Young Archaeologists Club

Canterbury Branch

Febuary and March 2017 meetings

Mar 192017

February 18th we looked at the procedure for Mummifying and pyramids.

In the course of which we mummified oranges and filled them with virtually the same mix of salt and sodium bi-carbonate they used in Egypt . To be resurrected at the May meeting to see how they have shrivelled and dried up and to discuss the effect of different temperatures/places on preservation.

 In March we were given a tour of the archives in Canterbury cathedral by the staff and then a guided tour looking at the history of the site. 

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January 2017

Peter had us working out our maths in practising the skills archaeologists use . Three activities in turn, using rim charts to work out from just part of the rim the diameter of the actual pot, then onto measuring your hand and stride and checking the  accurate of those measurements against tape measurements. Finished with preparing a timeline setting which order time periods came in and actual dates, with brief information as to events in Kent and highlights of each period  to help us understand time periods and exactly how little time compared to overall has passed since the Norman invasion.

Finished with Peter finally unveiling why he had us in November count the steps down from the current Canterbury road level to the level of the Roman road and using the depth of the step to work out the total depth. Talking about why the depth so large in Canterbury compared to the artefacts being only about 2 ft below the current level at the Faversham villa we dug on last summer. 

 December 2017

We visited Dover Museum to look at the Dover Boat the oldest boat found in Europe from about 1300 BC. We discussed how it was constructed , and what goods it would have transported to and from Europe. Also the replica version built in part by Canterbury Archaeological Trust and the information learnt form such replicas. 

November 2017

We were offered rare opportunity by lecturer at Kent University to handle actual Roman coins, glass , pottery and discuss other day to day objects in the Roman Museum at Canterbury . Dr Swift explained the need for us to always use cotton gloves to handle artefacts and how identify the coins and different types of pottery. We also were able to look around the museum and discuss the artefacts and Roman pavement with the help of Isobel,Martha and an archaeological  student.

October 2017  

We gathered together on a bleak road at St Margaret's on the cliffs by Dover. Vince a flint expert who had been examining the area and neolithic life there for over 20 years talked to us about the widespread flint tools he had found in the area and what to look for, before we spread out over the adjoining fields to see what we could find. We then met up again after an hour for Vince to explain what everyone had in their bags. Most found it difficult to recognise worked flint from natural effect of wearing and ploughing  (especially the parents !), but quite a few  found some interesting flints, which we were allowed to take home. 

September 2017

We visited the Roman villa below Dover to explore the ruins and how Dover would have looked in roman times. tried our hands at Roman games and what life was like in those times. 

September saw the club visiting the Roman Painted House in Dover. Whilst in October members will be metal detecting and in November there will be an artefact handling session.

August Meeting- Digging on Roman villa/farmstead 

Kent Archaeological Field school kindly invited us to join them for the morning and have chance to dig on the site of a roman villa/farmstead at Faversham.

A tour of the site and surrounding existing farm was lead by the director of the field school during which he told us why the farm would have been built there , why farming remained important on the site upto modern day, why find other villas scattered along that area of Kent associated with the springs. Dr Wilkinson then explained the plans drawn up of the excavations over previous years and where the walls lay under our feet.  

We then looked at the finds trays and were able to handle some of the coins and other small items dug up this year.

Then we were able to get down to dig with the new members scattered amongst those who had experience to guide them. We all found items, Peter (the branch leader ) found the rim of an medieval or Roman domestic pot, others found animal bones and glass .

To say goodbye as they are off to university to study archaeology and ancient history respectively Lynda and Ellie, brought cream cake and pop for everyone to eat on site. 

30 July 2016 Digging on Iron Age site on Folkestone Cliffs.

A not so sunny morning saw us on the cliff top above Folkestone getting a chance to dig on Iron Age site thanks to Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Andrew from the Trust explained the significance of the site and the surrounding cliff area including the adjacent now reburied Roman Villa excavation, which Lynda (then a YAC and now an Asst. leader) had  the chance to dig on with the YAC's in 2011/12. Amazed at the number of quern stones (over 200) found on the site and the broken quern stones just laying around where they had broken during manufacturing. The size of the round house whose ditch had been excavated surprised us.  I think we all thought from pictures they were a lot smaller. Felt like we were on one of the earliest factory sites and imagined what must of felt like taking all those hours to carve the stones only for it to crack when drilling the hole through the middle.

Most of the 10 YAC's had never been on a dig before so we were given an initial tutorial as to how to trowel from Andrew from the trust and Isobel one of our new assistant leaders, who had been working on the site in glorious sunshine for the previous 2 weeks . We then got down to dig under the guidance of Isobel , Andrew, Peter and the other leaders. Unfortunate that the hot weather had baked the top soil and even with using the sprayer to wet it, it was hard work. Whilst none of us individually found much by end of the session Isobel and Andrew were able to show us we had in in our finds tray, iron age pottery, shells, possible worked flint, animal bone which had been scrapped to get the meat off and bones and teeth showing what they had been eating. Andrew then showed us the complete domesticated wolf's skull they had found carefully buried in the ditch of the roundhouse in the Iron age-cool!!



