I used to work in finance and before then I worked in retail, I have always enjoyed working with people from all walks of life. Whilst I loved helping people I didn't enjoy the work I was doing so decided that at the age of 25 to look into the possibility of going to university. I always said I would go since I had loved school but time went by and I started to think it was just a pipe dream...I was wrong!
My first step was to look into access to higher education courses. I had always loved history due to the fact I would sit and listen to my great grandmother tell me everything she knew about history (including her own!). She was so good at describing times and places to me that I felt like I was there seeing it first hand, she was an amazing woman who I wish could see me now doing something she would have loved to do herself!
My Great Gran :)
So taking that into consideration I thought about doing a degree in history, after more careful consideration, I came across archaeology as a possible degree. I looked into it thoroughly and thought since I'm a practical person, this may be the right choice for me...I wasn't wrong! I started a 9 month access college course in ancient history and archaeology at ManCat in Manchester. I started to apply to various universities, I was accepted to them all but chose The University of Manchester as it was an amazing uni for archaeology and was also very close to where I lived.
Whilst at college I met some fantastic friends, one of which is one of my best pals to this day (hey Gemma!). We all went to uni as mature students, probably nervous but at least we had each other amongst the "young ones". During the summer after first year we all went to various archaeological digs and when we came back for the second year, we were full of interesting stories to stay the least! We all mingled and I now consider some of the "young ones" to be some of my closest friends.
My second dig was what got me interested in community archaeology. I went on the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project http://www.soma.devisland.net/atp/Ardnamurchan_Transitions_Project/Home.html who have an outreach project with Archaeology Scotland. I got to excavate a Neolithic chambered cairn for 3 weeks which was absolutely amazing, however, the ethos of the dig was to let everyone get involved. It wasn't just an academic dig where students are only allowed to excavate certain areas. We were encouraged to be as hands on as possible, ask questions and come up with theories (no matter how far fetched they may be!). The interesting part of this excavation is that they are very keen on getting the local community involved, whether they are volunteering to work on site or visiting the sites to see what we were doing. The fact the local community felt like they were welcome was very appealing to me since I felt heritage should be shared with everyone who was interested.
I was asked to go back the year after as a supervisor, which I did and this was the year we found the Viking Boat Burial...very exciting times indeed!
The discovery of the boat burial drew a lot of attention to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula which gave greater scope to involve the local community and visitors to the area. This year I was asked back again as a supervisor and got to work with Cara Jones, a project officer for the Adopt-a-Monument project, Archaeology Scotland. I got to work first hand with the public who were all very interested in the work we were doing, particularly the Viking Boat burial! I think my favourite part of the day though was working with the young visitors by making clay pots with them...unfortunately mine broke in transit on the way back to Manchester!
Prior to going on this dig, the CBA announced 12 new community archaeology training placements. I applied for three of the posts including with the host organisation Archaeology Scotland. Whilst at Ardnamurchan I discovered I had been short listed for an interview with Archaeology Scotland which was taking place in their office less than a week after I was to get back home from the dig. I was nervous and excited at the same time as this was something I really enjoyed! The interview process involved a short presentation by me on why community archaeology is important followed by the traditional interview type questions. A few days later I was offered the post and to say I was excited was an understatement!
The reason I am going to do this blog is so that you can keep up with my adventures up here in Scotland. I hope that by writing about this you all get to see why community archaeology is so important, it's not just about digging, it's so much more than that. I will be telling you about the amazing outreach programmes that Archaeology Scotland and specifically Adopt-a-Monument are involved in. My role will be focussed specifically on developing youth engagement which I am greatly looking forward to. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CBA and the Heritage Lottery Fund for my bursary so that I can learn and work with an amazing team at Archaeology Scotland!