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Festival of British Archaeology

Work Experience 2010


Wet and windy rampart profiling!

Trying out geophysics

Archaeologists of the future!

This year the CPAT work experience fortnight ran from the 5th to the 16th of July. The focus of our work was Beacon Ring Iron Age hillfort on Long Mountain near Welshpool. In week one four Year 12 students from Ysgol Uwchradd Llanfyllin High School joined us, then handed over to four Year 10 students from Welshpool High School, Ysgol Uwchradd Caereinion High School in Llanfair Caereinion and Llanidloes High School in the second. The students themselves arranged the placements with support from their schools and 'Careers Wales/Gyrfa Cymru'. CPAT's aim was to give the students an idea of the different techniques archaeologists use to investigate historic sites. The work was undertaken as part of CPAT's Heritage Management project. At the end of the week all those involved helped to produce this new web page about their work, we hope you enjoy reading it.

Their experiences are recorded in the following diary...

WEEK ONE


Spot the Billy No Mates :L

Gus, Laura, Sioned and Charlotte at Montgomery Castle pavillion

Monday 5th July

Sioned Walker starts the online diary...

"On Monday morning we had an introductory presentation that informed us of what we would be doing for the rest of the week and what projects CPAT have been working on. In this presentation we found the Portable Antiquities Scheme interesting and enjoyed learning about cropmarks and parchmarks. We then had a tour of the two offices and met all the staff who were very friendly and explained what they were working on.

After this we went for a drive around the area to visit some historic sites. These included Offa's Dyke, Montgomery Castle and some Bronze Age Barrows. We learnt about how to distinguish between barrows and cairns due to the material they are made out of and how barrows were a status symbol that were built so that they were in view from across the valley. "

Charlotte and Sioned being useful at the back

Laura, Charlotte, Sioned and Jeff setting up the level

Tuesday 6th July

by Laura Weaver

"The next morning we went to the main site we would be working on; Beacon Ring Hill Fort. We were going to do an earthworks survey on a possible back entrance to the Fort. We chose a point of origin from which we set up (using a plum bob!! hehe) a level so we could make an accurate ground grid of the surrounding area. We took it in turns to hold the Ranging Staff while the others looked through the level so that the ground grid was perfectly aligned. Using Permatrace paper we plotted the edge of the Rampart onto a grid by using tapes to measure from the ground grid to the relevent part of the ditch and Rampart. The Rampart was a mound of earth piled up from the ditch on the outer rim, it was another defense against attack.

Throughout the day I was tormented by mutated spiders which seemed to be attracted to my tasteful mustard yellow coat. Gus found some entertainment by flicking spiders at me but what comes around goes around as they say as a 'huuuge' spider crawled up on his neck and was about to 'bite his face off'. He squealed like a little girl (no joke)."

This was the point where we got soaked

Gus, Charlotte, and Sophie doing the rampart profiling

Wednesday 7th July

by Charlotte Jones

On the Wednesday we continued our earthwork surveying over the North entrance of Beacon Hill ring fort. While two of us continued doing the earthwork surveying, two of us started doing the rampart profiling.Rampart profiling was where we had to measure the slope of the rampart every half metre. We measured the height through the level, which was set up on the opposite bank and recorded the measurements on the permatrace, this allowed us to draw the slopes of the ramparts and ditch.

The purpose of us surveying the rampart was to try and determine how steep it originally was, and to find out how deep the ditch was at the bottom of the rampart. By surveying the ditch we could also consider if and how much earth may have collapsed into the ditch.

The weather was quite bad that day as it rained for the whole time we were working. Because of the weather we had to return to the offices early and Jeff gave us some map reading tasks to do, where we guided him to the mental hospital using six figure grid references!lol! so overall although it was a wet day we still enjoyed the whole day as it was good fun, especially the rampart profiling.

Swinging the tape!

