Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Preserving the remains

If you've been past the site recently, you'll have seen that the engineers have filled in the area of the dig in preparation for the roadworks. Many people are surprised that the site is being filled in with concrete; in fact, although it may seem strange, it's the best way to protect the archaeology!
A special mix of low-density foam concrete is used, all of the archaeological structures and deposits are protected with impermeable sheeting and sensitive features are lined with protective foam boards. This is all to ensure that there's no damage caused by vibrations or compaction from the road surface and turning area above the site. When the area is redeveloped again in the future, the concrete can be easily removed to expose the archaeological remains beneath.
Our archaeologists record a fine cellar wall made from re-used stone and tile...

The walls are shielded with protective boards, then covered in sheeting before concrete is poured
There was lots of interest in the idea of a viewing area, leaving the remains exposed or visible beneath a glass panel. It's a great idea, and we're pleased that so many people have shown an interest. Although preserving exposed archaeological remains whilst ensuring they don't fall to pieces is costly and difficult, it is possible, and we always like to see imaginative ideas for presenting our city's history!
In this case, though, there was one major problem: the part of the site containing the walls, cellars and footings of old Lich Street will be underneath the road and turning area for buses/lorries. Without moving the road even closer to the cathedral (which would disturb more archaeological remains including part of the Cathedral cemetery), or bridging the area (which would raise the road surface and block the view of the cathedral), we can't avoid this. Sadly, it's just not safe or practical to have a viewing area or a void underneath the road itself.
However, everything has been safely preserved, and the dig has given us a fascinating glimpse into almost 2000 years of history in the heart of Worcester! It's not over yet, either: as the project continues, you'll see our archaeologists down there keeping a 'watching brief', recording and protecting any more archaeological remains exposed during the work.
If you didn't get a chance to come and see our exhibition at Tudor House Museum last week, some of the displays and photographs will be staying in the museum for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Exhibition at Tudor House Museum

If you're interested in seeing and handling some of the finds, we'll be at Tudor House Museum on Friar Street, Worcester this Thursday 23rd July and Saturday 25th July, 10:00 - 16:00, as part of the annual nationwide Festival of Archaeology. As well as the finds, we'll have pictures from the dig and a collection of historic photographs and paintings of the area from our archives. Our specialists will be on hand to answer your questions. All ages welcome!
Bone spoon, Tudor glass and 400-year-old Dutch 'majolica' pottery from the dig

Friday, 10 July 2015

Once the digging is done

Now that we've finished excavating the site, what happens to all the things we've found? Our Supported Internship student, Claire, has been helping us to clean, record and photograph the finds from the dig:
Claire with finds from the Lich Street Dig
Hello, my name is Claire Tippins. I've been on the work placement for four months, from the Heart of Worcestershire College as part of my two year Supported Internship program; I will be giving you an insight in what the Archive and Archaeology service do once they've finished digging the site (because archaeology's not all about digging!) .
Site paperwork: hundreds of records all have to be checked and cross-referenced
Once the digging on the site is complete, all the artefacts go through processing where they are carefully cleaned to remove dirt, soil etc. They are dried, then marked with codes that identify the areas where they were found.
Small fragments of a medieval bowl (left) and cooking pot (right), carefully marked with site and context codes

Finds from the dig in our processing room
Then they are weighed, recorded and further inspected to identify their date and purpose.
Senior Finds Archaeologist Laura Griffin identifies and records the artefacts

Our palynologist Dr Suzi Richer inspecting pollen from soil samples
After inspection they will either show some of the artefacts in public events or they are wrapped up, or placed in a plastic bag and placed in a box.
The finds store, where the artefacts are kept cool and dry before they are transferred to the musem
If the artefacts are metal they are placed in a sealed plastic box with special (silica) gel that keeps them dry and helps prevent corrosion.
Another thing we do is a lot of research in trade directories, business records, wills, census records, images, books etc. We do this to know who was living there and what their occupation was, and we do come across some interesting information.
View of north side of Lich Street during demolition, looking east towards the junction with Friar Street

I enjoy all the work I do here, it's different every day and the staff are incredibly friendly and relaxed. They enjoy my company, I love working here!

...We didn't bribe her to say that, honest!