This video was created by University of Bristol students.
Plus, thanks to BAJR for gifting us with a cake fund to thank the community participants!
This video was created by University of Bristol students.
Plus, thanks to BAJR for gifting us with a cake fund to thank the community participants!
The Berkeley Castle Project (BCP) began in 2005 and set out to excavate and explore the archaeology of Berkeley Town, Gloucestershire.The annual excavations are tied to the formal curriculum. Within the BCP sits the “Engagement Team”, which students can elect to join, and which I manage in parallel to excavations. Engagement is fundamentally embedded within research, and teaching and learning efforts of the Department. Over the past three years, engagement efforts have placed students at the heart of community and public engagement, through free tours, artefact handling sessions, social media, etc.Students take their knowledge of archaeological research and hands-on fieldwork experience at Berkeley Castle, combined with their classroom learning, and transform it into a tangible engagement output. This is an excellent example of research-led teaching taken into engagement activity. The Town Museum Project is one of the many ‘mini projects’ co-run by students.
The Town Museum project
The aims of the project were:
The objectives were:
Regarding the stakeholders:
Students are drawn from all levels, including first, second, and third year, and masters students. This provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn from each others, regardless of academic level. Of great importance is the chance for students at all levels to develop practical real-world skills.
Contact: Aisling Tierney firstname.lastname@example.org
The main aim of my visit to Bristol Wood Recycling Project was to talk to people about archaeology. Specifically, what I wanted to do was to find out why people were making use of the BWRP and what they were doing with the materials they left with. I’ve always found that these simple conversations lead into discussion of wider issues. Archaeology is good at working on different scales at the same time, looking both at objects and at the wider-world systems they are part of. So are regular people.
The person I spoke to most was Kaleb, in charge on the day I visited. I’ll come back to my conversation with him on Friday.
What I noticed really clearly about the place is that a very large proportion of the custom came from young couples. BWRP is obviously playing a part in people kitting out their first homes, itself a really important thing. I didn’t talk to any of them though, I focussed on the people who looked like they knew what they were doing, I wouldn’t want to put off anyone unsure of their DIY needs and skills!
The first person I chatted to was with Kaleb when I arrived. He was doing something fairly straightforward, taking a piece of plywood to turn into a tool shelf for the back of his van. A small job, for sure, but a small example of the interdependence of projects of this kind and independent businesses. One of the main attractions is that it’s cheaper of course, but the person in question was also keen to support the BWRP and its wider aims (see yesterday).
The next person I chatted to was Ben, who I found taking wooden pallets apart.
Ben is a long-term customer of BWRP and used local reclamation yards as well before they closed. I chatted to Ben about the kinds of things he has made with wood from the BWRP (see below), of which there are quite a lot. He told me that he has always worked from a philosophy of fixing rather than replacing things, more for practical reasons than because of any green philosophy. In one sense, what we can see in these regular, very practically-minded regular customers is one of the ways in which people work hard to inhabit individually the world as constrained by politics, economics and more. Yet Ben was also clearly aware of the environmental and social issues at the heart of the BWRPs aims – and the fact that people can do something about them – so he is certainly an important part of enacting that wider network. Here are some of the things he’s made (thanks for the photos and permission to post them, Ben).
Shortly before I left, I talked with Sarah, who I overheard saying she was looking for wood for an art project. It turned out that a friend was being very productive in some DIY that day so she had decided to join in and make a table. She had come to the BWRP having seen it when walking past walking dogs. Her plan was to get an old cupboard door and fill the recessed centre with pebbles and resin. Discussing the archaeological take on BWRP, we moved onto a discussion about precarity in the city, Sarah being a post-doc researcher in a university department where she works in a room full of other researchers all on two-month contracts. I wonder whether the BWRP is also useful as a kind of therapy for people who need to do something practical to take their minds off wider issues.
So, these are some of the people of the BWRP, people who took time out of their DIY Saturdays to let me stand and talk about archaeology with them for a bit. I’m grateful to all of them for letting me disturb them.
I’ll draw out a bit more of what this all means for public archaeology (and urban archaeology in general) on Friday.
