So, we thought it was high time that you guys out there heard from the Volunteers of The London Shipwreck Project themselves. It would have been sooner had our social media girl not been a bit of a Slack Alice. (It’s OK the social media girl is writing this…. and now talking about herself in the 3rd person).
Let’s get to the volunteers shall we?
I am now, in theory, capable of some minimal conservation of waterlogged artefacts, and have some understanding of nautical archaeology. It has been a good couple of days. On the first day I met my fellow volunteers, and the Nautical Archaeology Society came along to teach us about, well, nautical archaeology. There were some bits I knew (different methods of dating objects etc.) some bits I was a bit less interested in (the ins and outs of legal ownership and licensing laws for shipwrecks) and some practice in surveying a site, an exercise that somehow managed to be enjoyable, despite essentially being maths and drawing, two skills which I seriously lack.
The second days training was more specific to The London Shipwreck, and to my role. The morning was dedicated to a bit of history about the shipwreck, and a little conservation theory, whereas the afternoon was practice for what I will actually be doing with the artefacts. I was actually holding waterlogged remains, and helping to conserve and store them. This was just a little scary – I did not want to be responsible for the disintegration of a medieval leather sandal. Fortunately all the artefacts survived my hands.
The plan of attack for artefacts is this: the archaeologists will bring objects to Southend pier, where they will be given to the curator, conservators and volunteers. Once on the pier they will be kept in the dark and cling filmed to keep them wet, and then bubble wrapped and boxed up to take them to the secure stores. Once there, they will be properly boxed, using clean water, bubble wrapped to exclude oxygen, boxes sealed and stored. Labelled, naturally, at every stage of the process. And that is the end of involvement, but hopefully not for too long.
Our next volunteer blog is from Rebecca
On the 10th of July I undertook a training day with Southend Museums in an introduction to Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology as part of my Volunteering on The London Shipwreck Project. The course was run by the Nautical Archaeology society and arriving at 8:30am I knew I was in for a long day. Firstly we had an introduction to marine archaeology and the different site types which was actually much more interesting than I thought it would be and after a brief biscuit and tea break we began learning about Archaeological Dating methods (The scientific type not how to hook up with archaeologists). I seemed to know all of them but just not the proper names such as Dendrochronology (my new favourite word) which is in simple terms determining the age of a tree, and what the environmental conditions were like each year based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings.
After another tea break we moved on to learning all about marine archaeology legislation, which although informative was just as exciting as it sounds. After lunch we began the practical sessions of carrying out dry 2D surveys and transforming them onto scale accurate graphs; while plotting out set points in the correct position. Although drawing is definitely not my strong point I managed to form something coherent to what we were supposed to achieve. After finishing at 5:30pm and coming away with a book full of light reading and training record filled in; I left excited, tired and wondering how I could possibly remember It all.
There you have it. The training and preparation of our Volunteers to take part in this exciting and unique project. Where can I see this project in action? I hear you think loudly to yourself. Well, we will be on Southend Pier on the 7th August from 10am-12pm, take a look at our poster for more information. Alternatively check out the links below for more information on The London and the project surrounding it.