June 2016 Meeting

Learning basics of using scale drawings and photographs to record upstanding features under guidance of Mark Williams and his colleagues from Wessex Archaeology. Using historic church at Great Monegham as our model we first used a quiz sheet to find out and record information about the church and unusual features. We then split into two groups . One group learnt about why accurate plans are important and practised preparing scale plans of the alter area using the same techniques used on site. The other group were taught how to use a camera on a tripod to take photo's , Learning about what photo's you would want to record the various features of the outside of church. Also hands on experience of the need and process of levelling the tripod and angling the camera securely (LEADER NOTE & LEARN please!). Also how and what scale measure to include in photo to make it useful for recording. We them swooped activities for the remainder of the time.

May 2016

Warm sunny Sunday morning saw us doing hands on conservation work at the Napoleonic Fort above Dover . Always fun getting into the site stooping through the tunnel leading through the outer mound into the dry moat with the fort towering over 40 ft above us . Whilst the leaders and parents shifted bricks pout of the officers quarters to make them accessible for visitors the rest of us de-weeded and cleared out a temporary magazine that was originally used to store the gunpowder and shells for the gun placements on either side when they might be used and then replenished from the main gunpowder store. Unlike our last visit we did not find anything but fun had by all and we got to use our new equipment. Good tour of the site by the appreciative volunteers and found out about the mascot the soldiers stationed there in the 1850's used to take for walks through Dover-it was lion!

April 2016

Peter gave us an informative talk -mainly whilst trying not to step backwards of the top of a windy Dene John mount, on the effect on the Norman invasion on Canterbury. Made us think about what actual change meant to day to day life and the architecture in towns. The fact that castles did not exist before then, that within 25 years of the invasion there were over 250 and what physically was involved in building them. Then finished the meeting with a tour of the exhibition of 25 years of Canterbury Archaeological Trust at the Museum with members of the trust.

March 2016

Club members had a escorted tour of the Oare gunpowder factory site where gunpowder had been produced for over 150 years prior to WWII. Volunteers gave an interested tour explaining what each building had been used for. Designed with thick walls and thin roofs so the explosion when things went wrong went straight up and the owners could re-roof and easily bring the building back into use.

March 2016

Mar 312016

Club members had a escorted tour of the Oare gunpowder factory site where gunpowder had been produced for over 150 years prior to WWII. Volunteers gave an interested tour explaining what each building had been used for. The reason the buildings had thick walls and thin roofs so the explosion when things went wrong went straight up and the owners could re-roof and easily bring the building back into use.

February 2016

Feb 292016

We had an illustrated talk from Mark Williams from Wessex Archaeology Unit based at Maidstone on the excavations they have done over the last year. This lead onto a discussion as to the problems of excavating everything as opposed to evaluate and preserving sites for the future. Mark was surprised that the members were strongly in favour of evaluating and preserving given the lack of money to evaluate, record properly and store that is removed.

January 2016

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For our January meeting we visited the Herne Bay museum and were treated to a tour of this small but fascinating museum. Recently renovated, we were taken on a tour of the history of Herne Bay from the pre-historic to the seaside town it is today. A special treat was the exhibition on seaweed, a surprisingly interesting topic that spanned biology, gardening and fashion designers! A huge thank you to all the volunteers at the Seaside Museum for making us feel so very welcome. -Ellie

December 2015

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Our last meeting of 2015 and we made use of the greatest building on our doorstep: Canterbury Cathedral. Led by Martin Crowther, Community Engagement Manager at the Cathedral, our help was needed developing resources for education as part of the “Canterbury Journey” project being developed with the aid of Heritage Lottery Funding. We needed to come up with ideas for experience boxes based on the themes of crafting the Cathedral and spiritual journeys. For inspiration, Martin led us on a highlights tour of the Cathedral. It is a breath-taking place with a fascinating history. We saw the nave and the soaring epic pillars that have kept the Cathedral standing for hundreds of years. Next, our eyes were directed upwards to Bell Harry Tower, the highest tower in the Cathedral, although the height you can see is only a third of the total height of the tower. From the martyrdom, Martin regaled us with perhaps the most famous tale of the Cathedral, the murder of Thomas Beckett, while the tale of his shrine continued in the crypt. We were also taken into a side chapel, where a beautiful section of wall painting had been saved from the destructive hands of Henry VIII. Lastly and most excitingly, Martin took us into a private chapel that is not usually open to the public. Some of the best preserved graffiti is in this chapel with a beautiful carving of an African woman’s head. It was strange to be admiring something now discouraged on historical sites, but it was much more beautiful than current day graffiti (controversial, I know!).

Our tour over, we went back to the education centre and had a go at carving some of the Caen stone that the Cathedral is built from. Sat with biscuits and drinks, we compiled our ideas for experience boxes; the design of the boxes including mason’s marks and stained glass, but also options for what to include in the box such as documents from the archives or examples of medieval food. It was great to have our ideas part of a bigger project that will allow others in the community to appreciate the wonderful history of Canterbury Cathedral. Big thanks to Martin for running the session for us.-Ellie


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