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It’s here! East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight, Sept 1 – 16!

Here at the Archaeology Service we are getting super excited for, yep, you guessed it folks….the East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight 2018!

That’s right, our annual fortnight is back, with a veritable bang this year, landing multitudes of exciting, fun-filled, and thought-provoking events in a place near you!

Organised by the Archaeology Service at East Lothian Council, but delivered by a number of amazing and enthusiastic local groups and individuals working across East Lothian, we’ve got everything; from welcome returns like the Big Waggonway Dig down at Cockenzie Harbour, (a big hit last year), to guided walks and talks through the lost gardens of Yester.

You can try a bit of time travel walking from the earliest humans to traces of Neolithic settlement and the WWII coastal defences at Aberlady Bay; or get stuck in learning some traditional building skills at the Traditional Skills Festival in Tranent. And with a big focus on Haddington this year as part of the Haddington 700 celebrations, there’s even more of a zing in the air, as we help to showcase our local town’s history and culture. So whatever floats your boat, there really is something for everyone!

To find out more and sign up to get involved, visit: https://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/archaeologyfortnight or pick up a programme in libraries and museums throughout East Lothian.

Diary of work experience with Museum Services June 2018

This week I was helping out the East Lothian Council Museum Service for my work experience. I did many different things at several different museums, and I am going to tell you what I did on each day.

MONDAY
Monday was the first day of my work experience, and at the start I was nervous about pretty much everything – where was I to go? What time was I to be there? What if I got those things wrong and embarrassed myself on my first day? Fortunately, those fears were allayed when I reached Museum Headquarters that morning and was told I was supposed to be there. I met my “supervisor” (just joking) Claire Pannell who told me my schedule for the day. Firstly, I was to help prepare for a tour that was coming to see the Museum Store (where all of the objects that are not being displayed in a museum are kept). I helped with setting out chairs, getting water for those coming, and helping to get biscuits to eat. Once we had done that, Claire drove me down to the John Gray Centre to see one of the paintings there. “The Hoeing of the Fields” be taken down and be put back up again later in the day. We then went back to HQ to meet those who were arriving for the tour. As Claire explained to the group what she did and what the threats were to the objects in the store were, I listened while reading about how to become a volunteer. Unfortunately, I am too young but it’s a good idea for the future. Once Claire was finished, we were off.
As we walked into the store, I couldn’t help noticing how much colder it was in there than the rest of the building. Despite the store still being about 16°C it felt icy and wondered how long we were going to be in there. My feeling of coldness was replaced by one of wonder as I saw all of the different objects in there, my favourite being the silver ring with a sapphire inlaid in it. Eventually however, it was time for the tour to end. As the tourists (in a certain sense) left, we packed up and had lunch. After lunch, we went back down to the John Gray Centre and I watched as they rehung the picture. After that, we went back to HQ, I collected my stuff and went home.

TUESDAY
On Tuesday morning, Katherine took me up to Prestongrange Museum so that I could see what happens there. I sat in on a Bookbug session, and was amazed to see the number of both adults and children there. As they sang, played and read, I couldn’t help feeling a bit astonished at the general good behaviour shown by the children. As I tided up, I was asked if I wanted to go on a tour of the museum. Obviously I did, so we went after lunch. As we walked, the tour guide, Margaret, explained about the history of the museum and showed me the beam engine. It was huge, and I was astonished as to how big it was, as even a spanner needed to make it work was about the height of me! After the tour, I got on the bus and went home.

WEDNESDAY
Wednesday was spent in the John Gray Centre. After exploring the museum and the photo exhibition, I was asked to create a question tour of a sort, using objects in the museum that were from Haddington for the Haddington 700 event. As I did that, I found it hard to keep a balance between making the object to find, and making the questions about it hard enough to be interesting yet easy enough so that children could find and then answer them. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was lunch time. After lunch, Katherine looked over the questions that I had written and said they were fine. I then started to look for cameras (specifically Victorian and Edwardian ones) on the John Gray website. Once I had found a few, it was 15:00 and time to go home.

