Student Blog — Field School Reflections: The Beginning of the End

Susannah has some moments and photos to share about her field school experience. James, Michael and I weren’t able to make it to laser tag, looks like we missed out! — Kate

Today marks the first day of the last week of our field school.

At the beginning of the course, most of us had never met and many of us had yet to experience archaeology in the field. In our first week, we were introduced to one another, and the BcGn-17 site. We walked the freshly ploughed field and flagged the artifacts at the surface, excited for each person who called out a ‘find’. Later on in that first week, I worked with Justyna, Cierra, and Alyssa to map and collect some of the artifacts we had found during our pedestrian survey. Even though it was raining and overcast, we still had a great time learning to use the theodolite and getting to know each other.

Cierra, Alyssa, Susannah and Justyna mapping in surface finds.

Over the next two weeks, we opened up a number of 2m x 2m units, which we excavated in groups of two or three. I teamed with Tim and Justyna to excavate a 2×2 and we were excited by the many artifacts we uncovered! My favourite artifact I found was a fragment of a pipe bowl that had an anchor on it.

The first 2×2.
Pipe bowl with anchor.
BcGn-17 site

During the third week, I had the pleasure of helping out at the Middle Woodland site along with some of my fellow field school mates, and the Indigenous Liaison trainees. Not only were the people lovely (I especially appreciated Rob’s great laugh!) but the material culture was fascinating.

Photo of Janet, Justyna, and Susannah working on a 1m x 1m at the Middle Woodland site.

Later on in the third week, I returned to the historic BcGn-17 site to further excavate the drain (originally thought to be a wall) with Grant and to learn how to use the Total Station. Mel, Michelle, Tim, Alyssa, and I were assigned a mapping assignment where we were asked to map a simulated lithic scatter. We used the Total Station to get the coordinates of each marked ‘artifact’ and then drew out a to-scale map of the scatter. While it was tedious work at times, we managed to have lots of laughs! The mapping exercise was good practice because Tim and I later had to use the Total Station to map the uppermost stones making up part of the drain.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a wall … no it’s a drain!
Grant and Susannah’s progress excavating a portion of the drain.
Michelle, Susannah, Mel, and Tim posing for a photo mid-mapping exercise.
Total Station coordinates for each stone making up the drain (Feature 2) plotted in QGIS.

Now, nearly four weeks later, we have transformed from a group of strangers, uneasy in the field into a friend group of confident, early-career archaeologists.

The gang having a blast at laser tag!

While I’m sad this experience is coming to an end, I’m looking forward to what we’ll learn about the site in the final days of the field school and to keep in touch with the great group of people in it. 

— Susannah Clinker

Preantepenultimate Excavation update

We are down to the last few days of the field school, specifically, the fourth last day!

We had quite a lot of rain on Saturday, and we arrived this morning to BcGn-17 to find the drain is continuing to do its work, even though we have punched some holes in it! A little bailing was necessary to continue some recording but over the course of the day it filled back up with water.

The lovely water feature!

It was a very small crew here at BcGn-17 today, as we had a lot of people over at the Indigenous site helping to finish and backfill open units and shifting the excavation grid to open new units outside of a monarch butterfly monitoring zone. We have a little time before the monarchs fly up here, but the field school time is running out!

Our tasks today were to continue open excavation units, clean and trowel back the drain excavations, and do any feature profiling that was ready. We had a visit after lunch by Dr Leigh Symonds (who sometimes teaches for us in the Department of Anthropology) and some students from the Camp Kawartha Environment Centre, it was nice to see how interested they were in archaeology and they had some good questions for our crew.

We poked a bit at the wood and have decided it is large planks with mortar between and underneath. Perhaps part of a structure wall?

We have also decided to open up another 2×2 since we are so intrigued by how the top end of the drain seems to turn and expand into a larger rock pile with brick and mortar. This may be flying a little too close to the sun but we can’t resist squeezing in one final unit and getting a peek to the west.

This will mean all hands on deck tomorrow and Thursday but we are confident we can do it!