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Work Experience

Work Experience 2013


Introduction

CPAT hosted 9 students on Work Experience placements over a fortnight in July. The work programme was varied but mostly focussed on surveying the Iron Age hillfort of Beacon Ring on Long Mountain. We will let the students tell you about what they got up to in their own words.

*** Week 1 ***

The gang at the beautiful Montgomery castle! The gang at the beautiful Montgomery castle!

Monday 8th July

Kate McCoubrey!- ST BRIGID'S HIGH SCHOOL!

Monday 8th July We arrived at the cpat office at 9:30am. We all introduced ourselves and got to know eachother. I was apprehensive yet excited to get to know new people! We then gained knowledge of what CPAT was all about. We were shown around the building and viewed some artefacts such as pottery and a decapitated head of a statue! It was highly intriguing. In learning that CPAT aimed to protect and maintain the archaeological treasures around Wales it gave us insight into what the next couple of days would entail. We then ventured onwards to the beautiful sites on Montgomery situated just a couple of minutes away from the CPAT offices. Luckily for us, the weather was on our side which made visiting the ruins of the stunning Montgomery castle highly pleasant and allowed us to focus on the historical background appose to worrying about the weather taking a turn for the worst.

In visiting the historic site and discussing it’s significance it not only allowed us to learn more about our culture and archaeology but also enabled us to bond over a common love for historical knowledge.

After this, we had the opportunity to visit Offa's Dyke briefly and also Bronze Age barrows and take a journey across the timeline all in one day! In visiting the barrows it lent perspective and insight into how our predecessors once lived and how their minds worked. It also portrayed a sense of territory lending priority and power being a necessity. Although from a ground view the barrows weren’t blatantly impressive land marks, from the skyline these sights were prominent and it is assumed they were placed there to mark the inhabitants’ dominance upon the land. Our first day with CPAT was highly successful and allowed us to gain insight of ancient cultures which evolved throughout time. This is evident through archaeological evidence. Therefore, through visiting these places it implemented the significance of archaeological study within society as it allows us to continue evolving and learn from our errors, yet also enables us to appreciate what came before us. To quote Cicero “to remain ignorant to things that happened before we were born is to remain a child.”

Beacon Ring from the air

Beacon Ring from the air

Sarah Williams - Welshpool High School

Monday morning - we all sat in the meeting room where we introduced ourselves and were told all about CPAT and what we would be doing for the following week. After the introduction, we were given a tour of the building and told by each member of staff about what they do and gained insight into the everyday life of the Archaeologist. We were shown some of the pieces of pottery and clay pipes that had been discovered by some of the members of CPAT, and shown how to wash, clean and store them. After lunch we went to Montgomery castle to explore and find out about its history, we spent about an hour examining the historic castle before going up Long Mountain to look at some Bronze Age barrows. I found out that the lump in the grass was actually there for a reason [an ancient burial site] and what it was, and not just a lump in the grass. After a long day in the sun we left at five ready for the next day.

Sophie and Sarah doing some investigating of the Beacon Ring rampart!

Sophie and Sarah doing some investigating of the Beacon Ring rampart with handheld GPS!

Tuesday 9th July

Sophie Cooledge

We spent the morning at Beacon Ring, where we surveyed the area in two groups, one group using the more modern method of using a handheld GPS, the others using the more traditional compass to plot the rampart of the Iron Age fort. For the traditional compass method we sent Kate with a ranging rod around the highest part of the rampart, where Meical and Scarlett measured the angle from north to where the rampart changed direction. For the GPS method, Sophie and Sara went around the rampart, stopping every 5 metres to take a GPS reading. However, for the handheld compass method, there was an error in the method, we forgot to measure the distance in which Kate had travelled which is needed in order to get the points as accurate as possible. In returning to the office we plotted the GPS readings on to Map Info Professional [a GIS or digital mapping programme]. The GPS readings resulted in the map looking like a proper reading of the hill fort and gave us a good view of what the hill fort looks like from above.

Scarlett Banfield

I was looking forward to today’s adventures and getting to know the new people who I had met only the day before. We arrived at the Beacon Ring that we had heard so much about on the previous day filled with excitement and anticipation. The site itself was picturesque, with fabulous views over the nearby town and a wooded area that provided some relief from the relentless sun. It was beautiful.

