Monday, 13 January 2014

My archaeology placement year at Leeds Museums and Galleries

As part of my course at Bradford University, where I am studying for a BA in Archaeology, I had the option for my third year of undertaking a placement year.
During the first two years of my course I had discovered that museum work could be an avenue under the umbrella of archaeology that I may wish to pursue. I was therefore very interested to be part of a museum environment for my placement, so I went about securing several interviews with museums in the West Yorkshire area. I was lucky enough to obtain a placement position at Leeds Museums and Galleries. Lucy Moore (cover Archaeology Curator for Kat Baxter) came to meet me at the University for an interview and was fantastic and I greatly appreciate all her help.  
On arriving at The Discovery Centre (the Museum’s store facility) on my first day back in mid-September, the first task given to me by my supervisor and Archaeology Curator, Kat Baxter, was to get to work accessioning the M1-A1 Link Road Excavation archive. I wrote down every box name, their location and contents.
Going through the excavation archive
I then went through the publication of the excavation, ‘A New Link to the Past: The Archaeological Landscape of the M1-A1 Link Road’, where a previous volunteer had started accessioning the small finds. I first found all those objects, inked on their accession numbers (using special archival ink), photographed them – front and back, then filled in the relevant information onto the museum database, TMS. Some of the objects included an iron knife, a ring, flints and querns.
Bronze Age jet disc from the excavation, accession no. LEEDM.D.2008.3.39
I was then fortunate enough to spend four weeks at Leeds City Museum as a Visitor Assistant, which was such a good experience as I was able to see how different aspects of the museum work.  For example, I gained an appreciation of the difference between the day to day work of a Curator compared to the day to day work of a VA which was very interesting. My role as a VA was to patrol the galleries assisting members of the public when necessary, working in the museum shop and setting up for conferences. My highlight though was definitely Halloween half term, as I got to help out with craft activities in the education room, which was a hive of activity.
I then returned to The Discovery Centre where I carried on with the M1-A1 Link Road Excavation archive.  I moved on to the objects in the archive which weren’t accessioned, which included all the pottery pieces, more flints and querns. I accessioned these objects, photographed them then filled in the relevant information into TMS, including the period, description, location, constituent and dimensions, which I gathered from the excavation publication.

Accessioning flints from the excavation

And now here I am, it’s already 2014!  I have just completed the archive, so Kat has informed me what my next task will be: to co-ordinate a new archaeology display case at The Discovery Centre with the archaeology volunteers and interns. I am very excited about this as it is such an invaluable opportunity and a fantastic experience.
By Laura Bradbeer, BA (Hons) Archaeology student at Bradford University, and placement student at Leeds Museums and Galleries 

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