The Mingary Castle restoration blog was written by Jon Haylett, who lives in the local village of Kilchoan. Now that restoration is almost complete Holly and Chris Bull will take over to report on bringing the Castle back to life.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Cataloguing the Finds

Each week there is a personnel change in the team from Addyman Archaeology.  This week we've welcomed Lara Ferrarotti from Turin in Italy, who joins Tanja Romankiewicz and Kenny Macfadyen, both of whom I've met before, with Ross Cameron in charge.

Within hours of starting work yesterday Lara, who was excavating the southern of the two rooms in the east range, made a very special find....

....a tiny thimble.  Last time I became excited by a small find it was over what I took to be an unusually small horseshoe which turned out to be the steel cap for a hob-nailed boot, but this really is small and really is a thimble, so I can only speculate that it belonged to a child.

I write "I can only speculate...." because archaeologists are the most reticent species of human I've ever come across, and won't take a guess at anything, let alone read stories into the finds they make.

It was interesting to follow what happened to Lara's thimble once she'd dusted the dirt off it and placed it carefully in a polythene bag.  It was then numbered.  "2016 - M/C" refers to Addyman Archaeology's site code number for this job, 2016, and M/C is added, unnecessarily, to stand for Mingary Castle.  The "158" in the find number, and the "1005" is the 'context', the stratigraphic layer in which the thimble was found.  It seems that, as work progresses on a site such as this, various layer types can be defined.  "LF" is Lara's initials, and they are followed by the find date.

Lara borrowed a pen from me to record her thimble in the Finds Book where, essentially, the same information is written down.    She was later taken to task by Ross, who insisted that there is a convention by which all entries in the Finds Book are written in black pen.  I like Ross: he has principles.

All finds are boxed up and returned to Addyman Archaeology's offices, where they are cleaned and then looked at by a specialist.  He or she then produces a report which describes the style of the find and, hopefully, dates it.  The 'assemblage' - that is, all the finds from this Mingary Castle investigation - go to Treasure Trove Scotland where a panel of experts value it.  It is then advertised to museums who bid for it.  The best assemblages go to places like the National Museum of Scotland, while museums and heritage centres in other cities, regional museums and local museums, such as those in Fort William and Tobermory, are less able to buy exceptional assemblages.  If the assemblage isn't bought, it's retained by Addyman Archaeology, who choose how to dispose of it.

Many thanks indeed to Ross Cameron for explaining the process to me.

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