On the Expedition
Did you ever wonder how the artefacts found during excavation make the journey from discovery to display? Now you have two ways to find out!
Option 1: Sampler Weekend of Archaeology
Dig into what goes on at an excavation site, learn about processing and classification of finds, and tour the Roman excavation site at South Shields.
The ‘Sampler Weekend of Archaeology’ is an opportunity for volunteers to be introduced to archaeological excavation. You will have a chance to work with the finds from previous excavations at the fort, and then get the chance to learn about their processing. You will be given expert instruction in how to use an archaeological trowel and in recording techniques. You will help trained staff record and excavate layers of Roman occupation from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and then process and catalogue finds that are made. You will have an opportunity to do indoor work with finds and archaeological records. And you will be given a tour and explanation of the Roman site at South Shields and its history.
Option 2: Archaeology Finds Weekend
The ‘Archaeological Finds Weekend’ is an opportunity for volunteers to have close contact with the finds from previous excavations at the fort and learn about their processing.
Finds will be divided into two types: ‘bulk finds’, the large quantities of broken pottery, animal bones and building material, and ‘small finds’, the less stable metalwork and other objects of interest which include coins, bronze box fittings, beads, architectural stonework and fragments of glass vessels.
According to type, finds will be prepared for study by specialists and for long-term, stable storage. This may involve the careful washing and marking of finds, which will be checked for items of particular interest revealed by the washing, such as worked bone or graffiti scratched on pottery, while the identification, dating and full details of some objects may need to be transferred to record sheets for entry into a database as the objects enter permanent storage in the museum.
Details for Both Options
Training for specific tasks and expert instruction will be provided in all techniques necessary to carry out the project. Earthwatch teams will be divided into groups of four or five individuals, and each group will rotate the many available tasks. The work will not be strenuous, but careful and with an eye for detail and precision.
On the second day, regardless of which team option you select, there will be the opportunity to visit the Great North Museum in Newcastle for a tour of the Roman Galleries. The Museum houses a large number of items excavated at Arbeia in the late nineteenth century, as well as an impressive collection of finds from numerous sites along Hadrian’s Wall.
Meals and Accommodations
Volunteers are expected to make their own arrangements for accommodation. South Shields is a seaside town, and as such has a variety of different accommodations to suit all tastes and budgets, from hotels and guesthouses to self catering holiday lettings, caravans and camping sites, close to the research site. All meals will be the responsibility of the volunteers, but you may choose to eat together as a group. The research site provides facilities for lunch preparation and tea breaks, while tea, coffee and soft drinks will be provided. South Shields offers a wide choice of places to eat out. Whether you are looking for a snack, a pub meal or a sit down five-course meal or traditional fish and chips. It should be noted that the Monday 30 May is Spring Bank Holiday, a public holiday in the UK, therefore local shops and stores may be subject to restricted opening times.
About the Research Area
The region of Tyne and Wear is well known for its award winning beaches, amazing coastline, its wildlife, and its tranquil beauty. South Shields is located south east of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and is situated within the Tyneside conurbation, a famous former industrial area. The residential area where you’ll work is in a coastal holiday resort, with many parks and good beaches nearby. Much of the coastal area remains open and unspoiled, and the research site and accommodations lie in a quiet, residential area close to the North Sea and the mouth of the River Tyne.