Monday, June 19, 2006

Sword in a suitcase

The things archaeologists do, or rather don't do, but should:

Bamburgh sword nearly ends up in skip
The importance of proper archiving procedures was illustrated by a story in the Daily Telegraph on 19 June, which reported that the seventh century pattern-welded Bamburgh Sword narrowly avoided being dumped in a skip by workers who were clearing the house of the late Brian Hope-Taylor.

The sword was rescued by former students who had gone to the house after hearing that Hope-Taylor’s books were being sold off. They found the sword in a suitcase that was about to be loaded into a skip. The sword was originally found in the first ever excavation at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, in 1960 and is now back there on display. Paul Gething, from the Bamburgh Research Project, said: ‘We had no idea it would be such an exceptional sword and the only one of its kind ever found. It is a dream come true.’

Currently can't find a photo of said sword. There's also an interesting photo of another old Bamburgh archive on the new project's website. Unfortunately, there are are few places like this. I've worked in a couple of such stores, having to almost 're-excavate' them myself to find anything. Archaeologists are drowning in data. I hasten to add, not all archaeological archives are like this by a long stretch.

Oh yeah - and I've finished my report! Hang out the flags, sing the national anthem, and jump up and down. I sent the electronic copy out yesterday evening, and followed it up today in the post with a print out and an invoice. Onto the next, much smaller report ... Then an article, then the book and then ... I'm free of my archaeological obligations. Judging by how long it took me to do that medium sized report, I should be out on parole by about, oh, 2026. In Britain, I think my time spent in archaeology is around 5 life sentences (since they let them out so quick these days) The only thing is, I still haven't worked out what I did wrong in the first place to deserve it.


At 4:53 pm BST, Blogger Martyn said...

Good grief. It makes you wonder just how much has been lost over the centuries. Congratulations on completing the report.

At 10:26 am BST, Blogger Carla said...

There's the famous example of the Victorian antiquary who dug up a Saxon burial mound at Snape in Suffolk. It contained an intact boat burial (extremely rare in Britain), as indicated by the survival of the iron rivets that had held the boat together. The antiquary was disappointed not to find any treasures and sent the rivets off to the local blacksmith to be melted down, hoping "that more important finds would be discovered in the remaining mounds." Aaaaaargh!

At 11:58 am BST, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Well, archaeologists don't quite do that these days. Oh no, they just leave stuff in tobacco tins (this was from a dig directed by a Cambridge University professor in the 1980s), suitcases (1960s) and the like ...

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