Charlotte doing earthworks surveying

Thursday 8th July

by Gus Harris

We spent Thursday again on Beacon Ring Hill Fort, this was our last day on the Hillfort. To start with in the morning we finished off our earthworks surveying diagram by adding hachures to show the steepness of the ramparts.

Then Rich (the Geophysics expert) turned up with his machines and gadgets, these included an EDM and a Gradiometer. The Gradiometer is a device which shows any buried archaeological features (due to differing soil conditions), and so allows us to build on what we already know to come up with a conclusion. A grid is set up at a 10 x 10 size and you then have to walk up and down the lines set by the grid taking measurements, this information is then downloaded onto a computer where you can study the results. We even got the chance to use it, this was good fun and also a challenge to keep up with the pace that the machine was setting! The other piece of kit Rich brought with him was an EDM, this is basically a device which can produce an earthwork Survey on a computer in a matter of minutes. Then to finish off the day, we used the EDM to create a ditch profile.

We then looked at the results that our surveys had shown hoping to find some ancient archaeology, but all that we managed to find was a modern water pipe. Despite the results the three days we spent on the Hillfort were good fun and also a great experience, we learnt loads of new techniques and it gave us an insight into what being an archaeologist is all about. I'm sure that all four of us will use the skills we have learnt this week in day to day life.

Y.M.C.A.!!!!

Visiting the Four Crosses bypass excavation

Friday 9th July

Being the last day of the placements we took the opportunity today to think back over the week and to create the web-page you are now reading in order to share our experiences with the wider world. After lunch there was a small treat with a visit to the site of CPAT's excavations at Four Crosses where a road bypass is being built. We were escorted around the site by Sophie who as well as helping us this week has been working hard at this site in recent weeks. We saw some pits that may date to the prehistoric period and some holes that might once have held the timber posts of a house, though no-one was sure about this just yet and more work was to be done! To finish off the day we had a wander down the road from the CPAT office to Powysland Museum, a great home for fascinating things, from ancient stone age axes to Victorian railway memorobilia and items from shops long closed down.

We will let the students round off today with their thoughts...!

Sioned Walker
Before I started my work experience I thought I would be working in the office perhaps looking at some artefacts. I was pleasantly surprised when we got the chance to do a lot of field work and use different equipment to survey the area. My favourite moment was when I got the chance to use a gradiometer to do some geophysical work. Unfortunately this caused some grief for Gus as he was not as good at doing this as me. Sorry Gus. The staff were all very friendly and helped me understand what goes on in archaeology. Thank you very much :)

Laura Weaver
I was very happy with my work experience, I think it was a useful and an everyday example of what goes on in an archaeological career. It has helped me realise that I would like a career in archaeology. The staff also helped me come to this conclusion as they were very enthusiastic about their work. Thanks a lot guys =D

Charlotte Jones
Before coming to do work experience at CPAT, I was unsure of what to expect. But now at the end of my work experience I think it has exceeded my expectations, as I have enjoyed learning the new techniques in surveying (earthwork surveying , and rampart profiling). The staff (especially Jeff,Jan, and Sophie) at CPAT were very welcoming and enthusiastic about their work, which made the atmosphere while working, very enjoyable, and fun.Thank you!

Gus Harris
I have lots of personal highlights from the week, I really enjoyed all of the practical work up on the Hillfort including learning new techniques and actually seeing the results after all of our work. Another highlight has to be Jeff's Baywatch moment when he came running around the corner of the ramparts with his hair blowing in the wind. Amazing.I have to thank all of the staff here at CPAT, especially Jeff, Jan, Sophie and Rich who were all very friendly and clearly have a passion for the job, their enthusiasm really came across and helped make it a thouroughly enjoyable week, thanks again!

WEEK TWO


New recruits for the W.I :)

Laura, James, Katy, and Glyn standing outside the cockpit in Welshpool

Monday 12th July

Laura Bowen of Welshpool High School starts the online diary...