Ready for the compass survey

Ready for the compass survey

We were split into two groups, myself, Kate and Meical and then Sarah and Sophie. This allowed us to get to know each other better as we all wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible in order to sit down in the shade. The team I was in was set with the task of using a compass and a ranging rod to find out when the Beacon Ring changed direction. This we did, even after I missed my footing and slid down the hill in what I am sure was an elegant and graceful style! Together, the three of us walked around the entire hill fort, grappling with nettles and biting bugs. We had collected all of data and returned to Jeff where we met with the other two. They had been using a GPS to mark their location. When we returned we realised that we had made a most fateful error. In all our excitement, we had forgotten to measure the distances between each of our readings, making it impossible to calculate the forts size and shape. Although our readings were useless, thankfully Sarah and Sophie had, by the use of technology, collected enough data for us to use.

We arrived back at the offices and wondered what our next task was to be. Using the successful readings, we plotted the points on a programme that allowed us to see the Beacon Ring from a map perspective. This lead us to feel a great sense of achievement and we all felt as if we were real archaeologists.

Our Wednesday adventure! Laying out the site grid

Our Wednesday adventure! Laying out the site grid

Wednesday 10th July

Meical Jones - Welshpool High School

We arrived at the office at 9:30 and dispersed up to the hill fort in two cars around 10 o’clock. Upon arriving at the Beacon Ring hill fort we set up the level on the tripod and set it to North. We used the level to accurately set out the site grid, with a baseline of 30 metres north and 20 metres south. We also used the level to set out an east to west line which added up to 20 metres overall, 10 metres on both sides. We used ranging rods to set up at 10 metre intervals, which were plainly visible from the level in order for them all to be in the same line. We exchanged the ranging rods with bamboo sticks, which seemed a challenge to put into the hard ground, due to us having a limited supply of ranging rods, and we needed them to set out the site grid. After setting out the site grid, which consisted of tape measures and bamboo sticks, we set up the drawing boards, which had perma-trace paper on it, to stop it smudging in wet weather, but we were lucky with the weather as it was very hot and sunny all throughout the week. We started out by Kate and I plotting the points that Scarlett and Sophie thought the rampart started, by going along the east to west baseline, and seeing how long along the line it was, and also how long along a separate tape measure it was, this gave Kate and I an opportunity to plot the points, and join them up to give a drawing of what the rampart looked like in 2D. Also, Scarlett and Sophie had a look at the parish boundary line and gave us points of how long along the north to south baseline some points were, Kate and I joined them up also to give us a diagram of what the boundary line looked like on a piece of paper. After the boundary line had been drawn, Kate and I swapped positions with Scarlett and Sophie, giving them an opportunity to draw, and for Kate and I the opportunity to look at the other rampart to see where it started climbing, by giving a few points, it allowed Sophie and Scarlett to draw the outer line of the rampart, where it started rising. By doing this, it gave us a chance to see what the south entrance of the hill fort looked like on paper.

Using a grid and measuring tapes to draw a scale plan of the hillfort rampart and ditch

Using a grid and measuring tapes to draw a scale plan of the hillfort rampart and ditch

Kate McCoubrey!!!ST BRIGID'S HIGH SCHOOL!

We woke up on this sunny morning with one burning question at mind – what would the day bring? We were missing our companion Sarah, who had prior commitments in the athletic world. Would we have to redo the gruelling walk, compass and ruler as our only vice? Alas! Jeffrey was to bear good news. NO MORE to the uncompleted survey in which we carried out, it was time for a new beginning. We arrived on location around ten o clock. We were ready for whatever the Beacon of Long mountain was to throw at us. We were archaeologists. We strode on, with ranging rod in one hand and bamboo stick in the other. The blazing sun was testing yet we had a job to do. We were set our mission. The task was to lay grids across the southern entrance using apparatus such as bamboo sticks, measuring tapes, ranging rods and our trusty level. In doing this we were gaining knowledge of the ground we worked upon. We immediately faced an obstacle however. The ground was not level, denying access to a straight and simple measurement. This lent way for improvisation. We had to ensure that the grid was on a straight line using our level, and so we had to hold the measuring tape on a horizontal line from point 0. This required holding the tape at different heights to ensure we could attain a reliable measurement each way. We first plotted our North/South baseline. The North ran 30m in, and the South 20m. Myself, Meical and Sophie took it upon ourselves to be the bearers of the ranging rod. As I delved into the forest, measuring tape in hand, I paced to the 30m point, being careful to ensure the straightness of the line did not fluctuate. Meical and Sophie then stood at 10m and 20m, and my companion Scarlett monitored our every move to ensure our measurements were the epitome of accuracy. We then carried out this same action towards the south, west and east direction, avoiding any snags and working together as a team. We alternated positions within the task to ensure that everyone had opportunity to do everything. We then had the task of drawing out our findings with the aid of our 6H pencil and drawing board. I find this particularly challenging due to lack of mathematical genius yet I feel I compensated in the practical side of the job. The importance of this task was to know our ground and be able to pin point specific areas of land in the case of discovering an archaeological find.

