Posted by admin on January 31, 2019
The first blog of 2019 is brought to us by Ruby. She reminisces about her first Teffont experience in 2012, and reflects on how over the years Teffont has helped her to rediscover her love of Archaeology.
It’s summer 2012, I’m crammed into the back of my parent’s car, giant backpack, tent and roll mat sharing the seats with me. I was on the way to a village I’d never heard of with absolutely no idea what to expect from an excavation with a bunch of people I’d never met. I’ll admit, I was pretty anxious.
6 hours of driving (in total) and an overnight stay in a Premier Inn near Bristol later, we pulled into the yard of a working cattle farm. I was blown away by the beauty of the tiny village of Teffont. The farm was a hive of activity, mainly with equally as nervous students pitching tents and chatting about what to expect.
Tef12 – my first year. So young and naïve!
7 years later and I still have such fond memories of my first year at Teffont. Although it wasn’t my first excavation, it was the first time I had lived and worked on a site, and my god it was fun… Digging it the blazing sunshine with great people, building a shelter for our lunchtime in said sunshine, drinking and socialising in a cow shed and completely missing the 2012 London Olympics. All (with the exception of the Olympics) was a key aspect of bringing together a tight knit community of excellent archaeologists who came back year after year. I have many reasons to be thankful to my years in Teffont: close friends, a career and my partner, who delights in telling people we met in a cow shed!
Myself and Rob shortly after Tef14
Looking back at my time in archaeology, Teffont remains a constant. It’s always been there, either happening around me or hovering in the back of my head. Archaeology can be amazing but it can be brutal and unforgiving so it was always nice to remember that for one week or maybe two, a small village in Wiltshire was transformed into a home away from home, a sanctuary, for both jaded commercial archaeologists and hopeful students. It’s also been a driving force behind my career in archaeology, particularly in the last few years. As one of the jaded commercial archaeologists, it all became a bit much for me in 2016, and I took my leave of archaeology. It was a difficult decision but I was in no fit state to be away from home, outside on potentially dangerous building sites and surrounded by strangers, so I walked away. I spent 2 years having a great time working in HMV (weirdly, one of my childhood dreams was to work in a music shop, so that was a win!) getting back to basics and not taking work home with me. It was time to reflect, regroup and recover. So when the opportunity to go to Teffont in 2017 came up, I decided this was going to be the watershed moment: if I loved it, it was time to go back to archaeology, if I hated it, it was time to retrain. There was a part of me that was hoping for the latter, to draw a line under an amazing but difficult time in my life and just move on. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I loved every second of it. Yes, even the paperwork, the rain and the mud. It was glorious.
Me telling Dave what’s what at Tef15
It took until mid-2018 before I applied for a short term contract with Historic England, on the urging of Teffont boss Dave, who would be running the site. It was a fantastic excavation and, much like Tef17, it reinvigorated my love for archaeology. Now, I’m sat in the attic in my house, working on writing up the stratigraphy of all the Teffonts past. It’s so interesting to see the evolution of both the project and the people. Some of the earlier trenches have been challenging to fit together but later trenches are almost perfect. It’s also wonderful to know that the work we’ve done over the years is coming together to paint a colourful and complex picture of the area’s past. The memories that these records conjure are filled with laughter and excitement: flashbacks of singing and dancing, of discoveries and of more than a few pints. Although Teffont is a fantastic archaeological site, it’s the people, the myths and the weird traditions that make it a place we come back to again and again.
That’s why you’ll see me at Tef19 (and all the ones that follow…).
Getting my head around the paperwork of Tef14….