THURSDAY
On Thursday, I caught the bus up to Dunbar. Katherine let me in to the Town House Museum and I saw the exhibitions that are on there. At 10:00, I went across the street to John Muir’s Birthplace to help with a P5 class from Gullane that were coming. When they arrived, I thought that they would be a noisy, disruptive class from how they were acting on the say in. But that was not true; they were generally polite, well-mannered and interested in John Muir. They did have basic knowledge gaps (like not knowing that New York was in in the USA), but that is to be expected with young children. When they left it was lunchtime and I enjoyed a nice walk by the sea. After lunch, I went back over to Dunbar Town House and met Fiona, who explained the exhibits to me so that I actually understood the art ones; (they’re worth a visit, you should go.) And I saw a video about the old outdoor swimming pool that was demolished in the 1980’s. Afterwards, I helped to start writing some questions for a new exhibition that is coming soon. Once that was done, I caught the bus home.

FRIDAY
Friday was the final day of my work experience, and I must confess that I feel a great deal of sadness that it can’t last longer. I wrote this blog today, whilst under the affliction of a cold, so I’m sorry if it’s a bit of a mess. I very much enjoyed my work experience week, and am now going to have to get ready to start S4. I learnt a lot about how museums operate, and about them and their contents history.  I hope to maybe volunteer one day in the future, when I’m old enough and not busy with exams, so hopefully I’ll see you again then.

Memories of The Pond and Pond Hall

Swimming has been a favourite summer pastime for as long as we can remember. In the early 20th century, outdoor swimming became increasingly popular with lidos scattered throughout the country, particularly in coastal towns. In the 1920s and 30s, recreational swimming became an increasingly popular pastime and more accessible to the public because of improved public transport and increased leisure time. Consequently, a relatively large number of outdoor swimming pools were built in Scotland, especially at sea-side locations in which seawater was drawn into these pools. Some of the seawater was cleaned out and refreshed naturally by the tide. Other pools were plain walled areas on the waterfront to provide a safe bathing space. In later times, more sophisticated heated baths emerged. This trend, however, disappeared when the facilities diminished and the lure of holidays abroad became more popular.
In Cockenzie & Port Seton, many local residents have fond memories of The Pond and the Pond Hall, which opened in June 1932 and was the focus of social life in the burgh for much of the period right up to the 1950s. The construction of The Pond and the Pond Hall, commissioned by the Burgh Council of Cockenzie & Port Seton, was initiated by Provost John Hall Weatherhead who recognised the need to emulate Dunbar and North Berwick. Therefore, the area was developed as a seaside resort with potential for business expansion and with the intention to fulfil present and future recreational requirements for Cockenzie & Port Seton. The intersection of Fishers Road and the line of the High Street became the chosen site. Costing at £10 000, the project was financed with £625 from the Burgh Council as well as personal and community donation of monies and materials, and voluntary labour over a period of two and a half years.
When it opened in 1932, The Pond had an Olympic standard pool measuring at 50 x 25 yards with changing cubicles at the east and west ends. The spectator capacity was at 1500 on both the north and south sides. There was also a 33 foot diving stage – the highest in Scotland – installed. This was an impressive feat by a small fishing village particularly because it happened during the Depression period. When the Pond Hall was completed in the following year, there were additional changing facilities, Council chambers, a library, a tearoom and a main function hall which accommodated 800 people. The hall also had a sprung ballroom floor, one of three in Britain, and was in continuous use for weddings, dances, and youth and church related activities. For this reason, the Pond Hall became the civic, social and recreational centre for the local community. During the 1930s, the opening of The Pond was also signified by long queues of children and adults from all over East Lothian. The exceptional facilities and reputation also made The Pond a key training venue for swimming clubs from all over Scotland. Amongst the frequent visitors were the Portobello Scottish and British Water Polo Champions.
The Pond and the Pond Hall remained open throughout the World War 2 years and became even more central to the community’s social and recreational activities. After the war, new community activities emerged. For example, in 1947, the Cockenzie Players staged their first production in the Pond Hall and such shows continued until 1961. In addition, the Cockenzie & Port Seton Bowling Club and Gala fund raising dances were also held there. The car park at the Pond Hall was also the annual venue for the crowning of the Gala Queen, and this attracted large crowds from across the county.
In 1949, the swimming club (originally formed in 1928) was restarted and by 1955 it had a membership of 400. The 1950s also witnessed the resurrection of swimming galas with frequent visitors like Peter Heatley, a Commonwealth gold medallist diving champion, and local club diver, A. McNeil from Tranent. Floodlit bathing was also introduced in the 1950s, and there was dancing every Saturday night in the Pond Hall. In December 1953, a clock tower was unveiled on top of the Pond Hall. It was donated by public subscription in memory of Dr John Black, a former medical practitioner in the town, who lived in Link Roads for many years.
By mid 1960s, there was a major decline in the swimming club activities. As the years passed, the amount of essential maintenance and upgrading increased. In 1973, the Burgh Council recognised the need to modernise and upgrade the facilities. However, due to strict budget controls, no further steps were taken by East Lothian District Council. Investment and maintenance of the pool, from then on, was affected. By the 1980s, new indoor swimming and leisure facilities were developed in Dunbar, North Berwick, Haddington and Musselburgh. The state of The Pond, however, continued to decline. And when the Port Seton Community Centre in the King George V Park opened in 1994, it became increasingly evident that The Pond and the Pond Hall facilities were no longer as appealing as they had once been. With attendances failing, and costs running at £12 per swimmer, it was no longer economically justifiable for The Pond and the Pond Hall to stay open in 1994. Finally, a decision was made to convert the Pond Hall site into a housing development.
In spite of a 4000 signature petition and business letters of support, the Pond Hall was demolished in December 1995. Although the District Council was sympathetic to the community’s wishes to hold on to this significant piece of their heritage, refurbishing the Pond Hall was considered to be too costly and unnecessary especially since other sports developments were available in the surrounding area. With the closure of the Pond Hall, the Dr Black Clock was moved to Hart Estates, Macmerry for safekeeping.

