Reflections on the 2019 dig

The end of another excavation at Aldborough. It’s always a strange time. After spending weeks closely working with a big group of people, everyone disperses. The minutiae of trench, known in such good detail, buried once more. This has been a very happy dig. The archaeology has been a treat, both answering some questions whilst asking so many more. But perhaps the thing that has most defined it for us were the people.

This year we were joined by 25 dedicated and wonderful volunteers, who worked closely with us in the trench and the finds tent. It is always so interesting hearing how people have come to be interested in archaeology, and the aspects of the dig they find most inspiring. There is a pooling of knowledge and skills on site, and conversations wandered from archaeology, to art, osteology, travel, flying, mudlarking, cookery….. For us, it reinvigorates the task in hand; archaeology is about people, both in the past and the present. And it is about forming community – a shared sense of purpose and discovery.

We also welcomed local primary schools to the site this year. At the excavation, pupils could see what we were doing before sieving for finds, and washing what they found. Site became animated with enthusiastic hoots of “I’ve found a tooth – a TOOTH!” and “look at my pottery!”. The children then visited the English Heritage museum, where the Friends of Roman Aldborough organised other activities. Many of the kids brought their parents to the Open Day to see the dig for themselves.

The Open Day was a success despite the morning rain. We welcomed 160 visitors on hourly tours between 11 – 3 o’clock. They were given an introduction to the site, a tour of the trench, and were shown some of the key finds from the dig.

For the first time this year we ran a weekly podcast SOUNDING ALDBOROUGH (see the ‘podcasts’ page). We had listeners tuning in from all round the world, following the progress of the dig, and interviews with specialists and volunteers on site. Do have a listen if you haven’t had chance yet!

SOUNDMARKS, Rose and Rob’s new Arts Council funded art project at the site launched during the excavations. Sound and visual art will be used to explore the sub-surface landscape at Aldborough. The collaboration will result in an exhibition, sound installation, book publication, interactive sound map, short film, and public workshops in mid/late 2019. Keep up to date with events and follow the blogat

So what now? Well, we hope to be back in 2020! In the meantime, we have an office full of finds waiting to go to specialists, data to sort and reports to write. And we’ll keep remembering that blissful 5 weeks in a Yorkshire meadow.


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