As Archaeologists we create vast amounts of ‘stuff’ :- record forms, site drawings, finds of all kinds, soil samples, environmental flots and residues, site note books, photographs, slides, research information, radiocarbon data, geophysics plots, laser survey data, finds drawings, interim reports, final reports, oral history tapes, x-rays and so it goes on!
These archives are all we have left of sites we have excavated or buildings that have been knocked down or redeveloped and if they are destroyed we have lost their stories for ever. Archaeological archives are a living thing, with researchers looking at them to help with wider studies. With new sites being discovered all the time and new techniques being developed what we first thought about our sites may change, so we need to be able to reconstruct what we have dug away and what we found at each level.
A lot of our work is making sure all the information and objects are first of all shared and then safeguarded. We have to think about conservation and ‘future proofing’ the objects, paper and photographic record. Storage of all these things is a big problem facing all museums and heritage organisations. Over the years studies and surveys have been done on what we should keep and what space museums have or need. We are now starting a big national project in the Trust to see where we are with all our archaeological archives, eek! it’s a big job but one I am very happy to be involved with. Hopefully there will be lots to report on the blog and not just from the south-west as I get chance to delve into other regions stores and boxes under the desk 🙂