We started on Monday with the necessary health and safety assessment and learned what we would be doing every day for the week ahead (a schedule we almost kept to). After watching two powerpoints on the work that CPAT does and the projects they are working on and have worked on, we had a tour of the office meeting all the staff and what they did for CPAT. Then we made our way down to the town hall, stopping at the second office and met Rich (who we would be working with later in the week). At the town hall we watched a coroners inquest on a piece of treasure! It was a silver medieval brooch found in Montgomery by a local metal detectorist. It was decided that it was treasure and one of the local museums was looking into buying it for their collection.

After lunch we made our way out of the office and into the wilderness, though we stayed in the car most of the time due to the near constant rain (a promising start for the weeks weather :D). We set out in the direction of Monty Castle (though we never actually got there). The first site we visited was the (literally) invisble Roman fort at Forden. We hadn't counted on the hedge being in the way, and after trying to stand on numerous gates and jumping up and down we still couldn't see. Standing on top of the car was one of the options thrown in, but it didn't really fit in with health and safety standards. We then made our way to Caersws, stopping at the workhouse in Forden and then to the Roman fort. We stopped at Llanwnog church where it is thought some of the stones to build it were taken from the Roman fort.

The infamous WEATHER WRITER!

James, Sophie, Laura, Katy, Glyn and Jan surveying buildings.

Tuesday 13th July

Katy Mascord of Llanidloes High school

Tuesday was another wet day, but we carried on regardless. We left the office to go to Beacon Ring, an Iron age Hill Fort, passing several strange llamas in the process, to do an earthwork survey of the north entrance. This involved laying out 5 X 5 meter grids using a 7.07 meter diagonals using a level. We drew out the shape of the ramparts on the drawing board with permatrace stuck to it with drafting tape (which refused to remain stuck to the board). We had a base line and we measured points where we thought the slope started, by running up and down the ramparts and calling out the coordinates. The people recording the results on the permatrace had to cope with the spiders which seemed to have a strange obsession with crawling all over the drawing board, which caused James to jump up a few times.

We left Beacon Ring to have lunch and then the rain came. No surprise then. It was too wet to return to Beacon Ring so we did some building surveying with our ultra cool Weather Writers. We had to write down the window, door, roof and wall type and sketch the building we were surveying. The first one we surveyed was 7 church street (the CPAT building) and everyone conveniently forgot about the sketching part here. We then did the Welshpool Cockpit.

When we came back we looked at the Archwilio website to find other historic buildings.

Can you tell who has their eyes closed?

James, Katy, Laura and Glyn standing in front of Gregynog Hall

Wednesday 14th July

Glyn Richards of Llanfair Caereinion High School

Today we went to Gregynog to see the building. It was built in the 19th century and was bought in 1913 by a new owner. We also saw the garden that surrounds it. The house originally had 1800 acres. We saw where the grass had died because of the buried remains of the old garden, this is called parchmarks. We used a grid on the garden of five meters by five meters and we mapped out on a graph where the old garden was. We split into two teams and one did the drawing and one measured points on the garden.

In the afternoon Katy had a go with geophysics because she was the only one without metal on her body. The machine was called magnetometer. We used the magnetometer to see the difference in the soil from the changes of the magnetic field, which might show up buried archaeology. All day we had to go in and out of cover because of the rain. We had a free lunch at Gregynog resturant and a reserved table for us, but the name had been spelt wrong, so we were waiting in the cafe for ten minutes and hadn't realised we were in the wrong place. At the end of the day we saw the pictures of the magnetomoter and the difference in the soil.