Working hard...measuring the ditch!

Working hard...measuring the ditch!

Thursday 11th July

Sarah Williams - Welshpool High School

We arrived in the meeting room at 9.30 where we waited for everyone to check in before going back up to Beacon Ring. Once we got there I was told what had been done the day before and shown the boards that had been carefully drawn on, we got straight to work as we started plotting ranging rods in several parts of the ground, at the top of the rampart, down the two steep sides, and at the bottom of the ditch. We then measured the space in-between each rod using a measuring tape and recorded the distances to the drawers who then plotted the points down by using the north-south line as an axis. After several hours we went back for a break, leaving the equipment behind, as we would be returning shortly after. After a refreshing dinner we were back at the hill fort and carried on with our measurements. The weather was roasting so everyone was getting tired and no one questioned to have a break in the shade. At last we had a fully labelled and drawn diagram on the one side of the rampart, unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to do the other but doing one in detail was pretty cool as it gave me an understanding of the skills needed to become an archaeologist. Before leaving we were introduced to hachures, at first they seemed pretty confusing but after a good illustration they weren’t that bad at all! We drew some hachures on the diagram to show the steepness of the slopes and to give the diagram a 3D effect.

The fruits of our labours, a plan of part of the hillfort

The fruits of our labours, a plan of part of the hillfort

Sophie Cooledge

For Thursday we spent the day using our base line in order to finish drawing the fort on our boards. We were rejoined by Jenny, who instructed us along with Jeff on how best to take our mesurements and create right-angle triangles on the base line using the tape measures and ranging rods. We assembled into two teams, one team drawing and one measuring, swapping occasionally and improving (or confusing in my case) each others technical drawings of the fort, until the southern ramparts began to appear. After we had managed to draw the edges of the ramparts and a parish boundary bank running through the middle, we began adding the all important hachures, which were difficult to grasp at the beginning but we all soon adjusted and soon had a map of the southen entrance.

It's not all fieldwork!

Writing the account of the week

Friday 12th July

Scarlett Banfield

The day started with us playing games on my phone and laughing as if we’d known each other for much longer than we had. We finished off our diaries and reviewed our week. We were tired, bitten and sunburnt but extremely happy. Our week was memorable and exciting and very insightful into what an archaeologist does. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we didn’t realise how much hard work was involved. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and I’m sure that we will remain friends as we all share a passion for history. I have enjoyed every second of this week and I learnt so much along the way. THANKYOU!

Meical Jones - Welshpool High School

Friday was the final day of work experience at CPAT, and the week has been a great one. I have made new friends and have had lots of good experiences with them. We started the morning by playing a bonding game on Scarlett’s phone, which was great fun, while we were waiting for Jeff to set up the work for the day. By doing work experience at CPAT it has given me great insight of what kind of work you have to do to be an archaeologist, it isn’t all about discovering lost artefacts, there is a lot of hard work to be put in. We also spent Friday completing our diaries and creating a web page. Thank you CPAT for a great week!

*** Week 2 ***

Monday 15th July

Huw Williams - Welshpool High School

On day one, I arrived at 9:30 to the CPAT offices. Where we met Jeff and he told us about what we would be getting up to using a handy PowerPoint presentation and then another describing the different areas of CPAT’s work. In the afternoon we went on an adventure in the “Time Travelling” Vauxhall to:

  • Montgomery Castle
  • Offa’s Dyke, in Forden
  • Some Bronze Age barrows next to the Beacon Ring hill fort.
At all these places Jeff gave us some background information on the place and the surrounding area.

The group at the Bronze Age barrows on Long Mountain The group at the Bronze Age barrows on Long Mountain

Laura Mitchell - Llanfyllin High School

Firstly, we were introduced to Jeff Spencer who welcomed us to CPAT. He asked us to say a little about ourselves including our past experiences of archaeology. Then he gave us a health and safety briefing on requirements we needed to follow during the week. He outlined the work of CPAT – past and present. We also learnt about different types of archaeology. Then we had a guided tour of the offices and met some of the other staff who explained their roles in the organisation.

During the second presentation, we were able to learn about the sites we would be visiting, particularly the Beacon Ring Hillfort and details such as the general history of the site and its layout, e.g. entrances and the tree planting there to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation.