After a month of collaborative mapping a new map of Orkney has been created. By thinking big, Map Orkney Month seems to have captured people’s imagination. Our map looks like Orkney, however it is far removed from the Ordnance Survey and the tourist trail of Neolithic World Heritage Sites, brochs and bird watching. Our map is an unfamiliar Orkney, revealed through the experience and creativity of its inhabitants.
Mapping was undertaken on all the main permanently inhabited islands in the archipelago, and on most days during March, often with multiple contributions per day. All the main modes of transport were included: plane, ferry, rowing boat, bus, car, push bike and walking. The imaginary and psycho-archaeological contributions from within Orkney following the journeys of photographer Gunnie Moberg, and Elsewhere including East London, Bergen – Norway, and Wei Ha Wei – China, added another level, blurring the distinctions between past and present, real and imaginary.
Despite what many initially thought, however, it was not necessarily about covering ground, charting large areas or recording what we already know. The emphasis (from my point of view at any rate) was on everyday journeys, less familiar places, stories and creating heritage sites through enacting or choreographing the project. The only loose instructions were to record journeys for a single day within March using a handheld GPS or smart phone, and record one site of significance.
Participants took this how they wished (I did not ask them what they were planning nor dictate the outcome), with some recording part of the day or a short walk, some recording numerous sites, and others keen to show the highlights of and map their island. Some took recording everyday journeys literally and stuck to their normal routine, others chose a day that they knew something different was happening, and some undertook choreographed mini-projects. Media included GPS, smart phones, tablets, text, photos, sound and video. The diversity of contributions is bound by a collective creativity and thoughtfulness which has naturally gravitated towards what could be termed Creative Archaeology. In terms of archaeological theory, MoM is about exploring an archaeology of surface survey (as opposed to the usual trope of excavation and the depth metaphor), archaeologies in and of the present (Harrison 2010) and the idea that Contemporary Archaeology has the potential to find new forms of practice (Dixon 2009). Moreover, it exposes the idea that, ultimately, archaeology is about the telling of stories (Sarah May pers comm). In the context of Public Archaeology 2015, this was achieved through collaboration and multi-vocal mapping – a county wide archaeological walkover survey – with the ‘public’ taking the lead (a public that also includes archaeologists).
For me, the most powerful experience of the project was giving away the control; posting out the technical equipment and basic know-how, not asking what participants were planning, and waiting for the results to be posted back and emailed. The results from this brand of public archaeology were experimental and unexpected. Many thanks to all of the participants, without whom there would have been no project, to the Pier Arts Centre and Grooves Records for hosting the two weekend workshops and to James Dixon for creating Public Archaeology 2015.
The intention is still to produce an A3 leaflet with the new map detailing journeys, sites and photographs. These could be coded and the sites listed with coordinates on the back. Although slightly abstract, the leaflet will provide the potential, and perhaps inspiration, for people to go and find some of these places. Originally, I wanted to complete this within the month, but this was not possible as MoM became rather epic. I plan to work on this in the next few weeks. I’m also going to get feedback from participants about their experience, how they found the idea of mapping with a GPS, what they learnt and why they mapped where they did. One participant has already said ‘you are changing the way people think about space, which is really hard to do, and really good’. Much to reflect upon.
Lastly, I did make a small contribution on the first day, but thought I’d leave it until last…
Dan Lee: Stromness – Kirkwall 01/03/15
In the spirit of Public Archaeology 2015, which encompasses 12 month long projects throughout the UK, I wanted my contribution to somehow connect Orkney with other places and reflect this wider collaboration and engagement. As such, after travelling by car from Stromness to Kirkwall, a journey which I do every day, and going swimming with my daughter, we drove to the top of Wideford Hill. This very windy 225m summit hosts numerous telecommunication masts and dishes which connect Orkney with the wider world.
