Luke drawing plans and sections of a prehistoric hearth feature.
“The other volunteers there were very friendly, some from around the world, and that made me think how amazing it is that this one subject brings people together from so many different places and backgrounds.”
HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY have interested me from a very young age, starting from when I asked my grandfather to buy me a history book. Back then I was only interested in the pictures, looking at how people dressed and the weapons which they used. I was never really into playing gun games with my friends but rather sword-fighting with sticks and using pieces of cardboard for a shield. It wasn’t before long that I realised that cardboard wasn’t the best material for a shield – bruised arms!
As time went on I began to read what was beside the pictures and I learnt so much about the world’s history. That inspired me to learn more. My grandfather had a lot of friends who happened to be archaeologists, and so through that I got to experience true history right there in my hand, and not just an image in my head. Growing into my early teens I had visited a lot of historical places and sites around the world and, out of all the locations, I found Malta the most interesting. Perhaps it was my fascination with knights and the crusades or maybe it’s the beautiful renaissance architecture in the capital, Valetta. Through travelling with my parents, I began to experience different cultures – so different from my own – and the languages we encountered.
There’s no brass in muck
During my late teenage years I set myself on a goal to study archaeology at university. However, my grades from school were below average and I needed to do something about that. When my teenage years came to an end I found myself with a CV full of pointless subjects but I discovered that I could enrol into an Over 19s Access Course, and that I did. I came out of that course with distinctions in History, Psychology, Politics and Sociology. Did I go straight into university to study archaeology? No I didn’t. I went to Law School instead, with ambitions of becoming very financially successful. I hated every second of it. Whenever I was there in that lecture theatre, I was constantly thinking about archaeology and enjoying myself with like-minded people. I learnt a valuable lesson there; I learnt that chasing wealth by any means does not make you happy, but doing something that you are passionate about will make you successful. This leads me to this present moment. I am finally attending Newcastle University to study Archaeology.
Skills for the record
With a place on the course, I knew I needed to gain some field experience. I contacted the BAJR Facebook page where I encountered a seemingly limitless number of people pointing me in the right direction. This is where I found out about the Eston Hills project. In no time I had purchased an Archaeology Skills Passport to document my learning, and volunteered to join the team. I had never been so enthusiastic about something in my life. I attended my first day wearing a pair of vans and jogging pants thinking it was such a bad idea – and it was! In the team meeting I was given a brief about what to look out for, and about health and safety. We then set off climbing up the Eston Hills, a workout and a half! On the way up I realised that I really needed a pair of walking boots. In a typical British summer, me feet were getting stuck in the delightful mud.
Throughout the project I made plenty of finds, which was incredibly exciting. The project leaders were very engaging and taught me archaeological techniques – from how to set up a test pit, to surveying with a total station. All these techniques would then be signed off in my Skills Passport. I actually found the passport very useful, especially if you were to go for a job interview in the future. The other volunteers there were very friendly, some from around the world, and that made me think how amazing it is that this one subject brings people together from so many different places and backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on this project and my initial expectations were certainly exceeded.
If you were an ICE AND FIRE 2017 volunteer and would like to submit a Dig Diary piece, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any pictures of your own or, if you appear in any of the pictures on this website, let us know! Thank you again for being part of a brilliant – and hopefully ongoing – ground-breaking rescue project.
– ICE AND FIRE Project Team