Wiles Buses – Catch them at Longniddry Library during April 2018

Wiles Buses – Catch them at Longniddry Library during April 2018.

The History
The Buses – over 30 on display
The Garage – See how the construction of the original garage is progressing!

Representation of the People Act, or the Fourth Reform Act

Today marks the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act on the 6th February 1918. What did that mean? Why is it important? Well, if you haven’t been following the radio, the news and social media today and yesterday, it reformed the electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland after years of campaigning. For the first time some women were granted the right to vote, as well as all men over the age of 21. However, only women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote. Another 10 years had to pass before working class women over the age of 21 were granted that right.
It’s unimaginable today, but to be eligible to vote in 1918 a woman had to not only be over 30, but also be either a member of, or married to, a member of the Local Government Register; or be a property owner, or a graduate voting in a university constituency. Perhaps this was because women outnumbered men (due to losses of male lives in WWI) and it was feared that a specific women’s party might emerge if they were all granted the vote at once?
Although not equality, where would women be now if it hadn’t happened at all, I wonder? I’m sitting here musing on just how lucky women in the UK are; that we have the right to vote, and also upon the struggles and sacrifices my predecessors went through. Suffragettes were ridiculed in the press, imprisoned, beaten, and force fed when they went on hunger strike. Gender inequality still exits and we are still fighting it, but at least we have the right to vote and we don’t have to resort to such violent struggles and sacrifices to get our voices heard.

reform banner

Reform banner

The act passed in 1918 was the 4th Reform Act, each Act building on the one before.
The first reform Act in 1832 increased the Scottish male electorate from 4,239 to 65,000. Although the 3rd Act allowed 5 million men the vote but a few years later was considered a ‘charter of slavery rather than enfranchisment’. It only allowed 60% of men over 21 the vote and millions of soldiers returning home after the First World War would still not have been entitled to vote!
ELCMS cares for a marching banner that was once owned by reform campaigners in Musselburgh over a hundred years ago. It has been exhibited in the John Gray Centre in Haddington.
Despite violent agitation, including local acts such as the burning of Whitekirk church in 1914 to protest at the force-feeding of female prisoners in Edinburgh, Suffragettes put their protestations on hold during the First World War when women assisted the war effort by doing ‘men’s work’.
Granting the vote to women was to be recognition of their contribution during WWI.

Whitekirk Church 1914

Whitekirk Church 1914

East Lothian women had been making an important contribution to the growing female inclusion in the social and political scene. The prominent suffragette, Catherine Blair from Hoprig Mains, founded the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute (SWRI) in Longniddry in 1917, to bring women together and try to remedy the isolation many women felt living in the countryside. Their motto ‘For Home and Country’ and ‘Deeds not Words’ The SWRI movement grew rapidly and by 1922 there were 22 branches in East Lothian alone.
Catherine also set up the Mak Merry pottery, believing that the lives of women in the countryside could be enriched through arts and crafts and the teaching of those skills. Today the SWI continues that tradition and has over 16,000 members across Scotland.

