VM_365 Day 292 Unseen archives hold untold stories

VM 292

Today’s image for VM_365 Day 292 is of an unknown quantity, an archive of archaeological finds and records that has not been examined for decades. The long archive box above has a label that identifies it as being from an excavation carried out in 1964 by one of Thanet’s pioneering archaeologists Joe Coy, leader of the Thanet Excavation Group in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

All over Britain there are similar collections of unexamined material that may hold all kinds of useful and informative material. What could we learn if each one of these collections could be opened and assessed? Digs that are decades old may have useful material to help with the interpretation of old sites and more recent excavations.

To begin with, the label on the box at least gives the artefacts in it a  location, a site near Dumpton Gap, on the east facing downland between Ramsgate and Broadstairs facing the sea to the east. Many excavations have been carried out in the area, over decades and by different groups and excavators.

The archaeological data we have for the area is widely distributed, and is in many respects rich and complex, but rather than a blanket of information we have something more like a moth eaten sheet, full of holes and missing pieces because of the tragic effects of time and entropy on the records and archives. After long years of travel and storage this small archive has finally ended up in the Trust’s collection. It has become our responsibility to  understand and preserve the material in the archive and pass it on as fully as we can.

This post for VM_365 will be the first of series that follows our exploration of what is almost an archaeological excavation in itself. We will begin to unpick the layers of material contained in the box and try to understand the value of each deposit and artefact that we discover.