Sunday, 24 April 2011

London Archaeologist

Apart from me doing my first gig in 23 years last weekend,  it being my birthday this week, us buying a new car, and the weather being unbelievably fabulous, something else happened that was also quite exciting.  Well, to me at least.

As I've banged on about in the past, I used to be an archaeologist.  Between 1996 and 2006 I got myself a BSc (Hons) and an MA, I went on digs and I taught adult education courses and lectured to undergraduates.  Then the University where I was teaching decided, in its wisdom, to close down all the archaeology courses, at the same time as the County Council also cut funding for adult education and, bang, that was it.  The end of my burgeoning career as an academic.  And because I was only at the beginning and hadn't had very much experience, I couldn't just walk into another job at another University because (a) all the other Universities were also cutting their archaeology courses so there were myriads of far more experienced lecturers than me all going for the same jobs and (b) the ones that might still be teaching were much too far away, i.e., Exeter or Durham.  So I drifted away from it, saddened, because I had really enjoyed teaching, but wiser for having got myself a real proper edumacation and ending up with both a science degree and an arts degree.  I am so smart.  S-M-R-T.

Anyway, one of the digs I went on was at Tolworth in South London in 2000 and 2002.  One of the main lecturers on my BSc course lives in Tolworth and had been aware all her life of all the lumps and bumps in a field just off the A3.  She'd done shed-loads of historical research on it and felt fairly sure that it could have been the site of the medieval moated manor of Taleorde with a possible associated medieval village.  The site was investigated by Kingston upon Thames Archaeological Society (which has the fabulous acronym of KuTAS - yes, really, 'cute ass'), and the (now disbanded) University of Surrey Extra Mural Archaeological Society (UniSEArch) which I was on the committee of at the time.

The dig in 2000 went on for six weeks and because my knee joints, back and neck aren't very happy when I kneel on all fours on the ground and trowel away for hours at a time, I specialised in working in the Finds Hut, which is the location for everything that the diggers pull out of the ground, and where it's all washed, identified, dated, tagged, bagged and recorded.  It's less physically demanding than digging but it's still busy and you need to be incredibly organised and good at identifying and dating stuff.

What I also decided to do was produce an online Dig Diary.  This was in the relatively early-ish days of the internet but, at that time, I was fairly experienced in building web pages.  One of the other diggers also owned one of the first commercially available digital cameras which he very kindly offered to lend me so I could take loads of photos to upload to the website.  The Dig Diary is still available online but some of the picture links are now broken (just the earlier ones, almost all of the later ones are still there, from Friday 28 July 2000 onwards) and I do actually cringe when I look at the design but, like I said, this was 11 years ago so be gentle when judging my web page skills!

Anyway, at the end of last year I got a phone call from the curator of Kingston Museum saying that they were putting together a display of all the Tolworth Court Farm artefacts and asking for permission to use the online photographs, and if I still had electronic copies of any others.  Naturally I gave permission but sadly I couldn't find the disks that had the electronic copies.  She also asked me if I would like to come along and help them set up the display as I would have first hand knowledge of the artefacts.  Unfortunately I wasn't free on the set up days so couldn't help but was flattered to have been asked.

And then about 2 months ago I received an email from her saying that the 2011 spring edition of the magazine 'London Archaeologist' was going to have an article all about the Tolworth Court Farm dig and they'd like to use one of my photographs, if I was happy to give copyright permission!  Ooh, one of my photos in a publication!  Of course I said 'yes' and filled in the forms they sent me and returned them.

I subscribe to London Archaeologist anyway so was thrilled when it landed on my doormat about 2 weeks ago!  And, indeed, there on page 335 was my photo, reproduced in colour and in pretty good detail.  And I'm damn glad I got all my angles and verticals properly aligned in it too!

I've been meaning to scan the article so I can blog about it since it arrived but I kept forgetting, so this afternoon I took some iPhone photos (which might be a bit dark) so I can finally get round to sharing with you this small triumph of mine:

The front cover of Spring 2011 London Archaeologist.  The picture is of a 2nd Century Roman bronze mount found at Syon Park.

The article

Map showing the site location.  The roundabout in the top left hand corner is where Tolworth Tower is.  The site itself is in the bottom right hand corner, cross hatched in red.

My photo!  With a credit and everything.  The picture shows part of a line of postholes that were filled with late Iron Age and early Romano-British artefacts including the ubiquitous pottery, cattle bones and, more rare, a melon bead fragment.

I'm a published photographer!  Sort of.  No, I am, really.  Not that I get any money for it or anything, and it's just a single photograph in a minor and specialist publication, I realise that but, hell, if I can't blow my own trumpet, no-one else is going to.

It's been an exciting few weeks here at Jones Towers.....


A Woman Of No Importance said...

Wonderful news - Go buy a lotto ticket quickly! It's obviously your lucky time, Mrs J! All the best x

Anonymous said...

WONI may have a good point there - go for it!


Oooh, I am impressed! A real archeologist with a photo in a learned journal to boot! Such a shame that pursuing a career in it wasn't an option – wonder if the area is seeing a new injection of money now there's much more archaeology on TV. I don't suppose you ever bumped into Neil Oliver during your digging days? If so, I would be hugely envious, too, and probably plague with numerous questions about what sort of outfits he wore, whether he held all his conversations over his shoulder and how impressively he wielded his trowel.

Scented Sweetpeas said...

Hello, it is Zoe here from Scented Sweetpea. Yep they do fit adults, it is £4.20 and £1 postage. Off to nose at your blog now :-)

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Congratulations ! That must be very satisfying . Recognition of one's work always is .... just sometimes a bit slow to arrive .