Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne

a bit of a progress report…
March 6, 2010, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Community, news, People | Tags: , , ,


The volunteers for this project have been of great help and have showed good progress so far.  They have gained in confidence along the way and the results they are producing are brilliant.  This section highlights the background and the type of people that are volunteering, or who have volunteered, in the past months.

Volunteers working on some of the objects (Image copyright Kent Messenger Group)

We have 31 volunteers at the moment and the vast majority of these dedicate at least 4 hours per week – some manage to complete 2 sessions per week.  At least a further 20 have been given training to work on these objects.  Some have left to find employment or return to higher education, whereas other have left for other reasons.  This may be due to a number of reasons – the work being too demanding, or finding the postures demanded of long hours at a microscope a bit too uncomfortable, or just that they felt they weren’t suited to the work.  We still get regular requests from visitors asking to volunteer and more training sessions are planned for the future.

Miscellaneous Volunteer Information…

In order of magnitude, we have a mix of retired women and men, part-time working mums, fully employed people who come on days off, people recently made redundant/in-between jobs, recent university graduates, history students (aged 16-early 20s).

These people came from a range of previous professions – examples of previous work include biology teacher, sales rep, secretaries, historian, a former surgeon & nurse, and council and social workers (the latter discovered his employers give him 3 funded days per year for voluntary work – his time spent goes into a ‘Time Bank’, a wonderful scheme where volunteer skills can be swapped!)

These all amount to much more than ‘willing hands’ – they bring their own (and partners’/friends’) skills and knowledge to all parts of our project.  Some have donated items for the lab and/or coffee room, and have advised on equipment procurement.

HLF/ICON intern Katrina Redman presenting x-rays to a group of school visitors

Conservation student interns from the Sorbonne, Cardiff University, West Dean and UCL have given weeks of their time to the project,  and our Icon/HLF funded intern Katrina Redman has been brilliant at helping run the CSI Lab day to day.

How far have we got?

For the first phase of the project (the partly funded part), we have 62 graves with an average of 6 objects in each (1-30 finds being the actual range).  We seem to have worked on the larger graves first, and have almost completed 30 graves, which equates to about 215 finds.

Of the 215 metal objects so far started, 60 have been completed and 155 started/almost finished.  For the first month working hours were not recorded, but so far 1139 volunteer working hours have been counted for working on 120 objects, the majority of these archaeological iron with mineral preserved organic (MPOs) remains present.  MPOs include bug casings, wood, straw, wool and linen.

There are 32 graves waiting to be started containing 89 objects: beads, flint  and other finds are included in this count.  If funding is secured for the second half of the site there will still be around 100 graves to complete.  Hopefully this will be achieved as the project is valuable on so many levels, both for the local community and the profession.


Special thanks go to Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Sittingbourne Heritage Museum and of course Dana Goodburn-Brown.  Further thanks go to Marston’s Brewery and Kent County Council, Heriatge Lottery Fund, as well as all the organisation, local businesses and volunteers/people who have dedicated their time and resources to the project.

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