Also, I knew there was a topograph – a metal plate showing the relative distances to other places – erected there by the Kirkwall Rotary Club in 1968. A juxtaposition of places compressed into a single monument:
Duncansby Head 24m
In recording this site, I wanted to link together these places (and people) across the UK and Orkney physically and electronically, using satellites circulating in Mid Earth Orbit via my small GPS receiver. Later in the evening, I went for a walk up Brinkie’s Brae, a small granite hill behind Stromness with clear views to the north, to try and see the aurora (nearly 50% probability according to SpaceWeather.com), and caught a faint glimpse of green in the northern sky, linking MoM (spatially and materially) with other northern latitudes and electromagnetic storms from the sun catching the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Lara, Leah, Sally, Maria, Lizzie, Kyle, Mary, Saini and James: Imaginary tours of Orkney from elsewhere in the UK 01, 07, 08/03
In response to the idea to create imaginary sites to add to the Map Orkney Month archive, blurring the distinction between fact and fiction as the archive moves into the future, we mapped a group journey around Orkney, using prompts from the real Orkney, but in the landscapes around where we each live.
The plan is to fly into Kirkwall Airport, get into Kirkwall somehow then head out to the Ring of Brodgar with a stop to take in the sea views on the way. After that, we’ll go up to Skara Brae before we travel back into Kirkwall for food and cocktails at Helgi’s. When we’re suitably refreshed, we’ll go back to the airport and go home! It’s a pretty packed day but we’re an intrepid bunch.
1. Kirkwall Airport
“Within the airport Terminal Building, there is a great cafe called Airfayre offering a range of locally prepared and sourced meals, light snacks, soft drinks, tea and coffee. And for those passengers looking for last minute presents and gifts, there is a good range of local crafts and products on sale.”
2. Into Kirkwall
“It is worth going to the community centre at the rear of the cathedral as they have a little film show of the history of Kirkwall and the cathedral, it is free but always worth a few £ in the donation box, there is also a little shop and cafe in there too, you will be made very welcome.”
3. Orkney seascape
Sky, water, islands…
4. Ring of Brodgar
“The location is impressive, the ring is mostly complete and you can touch the stones. It’s not only older than Stonehenge, it’s more fun to visit. One of the neat bits is that it’s small enough that you can see how a small community could create it by hand and yet large enough that you know it had to have been hugely significant to them.”
5. Skara Brae
“Quite a lovely old site and very interesting to wander around and see the ruins and imagine the living then. Staff are friendly and helpful. Well worth a visit to see even though there were several buses there at the time we visited.”
“I love Helgi’s, the drinks, food and atmosphere is really good. I definitely recommend to anybody travelling Orkney to go in to Helgi’s for food, you won’t be disappointed! I love the decor too, very Orcadian! I always have a Viking Wife cocktail when I’m there.”
7. Kirkwall Airport again
Home time! Time for an end-of-day selfie.
Additional guest post appearing soon, watch this space ….
Richard Clubley: Swanbister 17/03
Early this morning Dog and I walked to the shore at Swanbister (HY352049). It was warm and I went bare-headed, without coat, for the first time this year. There was not a breath of wind. The sea was like glass but the angle of the sun was such that it only reflected at the very edge.
Two eiders swam past, right to left, and tilted the sea sufficiently in their wake for it to bounce the sun, like a dream catcher. Each time the surface wobbled the sunlight winked, but each time less than the last, until the sea was glass again.
I actually did this walk. It was a real journey and one I will recall many times in my bed, south, before I go to sleep.
Fran Flett-Hollinrake: Custodian of Kirkwall Cathedral 18/03
It’s going to be a busy day in the cathedral and I want to open it early, so I get up at about 6 o’clock. It is really misty outside and the sun is shining through as I drive to work.
A cruise ship has arrived in Kirkwall on its way to the Faroes, where the passengers hope to see the solar eclipse on 20 March. The mist in Orkney has cleared and it is a beautiful day. I open the cathedral at 8.30am and almost immediately people start coming in. After a long, quiet winter it is lovely to have people to talk to again.
During the course of the day two visitors ask me to open the HMS Royal Oak memorial book to a particular page; this happens occasionally – a family member wants to see the name of their relative who died when the ship was torpedoed in Scapa Flow in 1939. It is always an emotional moment for them, and for me too. I usually try and get a story – how old was he? Was he married? What relation is he to the visitor? I think by talking about the men, we bring them back for a little while.
Mid-morning I get a visit from our friend Paz who is staying with us for a week. He was with us in 1999 when we saw the total eclipse in Devon, and he has come up to see the eclipse in Orkney. At the same time, Sophie the apprentice stonemason comes in; the three of us climb the cathedral tower and wind the clock.