SWRI banner 1917

SWRI banner 1917

We must never forget the bravery and determination of all of those women that came before us in the fight for equality, and we must never take our rights for granted. Global inequality still exists.
To not vote, in my opinion, is to disvalue those brave women who came before us and the men who supported them. #100years #Votes100 #Suffrage100
(By: Dr. Claire Pannell, Collections Officer, Museum service with thanks to Pat Gawler for the research)

Organising an Exhibition

Katherine Weldon asked if I could recount my experience, the highs and the lows, of putting together the current exhibition in the John Gray Centre Gallery – The Story of St Andrew and the Saltire – which opened on 28 October 2017 and runs until 30 January 2018.

I rashly agreed!

It was back in March 2016, at a meeting of the Scottish Flag Trust in Athelstaneford Church, that the idea was first raised. It was during discussions as to how best to mark the 20th anniversary of the Flag Heritage Centre which had opened its doors to the public in 1997. “Why don’t we hold an exhibition?” a Trustee innocently asked, and so it was agreed and minuted.

Little did I know what I, as Trust Chairman, was letting myself in for over the next 18 months.

The first task was to find a suitable venue for the exhibition. The John Gray Centre was the obvious choice – central location, accessible, and with good gallery space. But to secure this venue, formal application had to be made to East Lothian Council Museums Service, and this required details of what the aims of the exhibition were, and the likely content. And so the Trust put together an outline of what was envisaged, and what it might cost. After meeting and making the case to Museums staff, consent was granted and an exhibition slot at the end of 2017 agreed.

The second task was then to put together funding bids to various bodies, in the knowledge that mounting and promoting such an exhibition would be expensive. Applying for funding can take a lot of time and effort, as potential funding bodies ask for evidence of local support for projects, as well as detailed costs. So the Trust had for example to ask for written support from Haddington & District Community Council, and seek quotes for graphic work and publications. In the event, these funding bids proved unsuccessful.

The most frustrating rebuff was from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 2017 had been designated the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and HLF had grants of between £3k and £10k available, and the Trustees felt sure a proposed exhibition about the Battle of Athelstaneford and about Scotland’s patron saint would meet the criteria. But after waiting some months for a decision, the Trust was informed in December that its project was deemed not to represent good value for money.

Arising from this, the Trust had to cut back on some elements. For instance, it had initially wanted to take the exhibition on from Haddington to other venues, such as North Berwick and Musselburgh, and to engage more directly with schools. This was no longer possible.

The third and main task was to work up an exhibition layout, and then the design and content of the main boards to be displayed on the gallery walls. This was an iterative process in which each board went through a number of changes over a period of months. This was only possible thanks to the creative skills and flexibility, not to mention enormous
tolerance, of Scott Ballantyne, the Trust’s graphic designer. Scott is now retired, and generously agreed to work for far below the normal commercial rate. Images had to be sourced for exhibition boards and pamphlets, and this required many visits, for example to the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral, and to photograph relics of the patron saint. Texts had
to be checked and re-checked for accuracy. There was a huge sigh of relief in the summer of 2017 when the boards were finally signed off, ready for printing.

All of the smaller exhibits to be displayed within the three gallery cases had been amassed over the previous months, and card descriptions were then prepared, checked and printed. A 16 page pamphlet providing a fuller background, to be made available to visitors to the exhibition, had to be prepared, checked and printed.

In parallel to all this, approaches were being made to National Museums Scotland and to other collections to try to secure some important items for display. Again, formal application can be a lengthy process, and the Trust was advised to allow up to 9 months in some cases. Fortunately, approval was given in time by NMS for the Pictish Benvie Stone
and a Roman coin from Traprain to be displayed, and the Edinburgh Trades also kindly agreed to allow the ceremonial copy of the Blue Blanket to be displayed.

The final week in October 2017 was especially nerve-wracking, as this was the setting up week in the gallery. We were working against the clock, knowing that the exhibition had been publicised as opening on the Saturday. Boards had to transferred safely and hung, exhibition cases had to be cleaned, moved and set up with exhibits and text cards, and the
arrival of loan items from NMS and other collections co-ordinated. The Thursday afternoon was particularly fraught, but fortunately Katherine Weldon, having seen it all before, was an oasis of calm. Amazingly, everything fell into place, nothing was overlooked, and the exhibition was able to open to the public on time and without any disaster.

The official opening on 31 October, with Cabinet Minister Fergus Ewing MSP doing the honours, was a highlight. Invites had gone out in time, the press turned up, and everyone enjoyed a guided tour of the exhibition, quite unaware of the panic of the previous week.

A final thought comes to me that an exhibition is much like an iceberg. What is on display represents the final 10%; what visitors don’t see is the 90% beneath the surface comprising all long months of research, preparatory work, design changes, text changes, not to mention discarded ideas and blind alleys.

Dave Williamson, Chairman, The Scottish Flag Trust

Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders Archaeology Conference 2017!

Another year, another fabulous conference! If we were to start a recipe book for creating the perfect mix of people, papers and provisions at a regional archaeology conference, perhaps it may have read a little like this year’s programme:

….take one probable barrow in Prestonpans; add in a chunk of medieval buildings, settlement and industry in Edinburgh’s Old Town; lace with place names and long-lost churches in Berwickshire and Coldstream; dot with isolated prehistoric pits; mix well with some prehistoric settlement in Dunbar, serve with a slice of Lamer Island; douse with a good slug of Flodden; and, finally, bake with copious amounts of coffee and delightful nibbles….!

(For those of you lucky enough to have heard Beverley Ballin Smith’s thought-provoking paper, you will note the nod to her baking reference!)

Putting almost all tom-foolery aside (never quite all, we are archaeologists), we were treated to another splendid array of papers, delivered by a wonderful mix of heritage groups, commercial units and academics. Each gave us a fascinating insight into a diverse, and in some cases, wholly unexpected range of topics: the intricacies of the medieval tanning process and its associated material culture; the specific sequential numbering of the roof beams in Panmure House; the very localised design of the stone-carved grave markers in medieval border Kirks…the list goes on!

We’ve also had a conference that has highlighted the benefits of coming together and sharing the results of the heritage work we are all engaged in.

This reinforces our existing relationships, but also helps to forge new links, create new collaborations and pose further avenues for research. All of which is most timely given the work just starting on SESARF, our South East Scotland Archaeological Research Framework!

The conference has shown that there is clearly much to be gained, on several fronts, from such a regional syntheses; for understanding more broadly the heritage that we do have, and for working out what we don’t know; and, importantly for strengthening our amazing heritage community in the south-east!

Thanks very much to all our speakers, sponsors and stalls for making this year’s conference another success…we’re already looking forward to next year’s – if you have any comments, photos or suggestions we’d love to hear from you!

The Dunbar Lido

The days of outdoor pools in dotting Scotland’s coast in every town are gone but they are certainly not forgotten. A favourite outdoor swimming pool with locals and tourists alike was of course the Dunbar Lido which was located near to the current Leisure Centre on the coast near the East Coast Beach.

Postcard depicting the Ladies Bathing Pool and Pavilion in Dunbar (1928-1931)

The pool was separated from the ocean by a wall and would refill with sea water at   high tide. The location of the pool meant that it was sheltered by the cliffs. The pool was suitable for swimming whether it was high or low tide and was a much have been a safer alternative to swimming in the open ocean.

The first design for the pool was built in the late 1880s and contained brick and concrete dressing houses. Even at the time it was considered a work in progress and had plans for an upgrade and a new Pavilion at the ladies pool built in 1904. It consisted of 14 dressing rooms and a seated veranda.

The pool proved popular with locals and with tourists who would flock to Dunbar from Edinburgh and Glasgow during summer on the train and in coaches.  The season for the pool would span from late May to late September every year and during the peak season of July and August the population of Dunbar would double in number.

The popularity of the pool led to more improvements in the early 1920s when the wall separating the sea and the pool was raised and a promenade was added. Several years later in 1928 a boating pond was added, and only 1 year later in 1929 further extensions were made. By this stage the pool was 240ft by 151ft and had a depth of 2.5ft and 5.5ft. It was 7.5ft deep in the diving area and was planned to be made further deeper again with the addition of an Olympic standard diving board. These extensions made the Dunbar lido the largest open air pool in Scotland.

Photograph depicting workmen building the paddling pool and boating pond, Dunbar. Late 1920s.

Only 2 years after this in the early 1930s further upgrades were made to the pool and the pavilion was replaced with a larger structure curving around the pool. A hall was also added containing seating for 300 and there were 170 cubicles in total.

During the 1930s, there was a further rise in popularity due to the craze for health and outdoor living that swept Scotland. As the health benefits of being outside became more apparent, doctors would regularly recommend visiting the seaside to aid health. George Simpson the architect of the latest pavilion and hall upgrades at the pool described the outdoor pool as “the most attractive health resort on the east coast if not in Scotland”. In the Dunbar official guide book it was described as “owing to the purity of the sea and the rocky shingly coast there was no necessity at Dunbar to filter and chlorinate the sea water. In health – giving qualities the water in the swimming pond is the same as the sea.”

Postcard depicting five girls at Dunbar Swimming Pool, 1946

The outdoor pool and pavilion were regularly used for events over the summer time. From the 1920s an annual gala was held at the pool. The upgrades in the 20s and the 30s meant that the pavilion and grass slopes could hold several thousand spectators. Swimmers would compete in races and in between clowns and acrobatic divers would provide entertainment. Display teams from Portobello and Edinburgh would regularly attend the event. In the 1960s and early 70s the pool also hosted a very popular beauty contest “Miss Dunbar Bathing Suit competition”.

Due to a decrease in tourists coming to Dunbar in the summer, largely due to the increased popularity of overseas holidays, the pool was left in an eroded state and eventually in November 1984 bulldozers and diggers spent one month dismantling the pool. Even as this was happening talk had already begun on building another pool for Dunbar. However, it was not until 1992 that the current Leisure pool opened its doors which is still popular with locals and tourists today.

East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight 2017!

It’s that  time of year again folks! Here at East Lothian Council’s Archaeology Service, we are once again gearing up for the exciting prospect of East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight, held every year during the first two weeks in September!

For 2017,  East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight will celebrate the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, with a bumper pack of events to get everyone involved:  guided walks, illustrated talks, excavations, and lots more besides, all designed to showcase the wonderful and varied archaeology, history and heritage of East Lothian! We’ve got everything from spectacular battle re-enactments by the Battlefield Trust, helping to mark the 470th anniversary of the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, to the Big Waggonway Dig lead by the 1722 Waggonway Heritage Group down at Cockenzie harbour; and of course, regular favourites like the annual day of lectures at St. Mary’s Church, Haddington, provided by the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society.

There really is something for everyone, so why not check out our full programme of events by clicking on the link here: http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/archaeologyfortnight  and book yourself in for some super fun and informative heritage treats in September!

Alternatively, you can pick up a programme in libraries and museums throughout East Lothian.

Don’t forget to look out for the annual Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders Archaeology Conference, taking place this year on November 18th at Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh. For more information visit: http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/archaeologyconf2017

Dunbar’s Dustbin Detectives!

Another year, another archaeological frontier breached at Dunbar Science Club! http://www.dunbarscienceclub.org.uk/

A sunny Saturday morning saw Andy and myself heading out to the Bleachingfield Centre armed with a rubbish bag and a motley collection of Andy’s breakfast detritus, and then some lovely prehistoric artefacts from our handling collection. Our mission: to explore strange old worlds, to seek out some fellow ‘Dustbin Detectives’ at Dunbar Science Club, and to boldly go where no archaeologists has gone before….(Andy’s rubbish bin)!

Exploring strange old worlds through our objects! Photo courtesy of Dunbar Science Club

Over the course of three workshops, our brave and intrepid dustbin detective archaeologists examined our collection of objects, both modern and ancient. We thought about what kinds of materials and objects we leave behind in our rubbish bags today, and what might survive buried in the ground for future archaeologists to find. We then looked at the kinds of artefacts people in the past left behind, and what we might be missing if material has rotted away.

After fuelling up on delicious coffee supplied by Bleachingfield café, our ‘final frontier’ was to form our own interpretations, our own version of the story, about how people in the past lived their lives, based upon the evidence that our artefacts could tell us.

Dustbin detectives hard at work creating our stories of the past! Photo courtesy of Dunbar Science Club

We all had a fun time learning about such objects as ancient sheep tick combs, animal hide scrapers and grain for making beer (Andy’s favourite); and after a little deliberation, we were unanimous in our interpretation that all Andy’s rubbish suggested, was that he had had a rather large breakfast!

Boldly going where no archaeologist has gone before-Andy’s breakfast! Photo courtesy of Dunbar Science Club

Thanks to all the children who took part and to Dunbar Science Club for asking us to come along!

Speaking of the future, our next adventure here at the Archaeology Service, will be a return to the wonderful world of East Lothian Archaeology and Local History Fortnight in September! We’ve got a great programme jam-packed full of a huge variety of events taking place all over East Lothian, so plenty for everyone, and lots of exploration to be had, so do come along and join us! http://www.eastlothian.gov.uk/info/844/archaeology/929/archaeology_whats_on