Like your own constitution, the fiery nature of the summer has taken my time away from my keyboard and away from this blog. At least I claim this, but I am redesigning my personal website so that may also have kept me busy. Although – happy Reader – let me blog a upon a little (now vanished) shed.
This year marks a whole 15 others since I joined my first ever archaeology club, aged 9, and it’s been over 20 years now since I started surprising relatives by digging toddler sized holes in their back gardens.
This summer was, however, the last summer for a little shed that has been sat at the bottom of our garden since me and my brother got it as a birthday present back in 1998. It started life as just a place to play in, but quickly had shelves added where odd finds appeared on display – and by the time I was ten it was basically my own museum.
When I moved bedrooms at about 14 I turfed a lot more odd finds out of my old room and into the shed, and since then it has sat pretty much undisturbed at the bottom of the garden. I moved out for university, came back, and left again – and the shed slowly began to fall down; this summer was time for the ruinous thing to go, and at last nearly two decades worth of pot, nails, tiles, bottles, and more to be sorted through.
There was a lot. Hence the title part one.
This cheeky little face was one of the first things I saw as we took off the roof and front wall of the shed – fallen off a collapsed shelf, it was an almost complete turn-of-the-century egg cup
Collapsed shelves were the first problem to be worked out before finds could be sorted through. Ivy had pushed through the back of the shed and forced a whole load of shelves over, miraculously with nothing breaking – probably because everything had fallen off slowly together.
A hole in the roof had also let in leaves and water, so a season’s worth of dead leaves needed clearing off of things. I won’t go into the re-homing of a decade’s worth of spiders.
Some things were still carefully boxed and tissue wrapped as I’d left them when they were found – this wealth of medieval window lead comes from a spoil heap or two at the first site I dug on.
How did I come by all these things? Well, a lot were scavenged from gardens of friends or relatives (I had one friend as a child whose garden was full of Roman pot, and we never found out why). Other bits come from beach trips, there’s some from just along local footpaths, and more bottles than I can count from a local 19th century tip. But the real wealth of things came from spoil heaps, which my child-self was allowed to climb over and keep whatever was found since it was out of context. This was at least until on one site I found part of a Norman font dropped onto the spoil by a digger – I did report that to the dig director and for some reason he didn’t want me to keep it.
There were plenty of boxes of pottery; from prehistoric through to modern, and certainly a healthy few boxes of medieval.
I was very careful from a very young age to label every single thing that I found as to where it came from – hence each box or in some cases even individual finds were accompanied by little labels, and my far too precise memory of my childhood adventures filled in any unclear gaps.
This medieval window glass comes from Beeleigh Abbey, and is the spoil-heap-recovered part of a small mountain of fragments that were found discarded in the remains of the guest wing, having been stripped of their valuable lead at the dissolution.
The happy Reader can kindly learn that I intend to post a few more of these little snapshots of the shed and its peculiar contents, and the little highlights – many of which I certainly had not expected to find.
Adieu, dear Reader!