The clock is 100 years old this year, and is proper clockwork that needs to be wound every day. There are three parts to wind and it takes about 5 minutes to do the job. After that, we climb to the very top of the tower and go out onto the parapet to see Kirkwall laid out below in the sunshine. The cruise ship Marco Polo can be seen berthed at Hatston Pier.
After a long, busy day (during which over 500 visitors have come through the cathedral doors), I wait for the bells to chime five o’clock, then I lock the big front door and head for home.
When I get in, Paz and I go for a walk up Cruaday Hill behind our cottage. It has a great view – most of the West Mainland is visible. When we return to the cottage, my husband Andy has made a lovely curry for us, which we enjoy with a bottle of cider. I turn off the GPS – not going anywhere else tonight!
Dan Lee & MSc students: solar eclipse at Unstan tomb 20/03
We stopped at Unstan Tomb to watch the solar eclipse (98% in Orkney) en route to Mousland, West Mainland coast, for a second day of walkover survey for the Practical Archaeology module. My cardboard box pin hole camera wasn’t very successful, but the use of a welding mask and then light cloud just at the right moment allowed us to view the solar eclipse with the naked eye. We then set off for a days walking and mapping of Mousland’s remarkable and unexplored multi-period landscape.
Chris Cox: Egilsay 22/03
What a beautiful day for a walk with ‘Tinker’ my 4 year old collie/springer cross. On days like this it seems that winter has at last given way to spring it is sunny with virtually no wind and the skylarks are singing away overhead. Turning left at the end of our drive and left again on to the ‘main road’ heading north down the spine of the island, another left at the crossroads and down to the first photo stop at Egilsay Pier. The sea is flat calm with barely a ripple.
As we turn West down the track to the church we see plenty of oystercatchers in the fields looking across to Sourin Brae on Rousay.
St Magnus Church is bathed in spring sunshine. Back up to the main road and turn left again to the end of the tarmac at Weyland before retracing our steps the way we have come. Back at the crossroads we take a short detour left on the track through the RSPB bird reserve.
Just a few metres through the reserve we slip through the gate on the Right hand side of the track to the St Magnus memorial built in 1938 to commemorate the spot where St Magnus was slain. Back up to the road and walking up the centre of the island to the Trig Point at 35m above sea level. Looking NE we see Howan to the right, Kirbist farm to the left, Maeness in the distance and Eday to the East.
Retracing our steps once again for about 800m before turning west towards Warsett where the tarmac runs out, we continue on the track towards Cott and then on down towards the Hubbert, a sheltered inlet on the west side of Egilsay looking across to Rousay behind.
Walking south past the Bay of Vady along the rocky western shoreline to the fish farm where it looks like the fish have got their own back (a man in a cage?) before retracing our steps along the beach looking for groatie buckies – but despite best efforts, not today.
At the Bay of Vady – very low tide today, one of the lowest in the year. It’s rare to see this much sand exposed. The tip of Wyre with Gairsay behind can be seen top right of photo. This was the last stop before heading back up the track and home. A really lovely walk on a beautiful spring day.
Diana Leslie: Stromness 25/03
A rough memory of events:
Final post of contributions to follow soon …
Jo Inkster: Rousay 01/03
A typical Sunday on the farm for this time of year. Cattle feeding duties followed by a wet and windy hack out on my favourite horse Storm. Rode out to the Westside of Rousay and my Waypoint picture is taken looking out over Quandale (site of the General Burrow’s Clearances) towards the Mainland. The rest of my day was spent with more cattle feeding, a quick dog walk and some work in the workshop.
Chris Gee: Firth 01/03
On Sunday afternoon we set off on our regular Sunday outing. This time we decided to go up the track into the Firth hills to the west of Holland Farm. We have been there a number of times before over the years. On the walk up the track you can see the bedrock exposed and there are what seem to be small stone quarries at the side – probably 19th century in date. The boys have fun pushing each other into the tussacks along the banks while I stare out towards Redland and the sky. We saw a double rainbow on the way up this time.
The first official stop is a small gully formed by the Burn o Geo. Here the boys have made up a game called “level one hundred”. It involves climbing along the steep heathery banks as far as possible without sliding down into the (very shallow) burn. Up stream someone has built a couple of little bridges that are good to go under. Dams are easy to make with the flagstones. The torrent released when the dam is opened quickly can carry turf divets and toy boats far down the rapids.
