And what a day it was! Some excellent speakers, wonderful excavations, intriguing theories…it had everything. Well, everything an archaeologist could want without getting into a hole with a trowel and finding something amazing.
I guess the highlight today was Richard Buckley. He was the guy in charge of the dig where they found Richard III.
He was given five tasks before the dig:
- Find the Greyfriars friary
- Work out what it is when he does
- Locate the church inside the friary
- Locate the east end of the church
- Locate the skeleton of Richard III
He was okay down to number four, with each one becoming more and more improbable. Number five, he said, was never going to happen. In fact, he said, if he did find Richard III, he’d eat his hat. When asked, during questions, how the hat tasted, he said one of his supervisors made a batch of hat shaped cakes, and they tasted very good indeed.
His talk was fabulous; both factual and funny. It was also miraculous. Definitely a coup for the conference.
We also had a session titled A Tale of Two Cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum which was terrific. It started with Paul Roberts of the British Museum telling us about the upcoming exhibition about them both and how he gathered together the pieces and moved them to the museum. He was very excited.
But, moving backwards…The first session of the day featured mostly Saxon stuff. Even so, it was still interesting. One dig with no historical but plenty of physical, another with plenty of historical, helping to find the physical and, finally, Neil Faulkner with an amazingly electric piece about how to find out the bigger things by putting lots of little things together first.
After Pompeii & Herculaneum came Richard III, a conservator talking about the Staffordshire hoard and how difficult it is to work on and Heather Knight of the Museum of London who gave a lovely talk about the discovery of the Curtain Playhouse in Shoreditch.
The day finished with a piece about Operation Nightingale which, in a not very good nutshell, is a very successful scheme to get battle scarred (physically and mentally) soldiers back on track by giving them archaeology to do. It was actually quite inspiring. And such a good idea. The MoD has a large number of archaeological sites in their care so who better?
Anyway, the whole day was superb and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now for tomorrow, which looks like it might just trump both the previous days…