Guest Blog: Max – We Dig York Weeks 2 and 3

Today we have a special guest blog from Max, one of our trainee archaeologists from weeks 2 and 3 of We Dig York 2022! For more information on the We Dig training programme, check out this section of our website.

We Dig – The Experience

York Archaeology recently gave me the wonderful opportunity of taking part in the We Dig training excavation for two weeks. Their thinking; if Max is supposed to be helping us out on the Archaeology on Prescription project, he should probably know what he’s doing. I will admit I’m extremely rusty on the excavation front, having not done any for several years, so I grasped the chance with both hands and soon found myself braving rain and sun on my knees in the trench. During the course of the two weeks, I had the chance to do more than simply trowel away at the concretion deposit to which I was assigned (because we can’t all have the glamour of digging up the fish pit or the charcoal hole). I was also able to create a record of my deposit by photographing, planning and levelling it, as well as filling in the all important paperwork of the context card (the full details of the deposit, what it consisted of, any features it included and so forth) before finally taking a mattock to it to reach the deposit beneath (to be completed by my successor on site). Did I find many objects? Not really, though I did uncover a lovely little piece of Victorian transfer pottery, along with a tooth (which I maintain is a cows one) that alas I was not allowed to remove from the ground as it was in a lower deposit than the one I was working on. I’m sure it’s still there, taunting me.

Alongside all this happy excavation work, we were also treated to a series of talks by the lovely Arran on various archaeological topics. These included a walkthrough of how to identify different UK pottery types and how to use them to date features and deposits on site, a small finds identifying course (which I will smugly admit I was quite good at, working with small finds in DIG and Jorvik and all), a tour through part of our conservation labs (which was amazing) and a course in creating and understanding stratigraphy diagrams (which featured my severed head in a Viking cesspit). That’s the wonderful things about the We Dig experience; it’s more than just the digging, it’s the added expertise and training you get with it. After such a good time, it was a shame when the two weeks were up to have to leave the trench, but the real world was calling. I’ll continue to keep an eye on updates from the site for the rest of the dig, and who knows? Maybe something amazing is there, lurking under that concretion I drew. Only time will tell.