At the edge of the burn on the shoulder of a natural terrace sits a large circular, flat topped mound (NMR number HY31NE 17). Raymond Lamb – onetime County Archaeologist – suggested that it might have been either a burial mound or a burnt mound. There is some indication of an old water channel leading from the burn higher upstream around the other side of the mound as if the water could once have been diverted towards it. And even further upstream a couple of years ago we found what seems to be a dam and pond. If the mound is indeed a burnt mound then the supply of water to it would have been of prime importance. Burnt mounds usually surround or cover a water tank which was heated up using hot stones (which then eventually form the burnt mound).
Even though the boys had wet feet and their spare gloves were a bit thin we continued further up the track. On the journey we spoke about the frog that we had seen a couple of years before at a particular point, I remembered a bit of haematite I had found. It’s interesting how a piece of landscape can seem to hold memories and stories. Looking out towards Redland I remembered Eoin Scott and stories he had told me years ago about buildings there. If you could see all the stories and memories of everyone through the ages impressed on the landscape it would be very full I’m sure.
We walked as far as the old peat track above the Hammars of Syradale, into the Parish of Harray I think. There’s supposed to be a fairy’s pool in the rocks there, I was told. There is a spectacular view over the Harray and Stenness Lochs towards Hoy at this point. People used to walk up the dale to the hamars and carve their names in stone Sundays once. Sometimes it’s hard to separate these Sunday walks in time.
Sarah Gee: South Ronaldsay and Mainland 01/03
This GPS trail for 01.03.15 shows a re-visit to the mainland locations for an installation work undertaken in 2012 (title: RePlace Orkney https://hegasaer.wordpress.com/). Without actually ending up at the installation sites themselves, we travelled to a point near the northernmost (Brough of Birsay) and then traversed the Mainland taking in locations at the Ring of Brodgar, Ness of Brodgar and Wideford Hill, before driving to the nearest parking spot to the Balfour Battery, which was the southernmost installation site (where I was interviewed for BBC Radio Orkney: Tulliementan by Fion, in May 2012).
In the time available I could not visit my installation’s westernmost (Hoy) or easternmost (North Ronaldsay) locations, but it was brilliant to have a beautiful day and great companions for a nostalgic trip. And we did manage a somewhat potholey experience to visit Shunan Loch to see a Blue-winged Teal!
Fabulous day, beautiful weather. Magic place.
Rosey Priestman & Brendan Colvert: Sanday 01/03
Helga Tulloch: North Ronaldsay 04/03
Isabella and I went out between planes to feed the sheep at Cruesbreck and hens at Verracott, pick up a dehumidifier and managed to fit in a walk round the West Beach and pancakes at Purtabreck.
Site record for the hen house at Verracott is 59 22 30 north/02 25 39 west.
Jane: Kirkwall 04/03
Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall – I just love this place. I often wonder what it looked like before the roof was taken off. I know that it doesn’t have the best history, but it is still a magnificent building. I always wanted to live near a castle when I was younger (which clearly wasn’t going to happen to someone who lived in Australia) but now at least I can say I do live near a couple of palaces at least! I also love the rooks that are usually sitting in the trees in the palace grounds – it’s like they are holding meetings there when they talk to each other, so I have included a photo of them too.
St Olaf’s Kirk archway – I like the archway because of its connection to the naming of Kirkwall. If it wasn’t there, then the town wouldn’t ever have been named Kirkjuvagr (Church Bay) which over the years has changed to Kirkwall. Also the name St Olaf shows the connection of Orkney with the Norse, so for me this is also interesting because I study the Vikings.
Kirkwall Harbour – I feel the harbour is very important to Orkney as a whole as islands rely on the sea so much. It’s always so busy where the ferries come in too, connecting Kirkwall to the rest of Orkney (so I have included Earls Thorfinn and Sigurd ferries in the photos).
Map Orkney Month map so far:
More contributions from Week 1 to follow…
The Land of the Summer People (2014- ongoing) is an art-science research collaboration between the artist Seila Fernández Arconada and Prof Thorsten Wagener of the Water and Environmental Engineering Research group at the University of Bristol, UK
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