Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An Archaeology Outing

One of the classes I'm taking here is entitled Archaeology in the Modern World. I'm taking this because I have always been interested in Archaeology and it is the closest I could get to a class for my major (Anthropology). Anyway, part of the class included a day of field work. Now from that description I was super excited. I thought we were going to go to a dig or a site that had been recently excavated and see what it was like. This was not the case. At all. Instead what this entailed was going to four different sites of archaeological significance (a cathedral, a castle, a broch, and a Roman fort) and taking notes on how they were displayed to the public. There were two different groups that traveled the sites in opposite directions. My group happened to be the one going backwards in also happened to be FREEZING.

The first stop was Dunblane Cathedral. From the second we got off the bus I was thinking about my mom. I know this sounds strange but my mom LOVES churches. It has gotten to the point that every time we pass a church (usually on road trips) we yell out "Look mom a church!" I mean she really loves castles too but since we don't have them in the states a game was never developed for them. Anyway, the cathedral was beautiful. It was a mix of Norman and Gothic architecture which I found very interesting. The woodwork was also extremely impressive. The cathedral is lined with cloisters on either side that show some signs of weathering since it was without a roof for quite a period of time. What we were supposed to learn from this site is how to achieve a mix of historical site and working building since the cathedral does hold regular services. We were in the cathedral for about 30 minutes then it was off to the next site, Doune Castle.

Doune Castle is a very pretty little castle, however the weather was starting to decline rapidly (so there will be fewer pictures as we go along). The castle was built for the Regent Albany and he used it during his campaign for the crown, saying that he already had the castle so he should be king. The castle's most famous feature is the gatehouse tower which holds the Lord's hall and some beautiful views from the top. If you manage to make it up the terrifying steps. We were told to notice a few steps and label the rooms on a floor plan we were given for a graded online worksheet we were to complete later. We were also told some interesting facts about the castle. For instance, they are not entirely sure if the castle is unfinished or meant to look the way it does. The castle has also been featured in a couple of movies including Ivanhoe and the French Guard scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In fact, the gift shop sold coconut shells until recently. After a cold visit here we were off to an even worse weather location...

After a short break in Sterling for some food and the facilities my group was off to Tappock Broch. This location is somewhat hidden from the public. There aren't any clear signs pointing to the broch and there is no information about the structure once you get to it. The group arranged themselves on top of the walls while one of our lecturers positioned himself in the middle to talk to us about it. We found out that there is very little known about the broch. It was only excavated once in the late 1800s and record keeping was not what it is today. For those of you who don't know what a broch is, its basically a round tower used to either store things or as sort of a central meeting/gathering location for a population. We were given some time to look around the broch but by this point we were all freezing since it was snowing, raining, and hailing. We were also right out in the open without any cover what so ever. All we wanted to do was get back in the warm coach.

Our final stop was Bar Hill. This site is on a farmer's property up a pretty substantial hill. The climb warmed me up nicely but the effort was not really worth the site. It was very underwhelming. The site included cement in the shape of where the foundation of the main building and the bath house would be with small signs dictating what the rooms were (they were not always helpful). We were told that this is very representative of the 1960s style of presenting sites. I did enjoy seeing s glimpse of the Antonine Wall but other than that I was just ready to go back to the University. I had lost feeling in my extremities and we were all pretty miserable since the rain was relentless. We looked around for a little bit and everyone was pretty quiet when attempting to discuss the site so we were finally off to the bus to head back.

The Antonine Wall (what I was most interested in)
Overall it was probably one of the worst field trips I've been on. It took me several hours to get full range of movement back to my hands. I went straight back to my flat, put on my pjs, made some tea, and curled up in bed. It was interesting comparing the way sites are displayed and I'm sure if the weather had been tolerable I would have really enjoyed it. It kind of sucks that the success of the trip was dictated by forces beyond our control but that happens. I just wish I were here for the archaeology courses offered to second years. That's when the learn to dig up stuff and go to a field school over the summer. So lucky.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure that you will have a report that will tell us that you did learn something or you met someone new. Love you, I miss you, want you to come home, but, I want you to have a great time over there so I will hide my wants and wish you well. Good report.