CAMPAIGN TRAIL: 60 DAYS BEFORE THE DIG BEGINS
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
The planning for a dig starts a long time before the team gets into the field. Even 60 days before the dig begins a lot of hard work has already gone on behind the scenes...
"Earlier this year we were able to correlate the 1998 site plans with those of previous years, to produce an updated plan of the excavations. Further radiocarbon dates were obtained which have enabled us to refine the research objectives for this coming season.
At the moment, I am making the final arrangements for the dig, and reviewing the records from last year. I am also looking at some of the soil samples from previous years, so that these can be processed."
DR MARK REDKNAP
MARK LEWIS - (SOON TO BE A TRENCH SUPERVISOR)
"I'm not a full-time employee of the museum so I'm not really involved in organising the dig. It's probably just as well, because I'm trying to get my Masters thesis finished before going to Anglesey. The thesis is on the pigments used on everything from Egyptian sarcophagi to steam engines - nothing on the Vikings though!"
EVAN CHAPMAN - FINDS SUPERVISOR
"Since last year's dig I've been working in the museum - mostly with Roman finds - but I've also had to make sure that all the finds from Llanbedrgoch are cleaned and stored correctly.
There are always a few finds from the last days of the dig which don't get cleaned on site so I've had a few students helping me to sort out this back-log. Most of it was animal bone, and working through it gave me the chance to check it for any cut marks or other signs of working.
All that's sorted now and I'm ready for this year's finds."EVAN CHAPMAN
MARK LODWICK - DIG ORGANISER
"I work with the archaeology collections in the Museum when I'm not at Llanbedrgoch, and I'm also responsible for organising the practical side of the dig. I've done quite a bit of this recently, but the most interesting thing that's happened is the discovery of some more finds at the site.
The field at Llanbedrgoch is farmed during the year, and Archie Gillespie - one of the original finders of the site - walks the area to see what the plough turns up. A few weeks ago he brought in a handful of finds, including a lead weight (like some we've found whilst digging), a medieval spindle whorl, flint scrapers, pottery and bits of antler. A bit of everything really.
I've catalogued all of these and done some work on identifying them - now they're with our conservation team who are working to clean them up."MARK LODWICK
MARY DAVIS - OVER IN CONSERVATION
"The finds that Mark passed over to me include some made of copper alloy and lead - both of which need special attention.
For the copper alloy, I'll X-ray the pieces to see if they've got any patterns or inlays hidden beneath the corrosion. Then I'll clean them under a microscope. It'll take me about half a day just to clean the few pieces that Archie has found recently.
The lead is more difficult because the metal is softer. For instance, to clean the lead weight that has been found, I have to put it into a solution and run a low electric current through it so that gas bubbles form on the surface of the lead and force the dirt off.
It's a complicated process, but it's the best way to conserve these finds."
STEVE BURROW - WORKING ON THE WEB
"There may still be 60 days before the dig starts, but most of the hard work on this web project has already been done.
We've had to get everything organised this far in advance in order to be able to put out advance publicity for the "Digging for Vikings" project. So far we've posted adverts to over 20,000 individuals and 2,000 schools - and that's just for starters!
There's still glitches in the production to be sorted out, however, All of the photographs on this page have been taken with a manual camera and scanned in because our digital camera hasn't arrived. We've also still got to finalise how we'll be managing our simultaneous translation into Welsh. There's plenty of time left to sort out details like these though!"