After the fond farewells of last week, things on site feel a little deflated, but there is much to do before we pack up our site office and head back to L – P HQ in Brick Lane.
As you probably know by now, we finished up on site at around 11AM last Friday morning. The last shovelful of pitfil was shovelled and we handed over the site to a relieved groundworks contractor. But this is not the end of the project by any means. We have a skeleton staff here this week doing the last digitising of plan sheets and entering the context records onto ARK. By the end of next week we should have the complete excavation data up online on this website. This is not the final state of this material, but at least it is a good starting point.
From now on we face the formidable task of collating, checking, drawing, organising and writing about the c.2,500 contexts that we excavated over the last 6 months. To give you an idea, that means 4 files of plan sheets and 6 lever arch files of individual, context record sheets. Chaz will be producing a Harris matrix of the entire site which will later be spot dated and put into phases. All of our finds material is now being washed and bagged according the strict guidelines for archives in London. The first data we need will be ‘spot dates’ from the ceramics and building materials. This will allow us to do our preliminary phasing for the site which in turn will let us study the other classes of material such as animal bone and paleo-environmental evidence. Once this has all been assessed, we will produce a big report called a MAP2 Assessment report. I would hope to have this by the end of next year (2009). This report will set out the quantity and quality of the stuff we found and put it into the context of the cemetery, London and Britain. Based on this we will then do our final analysis of the site and produce our publication… Phew!
Alongside the publication, all the data will be available on this website. When I set out on this project one of my (slightly vain) goals was that this project would be a success if it became a site that was interpreted and reinterpreted by many other people over time, I hope that the availability of our data makes this the case.
Over the coming months, I hope to bring you some updates on the project as we go through our post-excavation stages. The regular daily style blogs won’t be possible now though. I also hope to bring you a few more videos showing the post excavation work and how it is done, but this depends on persuading our usually shy colleagues “the specialists” to talk to camera and also on getting some funding to pay for Anies’ time filming and editing.
We will continue to engage with the community. I will be presenting interim statements on our work to several local history societies and we hope to arrange further school visits to show our finds at local schools. We would also like to produce a small ‘popular’ book about the site and the cemetery which will be a bit less technical that the final publication. Seeing as we found some remarkable things, we might even get an exhibit at the Museum of London… watch this space.
The dig was an absolutely great experience, I learned a LOT about many things. I learned a lot about piling and concrete frame construction, I learned a lot about London and its Roman cemeteries, I learned a lot (often from my mistakes) about working with a larger team of archaeologists and how to manage people. This project has really reminded me of why I wanted to be an archaeologist in the first place. We dug some excellent archaeology and we began to immerse ourselves in the history of the site and whole neighbourhood. We made friends. We conducted the dig in a professional way to a tight budget and deadline. It was such a pleasure to work with the talented crew on this job, everyone bringing their own personality, skills and abilities to the job. Amazingly we had no major arguments and we did have some prject romance so we must have got something right.