Rendlesham behind the scenes: starting the second year of post-excavation processing

artefacts on tray

Featured image: Animal bone and oyster shell washed and drying after being excavated. (Photo by Graham Allen)

Following the second season of excavations at Rendlesham in summer 2022, our volunteers have started the post-excavation work on the excavated material at the Cotswold Archaeology warehouse in Needham Market, as part of our community archaeology project Rendlesham Revealed. The post-excavation process involves several different tasks, which our volunteers have been undertaking since October. This week, volunteers Sophie, Holly and Woody tell us more about their experience and what they have enjoyed.

Woman writing labels and sorting objects
Sophie sorting the objects into types and labelling

The post-excavation work for Rendlesham has been thoroughly enjoyable. Being given the opportunity to take part in real-life archaeology is an experience which I feel lucky to have had. This year, I’ve taken part in washing, marking finds and processing environmental samples. Seeing how the finds are handled once they are off-site is really interesting. It makes you realise how it’s not all about the digging and finding exciting artefacts but learning about the site as a whole and how people lived there and used the site at the time. It is amazing to see how much information is derived from the smallest things – like a tiny grain or a snail shell.

– Sophie Deller (volunteer)

This was my fourth time taking part in post-excavation work at the warehouse. I think working with the Rendlesham finds off-site as well as on-site, has helped me gain a greater understanding of the importance of the Rendlesham Revealed project. From what things were being found, how well-preserved things were and the variety of items.

This year I have enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer in a proper work environment, which has helped me understand what goes on after all the digging has finished and how the finds are handled thereafter. These experiences are invaluable in helping me on my future career path as an archaeologist, with being able to use these skills in the future and gaining real-life work experience. Being given responsibilities has helped boost my confidence with handling the finds and I’d really like to try documenting small finds one day too.

The staff at Cotswold archaeology are amazing, they are always very supportive and helpful when it comes to asking questions. They have helped me advance my skills in many of the post-ex tasks. The volunteers at the warehouse have also been supportive and I have learnt a lot of interesting things from them. I hope to be able to try out as many tasks a possible in my time there.

– Holly Wheeler (age 14)

I have really enjoyed volunteering with the Rendlesham post excavation work. All the staff are very professional and are always there to help. Over the last year, I have improved my skills in marking objects and processing soil samples, and the other volunteers have also supported me along the way. Doing this post excavation work has given me a feel of what it is like to work in a real work environment, and it will be very beneficial in later life.

One of my favourite tasks is picking environmental samples. I really enjoy this because it involves a lot of focus and concentration. I also had a go at marking objects this time – now that my handwriting has improved!

I was very sad that I couldn’t go to the actual Rendlesham dig because it would have been better to see where the soil samples had come from and given me a better understanding of the site. 

– Woody Wheeler (age 12)

Find out more

What is involved in post-excavation? Read last year’s blogs to learn more about it

Discover more about the Rendlesham Revealed project

Explore last year’s community fieldwork discoveries

Learn about the previous archaeological investigations since 2008

This fieldwork is part of the community archaeology project Rendlesham Revealed: Anglo-Saxon Life in South-East Suffolk, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We are very grateful to our many local and national partners who have made this project possible, and for the support of our volunteers and of the landowners and farmers who work and manage this historic landscape.

If you want to get involved with the Rendlesham Revealed project and future fieldwork, you can sign up to our e-newsletter for updates.

Heritage Fund Logo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: