In 2011 the first Day of Archaeology launched, with a website to give the world a sample of what we archaeologist actually get up to. Although the tellybox may distil our work into a few exciting days of excavation, the reality is a little different. For starters, a huge number of archaeologists do not spend their time excavating, or even recording archaeological sites. Whilst it is always nice to enthuse people about archaeology through new discoveries, it is the view behind the scenes, and out of the field which I think is really wonderful about the Day of Archaeology. The fact that entries come from all over the world adds to the colourful view of what we get up to.
This year I wanted to join in this wonderful celebration of archaeology. The Day of Archaeology was a Friday, a day I am usually on childcare, so I wrote about the day before. It may not be the most exciting entry, and is unlikely to persuade anyone to chose archaeology as a profession, but it will certainly provide a pretty standard view of what archaeology can end up being about! You can read my blog entry for the 2016 Day of Archaeology here. Enjoy!
I’ve created this blog as a space in which to reflect on my experiences as a PhD researcher and to muse on the places I go, people I meet and the variety of things I learn.
My research investigates the impact and effect of the Thames Embankment construction on working-class riverside residents in Chelsea. The Embankments were the largest publicly funded infrastructure projects of the 19th century, and their primary effect was to turn the stinking, sewage covered Thames foreshore into a wide, tree-lined avenue. This, and the prevention of further cholera outbreaks, is the predominant narrative in relation to the Embankments. The loss of waterfront businesses, opportunities for employment, the demolition of working-class housing and the eviction of the riverside residents is an untold story, but one I hope to illuminate in the coming years.
My background as a maritime archaeologist has provided me with experience combing traditional archaeological and historical sources with a water-orientated perception of landscapes and activity around water. The foreshore has traditionally been an under-researched area, falling outside of the comfort zones of both maritime and terrestrial archaeologists. Whilst a lot of research has taken place over the last 15 years on coastal foreshores, later post-medieval urban ports and waterfronts have been somewhat neglected. My aim is to highlight the value of a combined maritime archaeological and social history approach to our understanding of urban watery places and particularly the Thames riverside.
I’ll keep you posted and let you know how I get on …