Fragments of an early 20th century bowl with a flower Patten
Yesterday I asked children on the project to see what they could find in their own gardens and to bring them into school this morning to see what they might have found. Much of it was what you might expect if you cultivate your own garden: pieces of Victorian teacup, broken plates and the odd fragment of plant pot.
However one child brought in a bag of bits and pieces which contained two large lumps of flint. This came as something of a surprise as there is no natural flint in West Yorkshire. They show no signs of working
Two pieces of flint found in a garden near the school.
but nevertheless are important finds. There is no natural flint in West Yorkshire so these pieces must have arrived here by human agency. The best guess might be that they came from the Yorkshire Wolds sometime in prehistory.
Today we also started gigging. Finds are coming up by the minute. Tell you about them later…
Finds work at Cobden
Today I started work on a short archaeology project at Cobden Primary in Leeds (West Yorkshire, UK). It’s a school that I’ve worked with on several previous occasions offering presentations on dinosaurs, prehistory and archaeology in general. This week it’s time for the real thing: we’ll be carrying out a small scale excavation in the school grounds on Wednesday and Thursday.
Today has been spent in preparation for this. I’ve spoken to the children about how archaeology works and we’ve looked at the type of object that we might expect to find. Tomorrow we’ll be starting the field work. Let’s hope there’s a lot to find…
Clay tobacco pipe bearing the initials LD
Last year when I was working at Hanging Heaton some children brought in a clay tobacco pipe to show me. The bowl was decorated with swags and bore the initials
LD. When we worked on a small excavation in the school grounds several more pieces of similar clay tobacco pipe were recovered. They too had the same pattern of swags and the initials LD.
I have been unable to trace who LD might have been. Can anybody help me with this?
Children at work
It was November last year when I worked with two classes from East Morton Primary School (West Yorkshire, UK) on a small archaeological project in the grounds of their school. It was hardly the weather for outdoor work and I was very impressed with the children’s willingness to stay outdoors despite the cold weather.
I have now completed the formal archaeological report on the work which we carried out there. To download a copy click on the link below.
East Morton Site Report v 1
A Year 3 pupil’s drawing of a piece of early 19th century pottery
Last week I did one of my archaeology sessions in a school in Bradford (West Yorkshire, UK). They are designed to follow the process of archaeology through from beginning to end. I start by talking about how archaeology works, do a simulated excavation with the children, talk about dead bodies, and wind up with the children using some of my artefacts as a basis for observational drawing. I always try to make the point that archaeology is not just about digging it’s also about sharing the knowledge that you’ve gained during your excavations. Therefore we always write a report with lots of photographs and lots of plans and drawings. The trouble for me is that I can’t draw for toffee: I always have to get someone else to do it for me. For that reason it always amazes me to see the quality of the art that some of these children produce. Perhaps in a few years I’ll be having one of them working on drawings for one of my site reports…
Full details of my sessions for schools and how to book can be found by clicking on Archaeology for Schools.
Birkenshaw: A view of the site showing the yellow subsoil at the bottom of the trench
Last November I blogged about a small archaeological project which I co-ordinated at Birkenshaw C. E. (C) Primary School (West Yorkshire, UK). The final site report is now available for those of you that would like the full details. To read it, please click on the link below.
Birkenshaw Site Report v 1
I’ve spent part of the last weekend looking more closely at the finds from the excavations in the grounds of Hanging Heaton Primary School. Most were what you’d expect – 19th and 20th century pottery, clay pipe stems, a few modern coins and marbles and so on.
Fragments of a leaf-patterned jar
However, a few pieces of pottery started me thinking. One is a small piece of rim which comes from a Willow Pattern plate. The other fragments come from a jar with a blue leaf pattern on a white background which is reminiscent of some styles of Chinese porcelain.
A fragment of Willow Pattern plate
Both seem to demonstrate the influence of oriental design on western art or perhaps I should say the European capacity for producing oriental-looking fakes. . The Willow Pattern story was invented in the 1780s to promote the sale of a new ‘oriental’ design from the Minton factory in Staffordshire (UK). The design on the other vessel may have been inspired by Chinese porcelain designs but whatever its fabric may be, it’s certainly not porcelain.
It’s all Georgian and Victorian kitsch really. Not that we’re any different. When, for example, was the last time you managed to get through a gift shop without your eyes being assailed by dozens of mass-produced pottery Buddhas? And then there are all these oriental dragon designs. Perhaps it only goes to demonstrate a continuing European fascination for Chinese style and design.