I dont understand, say it again

Surveying profiles of ramparts at Beacon Ring hill fort

Thursday 15th July

James Edwards of Welshpool High School

Today we were going back up to Beacon ring to do rampart profiles. While we were getting ready to go up by getting the drawing boards ready, it started to rain. So rather then getting wet so early from the rain, Jeff set up a map reading exercise. He gave us old maps of welshpool to look at to compare the differences from today. He gave us a new version to compare. Every map had a bigger scale to follow as the town was expanding out.He gave us all maps of where we lived, so I had a map of welshpool, Glyn had a map of Llanfair Caereinion, Katy had a map of Dolfor and Laura had a map of Newtown. We all had to pin point a 4 or 6 grid refrence to show a place. We paired off and had to lead Jeff to 3 places on the map. Me and Katy led him to Beacon Ring, part of a Roman road and a settlement. Laura and Glyn led him up a Roman road and to a settlement by helicopter.

After the rain had started to settle we thought we might go up to Beacon Ring before it started to rain again. On the way up, like on Tuesday, the llamas were there but started running with us to the edge of the field. When we arrived at Beacon Ring we had two levels so two groups were set up to take two readings from two different parts of the rampart. We set the levels up on the top of the ramparts and ran down with the tape measure to the bottom and up again, but the group I was in set a tape measure down the other side of the rampart as well. So after taking the backsite we climbed back up and made our way down every 50cm to take readings of the measuring pole until we got so low the level couldn't see the measurements. So we moved down to the bottom of the rampart and took the rest of the readings. We came back to the office and started to draw the profiles when my schools careers adviser came to see how I was doing and she and Jeff had a nice conversation about Beacon Ring. We finished of by finishing the paper work we had done during the week we also said bye to Jeff who was going to York and Jan who was going to Cardiff.

***'hovering' caption***

The week was finished off with a visit to the Powysland Museum in Welshpool

Friday 16th July

Again, Friday morning was spent working on this very web-page. We were due to visit Four Crosses again, but the weather has been so foul that we decided to stay indoors for as long as possible, and visited the Powysland Museum. Some worksheets provided by the museum really got the students looking around the exhibits in depth. Back at the office we had a brief look at some 1st edition OS maps from the late 19th century, before finishing off the web-page.

Below is a brief summary from each student on their week with CPAT....

Laura Bowen
Though I didn't know what to expect from my work experience, my week at CPAT has shown me that archaeology isn't all about digging! and I really enjoyed the week. We got to do a whole variety of things and I've learnt new skills. All the staff were really helpful and very friendly. Thank you :D

Katy Mascord
I enjoyed doing work experience at CPAT again. I had lots of new experiences and have learnt skills that might help in the future. The week has been very interesting, the staff were very friendly and it has given me an insight into the day to day work of Archaeology.

Glyn Richards
I have enjoyed my work experience at CPAT it has encouraged me to do archaeology and I have had a lot of fun throughout the week. The staff have been very nice to us all week and we have had a lot of fun tasks and we have seen a lot of interesting things.

James Edwards
I have really enjoyed my experience in CPAT and learnt a lot more about archaeology than i bargained for. I learnt the different things they need to do before doing an excavation and all the other things they do. I think the best part of the week was Wednseday where we were stuck in and out of bad weather and I have made good friends in which I hope to stay in contact with.

Comments by the CPAT staff...

Firstly, we would like to give a huge thank you to the students. Although the idea of work experience is for them to learn new skills and knowledge, we try to organise tasks that will be of use to us. The results from all of the survey work carried out by the students will be used by us in the future, so thank you for all your hard work. We hope you've enjoyed it!

We would like to thank Cadw for granting permission to undertake work on Beacon Ring, a Scheduled Ancient Monument protected by law. Special thanks also to volunteer member of staff Jan Bailey for her hard work and especially for driving regularly from her home over 2 hours away to help during the two weeks.

Information gathered, prepared and presented by Sioned Walker, Laura Weaver, Charlotte Jones, Gus Harris, Laura Bowen, Katy Mascord, Glyn Richards, James Edwards, Jeff Spencer, Sophie Watson, Abi McCullough, Jan Bailey and Richard Hankinson, July 2010.

National Archaeology Week is aimed at families throughout the UK, and is organised by the Council for British Archaeology and the Young Archaeologists’ Club.


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