After lunch we had a field trip to Montgomery Castle, Offa’s Dyke at Forden – which is a defensive earthwork thought to have been commanded by King Offa, and finally the Long Mountain Barrows, which are burial barrows, there are not thought to be any bodies there now because we discovered signs of looting at sometime in the past.

Kieran and Huw doing some investigating of the Beacon Ring rampart

Kieran and Huw doing some investigating of the Beacon Ring rampart with handheld GPS

Tuesday 16th July

Kieran Austin - Welshpool High School

In the morning we went up to the Beacon Ring hill fort. When we got there we had a site tour and learnt about the history of the area. This included the Bronze Age barrow in the centre of the fort and the later medieval parish boundary. After this we did a GPS survey of the top of the ramparts, using a handheld GPS to find the co-ordinates of the top of the rampart, which we later viewed in a GIS (geographical information system). We also completed a compass survey to allow us to draw a scale drawing of the large southern entrance including the ramparts and the defence ditches.

Dr Alice Forward, from the National Museum

Dr Alice Forward, from the National Museum tells the group about her work at the site where we think the Mold gold cape was discovered

Wednesday 17th July

Kieran Austin - Welshpool High School

On Wednesday we took a trip to the site of the National Eisteddfod in Denbigh. On the way we picked up Dr Alice Forward, from the National Museum. On the way to Denbigh we stopped at Mold where Alice gave us a talk about the site were the gold cape was found, the cape is made out of beaten and worked gold and the only one of its kind in the world.

Once we got to Denbigh we joined other groups of young people from local schools to dig pits, which were going to be used during the Eisteddfod to display a historic timeline which was to be filled with artifacts to educate visitors about the different stages in prehistory. We also did a geophysical survey of the area to collect information about the buried archaeology in the area.

Huw Williams - Welshpool High School

Unfortunately we only found one piece of pottery during our excavation work. But another group found a piece of flint that had been worked to form a crude knife. We think it dates to the Neolithic [late stone age period].

Excavating at the Eisteddfod Maes

Excavating test pits on the Eisteddfod Maes

Thursday 18th July

Laura Mitchell - Llanfyllin High School

We went on a tour around Welshpool and studied the architecture of the buildings including the Town Hall and the Church. In the Churchyard there was a memorial to the First World War, designed by a man who also designed Buckingham Palace. In the Churchyard there were also tombstones dating back to the 17th Century. On our tour we also saw the original fire station where the horses had to be fetched from nearby fields so often the fire was out of control before the firemen got there. Back at the CPAT office Paul Wood visited CPAT, he had discovered some Roman coins (1 of which was found on the surface) and a small brooch (found on the surface too) using a metal detector. He discussed the finds and told us information such as what age they were. We were shown how to photograph and record the finds including measuring and weighing them. This was my favourite part of the whole work experience week!

Huw learning about geophysics with John Burman

Huw learning about geophysics with John Burman

Huw Williams - Welshpool High School

Jeff took us on a guided tour of welshpool on Thursday, and we learned about the previous incarnations of the town hall and where to find the oldest gravestone in the church graveyard. Jeff pointed out the old fire station and explained how the horses would have had to have been brought down the hill to the station and hitched to the fire carriage. He then told us how the medieval town would have been laid out, and that the distance between Broad Street and Brook Street would have been divided into long thin plots with a shop front on Broad Street and access to workshops from Brook Street. Then a man named Paul Wood came to show Jeff some Roman artefacts he had found in his field, which we had the opportunity to record using data sheets, we had to talk with Paul to find out exactly where he had found the items. We also had to weigh and measure the items using a electronic scale and callipers. In the afternoon we went back to the hill fort to conduct an off-setting survey; we laid out a baseline and measure out at 90° the distance to points on the earth works and drew them on to another piece of perma-trace to illustrate the shape and size of the afore-mentioned earthworks.

Silver denarius

A silver denarius of Vitellius

Friday 19th July

Laura Mitchell - Llanfyllin High School

On Friday we wrote our individual diaries for the whole week which will be added to the CPAT website and we also learnt about the artefacts I was given from a former archaeologist, the collection includes a Roman Coin, Roman Marbles and Pottery.

Information gathered, prepared and presented by Kieran Austin, Scarlett Banfield, Sophie Cooledge, Meical Jones, Laura Mitchell, Kate McCoubrey, Sarah Williams, Huw Williams and Jeff Spencer, August 2013. Thanks to John Burman, Jenny Britnell, Sophie Watson and Paul Wood.

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