Session 9 – Cemeteries

Last week we looked at cemeteries and how they fit into the idea of Urban Archaeology. We discussed the ways that cemeteries and graveyards had developed over time, beginning with burial grounds and ending with today’s municipal cemeteries. We used the example of St. Winifred’s Church in Branscombe to talk about how the development of a community and a church can be traced through time by looking at the locations of graves in a graveyard.

Gareth gave examples of different types of headstones that you might find in a graveyard or cemetery, and we talked about how different time periods can be identified from key features found on headstones and memorials.

We used printouts from the Council of Scottish Archaeology’s handbook for recording graveyards, and also worked through their recording and condition survey sheets for headstones. This handbook really is worth printing and taking with you if you plan to visit and record a graveyard or cemetery. It is free and available online (see the Powerpoint below for more information).

As an exercise, we all had a go at identifying periods of a selection of graves that we had removed the dates from.

This is the presentation that we gave:

Session 7 – Archaeologists and Objects

This week we looked at how archaeologists deal with objects. Archaeologist, Sarah Coxon visited us and ran a practical session on object analysis. Sarah’s blog that charts her own research is here:

Part One

I began the session talking about how the idea of objects and artefacts as ways to tell us about the past fitted into the idea of Urban Archaeology.

There is much more on the end of this powerpoint that we did not cover. I’ve added it on to the end as a useful reference point for you, should you wish to find out more about reading objects.

The presentation:

Part Two

Sarah also gave a short presentation on objects and the different aspects of society that they can tell us about.

During the second part of the session, Sarah covered different types of objects, such as ceramics, stone, and biological matter. We discussed the effects of time on objects, and looked at some fascinating examples of various degrees of decomposition of artefacts.

After the presentation we had a tour of the ceramics laboratory and the petrology laboratory. We then looked at some examples of worked flint and also ceramics, and as a group went through the process of recording of a sherd of ceramic, using an example of a recording sheet that Sarah had brought along with her.