A Fabulous Open Day

The rainy misery continues here in Lyminge, with yet another day rained off after some excellent speedy progress in the brief sunny respite yesterday morning. Our last week digging in Lyminge is looking to be one of the wettest and worst we’ve ever had here! I thought I’d cheers us all up (it’s not just raining in Lyminge, is it?!) and do an Open Day blog post.

Blue skies and glorious sunshine for our 2015 Open Day - our visitors get stuck in to looking at finds and the children's Little Dig proves popular!

Blue skies and glorious sunshine for our 2015 Open Day – our visitors get stuck in to looking at finds (centre and right) and the children’s Little Dig (left) proves popular!

The 'Little Dig' that we borrow from Canterbury Archaeological Trust every year in action - always popular!

The ‘Little Dig’ that we borrow from Canterbury Archaeological Trust every year in action – always popular!

What fantastic weather we had for it! We really got lucky there, and it meant that around 200 people turned out for a wonderful day of site tours, finds on display, Saxon re-enactments and a whole heap of children’s activities.

Kids could have a go searching for Roman finds in a specially set up excavation, comparing their finds to a reference collection of real Roman objects (on the table behind the ‘trench’).

Who exactly is on display here?

Who exactly is on display here?

Gabor gets to grips with his inner Saxon

Gabor gets to grips with his inner Saxon

As per usual our Saxon re-enactors from Centingas proved extremely popular with the public – and our esteemed director! One of the re-enactors has had almost the entire Sutton Hoo treasure recreated. He must have been terribly hot, but looked fantastic, so much so that Gabor was keen to try out the iconic helmet and the amazing pattern-welded sword.

Gabor took 3 separate site tours over the day, all of which were well attended with both new visitors and those who have been following our progress over the years. Digging also carried on, getting down to those lower layers of the blob. If it wasn’t for the rain, we’d likely be on to recording, drawing and photographing the fully excavated slot by now.

Digging progresses despite a busy open day

Digging progresses during the busy open day

As well as finds on display, our PhD student and environmental supervisor came down to help explain his side of the excavations. Here he is below explaining about the information we can gather from seeds, pollen, snails and other environmental indicators that he extracts from floatation and other kinds of sample analysis.

Simon explains environmental archaeology at the open day. You can see just some of the lovely glass we've excavated in the table in the foreground

Simon explains environmental archaeology at the open day. You can see just some of the lovely glass we’ve excavated in the table in the foreground

Members of Centingas gave craft demonstrations as well as recitations and talks about Saxon poetry in between the site tours, all terrifically well recieved.

Anna talks to our visitors about Saxon Poetry

Talksing to our visitors about Saxon Poetry

Their members really are extraordinarily knowledgable and we always learn lots from each other on the open days.

In fact, not only do we learn a lot from each other, we actually have project staff who are Centingas members too! Emily is one of our Finds Supervisors and she and her daughter Aleyna, the ‘project baby’ (also Gabor’s little one) manned the finds table all day, dressed in their alter egos as Saxon mother and child! Aleyna played her part perfectly enjoying gumming on a replica wooden spoon.

 

Emily and Aleyna enjoy being Saxons in the sunshine!

Emily and Aleyna enjoy being Saxons in the sunshine!

Tom fills out context sheets and Hannah excavates in the blob

Tom fills out context sheets and Hannah excavates in the blob

We managed to get down to the flint nodules in one area of the excavation, and we’re only one or two layers away from the flints in 2 m wide slot we opened this year. You can see from this photo on the right how busy it is in the trench when we’ve got the right weather!

All in all we were terrifically pleased with the Open Day, and we really want to thank all our visitors and supporters for coming along, and of course all the volunteers, students and re-enactors who made it such a splendidly successful day. We couldn’t run it without the invaluable support from volunteers and project partners like CAT, as well as our sponsors at the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Up on the Downs’ scheme.

Chatting to the past

Chatting to the past

At the moment, however, all that sunshine and jollity seems like a distant memory, as our rather unhappy campers (including me, your blog writer and assistant director!) try to stay dry after four days of almost solid rain. We’ve moved operations to our campsite marquee to try to at least get some finds washing done. After the tragic loss of our finds gazebo (we found it half-way across Tayne Field early one morning!) we have no shelter for finds washing on the dig site, and since digging is impossible in this weather, needs must!

Rain doesn't stop play! Finds washing continues in our campsite marquee to the tune of squeaking rafters as the wind whips up the sides of the tent

Rain doesn’t stop play! Finds washing continues in our campsite marquee to the tune of squeaking rafters as the wind whips up the sides of the tent.

I’ll try to do another blog post to wrap up the dig, and fingers crossed I’ll have a little more archaeology to show you! It’s looking like the weather will pick up here in the south-east, so we should be able to get the last bits of what we need to done in the few days we have left. Keep your eyes peeled for what may well be one of the last blog posts of the excavations!

Had to finish on sunshine!

Had to finish on sunshine!

 

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