In this guest blog post Sally Taylor describes her experience working with the Archaeology team from the Museum of Liverpool on a recent excavation:
"For a non-professional archaeologist it can be difficult to find excavations without paying vast sums of money to join training digs. As a mature student with three years studying archaeology under my belt, I was hungry for experience in the field.
Enter Lunt Meadows.
Run by the Museum of Liverpool, Lunt Meadows is a place where nomadic stone-age people built and lived in some of the first houses in Britain, around 8,000 years ago. These people were at one with their surroundings and lived off the land – they knew nothing of farmed crops, pastured animals, pottery, woven cloth or metal. Yet they thrived for thousands of years after the end of the last ice age. We call them Mesolithic (middle stone age) but we don’t know what they called themselves.
At Lunt Meadows they left behind traces of three houses, pits, scatters of stone tools and debris, burnt hazelnut shells, preserved reeds and carefully arranged groupings of pebbles, including iron pyrites or fool’s gold.
I have been able to join this very special archaeological dig, learn fantastic practical skills and grow in confidence about my future prospects as a professional archaeologist. I have been out to the site in all weathers and coped with all types of challenges – from pumping water out of the trenches before digging (once after cracking the ice on top) to dealing with ‘archaeologist’s burn’ a tell-tale strip of sunburn at the base of your back from bending over. I have learned how to trowel a sandy surface without leaving (too many) bits behind, how to recognise when a tiny stone tool has been uncovered (by touch through the trowel, well before you see anything), how to make sure everything is properly recorded and preserved – and even how to set up and use survey equipment (previously a real source of fear).
And I have done all this in great company
This summer, as part of the Festival of Archaeology, I recorded a day at Lunt Meadows for the annual Day of Archaeology and the result made it onto their homepage as a featured contribution. Take a look at my blog 8,000 year old hazelnuts in a prehistoric landscape on the Day of Archaeology website.
For all the past and future days of fun and wonder at Lunt – thanks to the Museum of Liverpool, the Heritage Lottery Fund and most of all to Ron Cowell, site director and mentor extraordinaire."