Post Excavation Environmental Workshops 2015

Post Excavation Environmental Workshops 2015

Holme Cultram Abbey Post Excavation

During summer 2014, we invited volunteers to join us on our open area excavation at Holme Cultram Abbey in Abbeytown. During this excavation, we talked about the need to take environmental samples and keeping a record of what was taken from where. Most of the time, the volunteers dutifully take the samples and help with the recording of them, but then usually never find out about what happens to them.

As part of this project, we have been able to invite them to take part in the post excavation processing of these samples. After the excavation, we invited volunteers to join us in flotting the samples with Trish Shaw, who spent a week at our office over seeing the process. The volunteers learned that the flotting process cleaned away the clay and mud from the samples leaving behind clean samples which would then be dried and later processed again.

In January 2015, we organised 3 blocks of workshops in order to process the samples further. Sieved into different sized fractions, the samples were laid out onto sheets of tyvek and the volunteers were armed with tweezers. They then spent the days going through the samples, pulling out diagnostic bones of various sizes (magnifiers needed for some samples) as well as any pieces of pottery and metal artefacts. Together we found plenty to be analysed and these sessions will contribute to a report on the fish bone, mammal bone and plant remains report about the site.

Don O’Meara was also on hand to help the volunteers and kindly offered to run one of the workshops to show the volunteers how to identify larger mammal bones and what he looks for in an assemblage when assessing the samples.

We would like to thank the volunteers for all their hard work, as well as the AONB for allowing us to use the mezzanine in the library/Discovery Centre.

Many thanks to Ken Needham for supplying some of the photos.