frankly it isn’t even my style any-way. Even if I had cause to pop a cork and swing the poison down my throat, I won’t. I think I would much rather soak in good literature than vodka and rather fill my stomach with a chow-mein than empty it on a blurry pavement at three o’ clock in the morning, outside a kebab shop. If I want to celebrate passing exams, making it a year without dropping out or without injury, and having no strange quarter-life crisis then I don’t think I would do so by drinking within an inch of my life.