An Introduction to Recording Waterlogged Wood. Wednesday 16 August 2017

This course is a one-day introduction for archaeologists who require a working knowledge of waterlogged wood, of what needs to be done with it when found and the information potential which the material holds. This day school will provide participants with the underpinning knowledge towards NOS Unit CCSCV10 “Identify and Describe Items of Cultural Interest”, as relevant to archaeological timbers and wooden artefacts. It will also be relevant to aspects of NOS CCSCH55 “Handle, Pack and Transport Cultural Heritage Items and Objects” (K2-K5) and CCSCH65 “Maintain Conservation Records for Cultural heritage” (K1. 2, 4, 5).

Waterlogged wood and timber are found more often on archaeological sites than is commonly realised. There are however few specialists in the field and opportunities for training are very limited. Knowledge of the significance of the material and how to cope with it is often therefore not imparted to those who might encounter the material in a timely fashion and important data can be inadvertently lost. The aim of the course is to equip participants with the knowledge needed to recognise the significance of a wood or timber assemblage, to familiarise them with the methods used to recover or sample and pack the material safely, to record the material and to demonstrate how the data gathered can be used to inform the interpretation of the site in its context. During the course, participants will be encouraged to discuss their own experiences and expectations as a peer group.

This will be measured by successful completion of the practical elements in the course during which participants will apply the knowledge gained to record a sample piece of timber.

The learning outcome is to contribute to the CPD of the participants by providing the underpinning knowledge require the knowledge and understanding module of NOS CCSCV10. Participants will learn how to manage the material on site (K1, K5, K9), how to sample where needed and how to package it safely for transport and storage (K10). They will learn how to clean, record and describe the material both verbally and graphically (K2/11, K8, K13, K15, K18, K19). They will learn the requirements of other specialists (species identification, 14C sampling, dendrochronological sampling, conservation), how their needs can be accommodated (K4, K6,) and when to ask for advice and or support (K12). They will have an understanding of the rationale behind sampling, retention and disposal policies and of how and where to deploy resources in the most efficient and cost effective way. Finally they will have learned how all these disparate threads can be brought together (K3, K14, K16, K17) to better understand the significance of the site for the archaeological community and to use this to enhance the value of the project to the client and the general public (K7). The course tutor is happy to provide ongoing advice and support to participants as and if required.

The Conservation Department of York Archaeological Trust has been working on wood recovered from Archaeological Excavations for over 40 years. The course tutor has been involved in the recovery and study of waterlogged wood assemblages for over 25 years, has published several reports on major assemblages and was the author of a technical paper on the illustration of wooden artefacts. The course will take place at the 421 Huntington Road Premises of YAT. Some car parking is available on site, otherwise the Warehouse is on a major Bus Route. Take the No.5 bus towards Strensall from Station Avenue (just outside the Railway Station) and alight at Alexander Avenue (20 minutes. Buses every 15-20 Minutes). The warehouse is a 2 minute walk from the stop and a map will be provided for each participant.

There will be 10 places available. Tutor: Steve Allen (BA, MA, MCIfA). Fee: £100 per participant.

Tea and Coffee will be provided, participants should bring their own lunch. Sandwich outlets are available nearby.


09.30am Introduction and Housekeeping.

09.40 Archaeological Wood:

• Types of tree, hardwoods and softwoods. Macroscopic characteristics of each.
• Uses and properties of wood and timber. How did it enter the archaeological record.
• What conditions will preserve this material in the archaeological record.
• How can the material be managed on site.
• Recovery and temporary storage.
• Retention and disposal.

10.30 Break

10.45 Microscopic wood anatomy and wood species identification- Demonstration and limited practical.

12.00 Lunch Break

1.00 pm Recording wood and timber: Demonstration and practical.

• Roundwood assemblages. Sampling and labelling. Analysis.
• Natural features. Conversion, ring patterns, wood grain, knots and branches.
• Worked features and technology. Toolmarks, signatures, marking out, joints, fixings and fittings. Primary and secondary use, reworking and recycling.
• Damage- Ancient and Modern. Distinguishing old from new damage. Old repair work. A reason for disposal?
• Sampling for 14C and/or Dendrochronology. Supplying the most useful material for your specialist. Construction and modification dates.
• Temporary storage. Wrapping and packing for short term. Long term storage options?

3.00 Break

3.15 Assessing significance. What does this data mean? How does it inform the interpretation of the site. Why does the study of this material matter? Case studies.

4.00 Course disperses- Distribute Feedback form to participants and Certification as proof of course completion.

Please click here for a booking form.

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Miller Building, University of Reading
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AB

0118 378 6446
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