Summer intern blog part 1: Let the good times roll!

Martha and Dan are archaeology students from University College Dublin and are joining us for four weeks over the summer to get hands-on with some experimental archaeology and public engagement. Here is their first blog post written by Martha about what they have been up to so far…

As week one of our internship at Butser Ancient Farm rolls to a close, Dan and I are enjoying the challenges and excitement of staying away from Dublin where we are both studying archaeology.

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Over the course of our 4 week stay learning and experimenting with the wonderful team at Butser we are each going to share with you a little about our adventures along the way. This week it is my turn.

A little introduction, my name is Martha and I am halfway through a part-time MSc in Experimental archaeology at University College Dublin. Previously I did my undergraduate in archaeology at Cardiff University, before working for 3 years as a commercial archaeologist in east Kent. But now I have headed back to university to further develop my career and delve deeper into the past. I have many interests in the world of experimental archeology but my main interests revolve around rocks, food and the outdoors, as you will soon see. But enough about me back to the fun stuff.

This week we have been exploring the world of Iron age bread ovens, because who does not love a freshly baked loaf? Over the course of our internship our goal is to run a number of small experiential and experimental tests with the aim of building a new iron age bread oven in the Moel y Gerddi roundhouse, with the hope of providing an alternative archaeologically based interpretation to the existing replica already in Danebury CS14 ( the red roundhouse).

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So far we have tested the effectiveness of the current oven so we can make improvements with a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. This has not only given us an opportunity to run a small scale experiment. but has also provided a brilliant opportunity to engage with visitors. We’ve had brilliant conversations with families from all over the world, from Belgium to Australia. Some staying to watch a loafs progression from flour to tasty morsel! It was clear the topics of fire and food connected us no matter where we are from or how old we are. It was great to see how people were provoked by our practical activity to think on the similarities between modern bread making and that in the iron age. It is wonderful how food can bring us together not just from people around the world but a connection to our shared ancestors.

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If this bready delight sounds interesting definitely watch this space for more, as we take what we have learnt and apply it to our new Moel y Gerddi bread oven.

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The other main task has been the design of a new activity for the festival of archeology on wednesday 24th July 2019. If you have ever wondered how Neolithic man moved the monoliths (standing stones) of Stone Henge, this is for you. A , thankfully, scaled down version has been sitting the Butser car park ready and waiting for its star part in the big day, but……

we needed to work out how to get the near 1 tone lump of stone to its new home, needless to say, we wanted to be authentic. I won’t give away too much of the how and whys, although the pictures and the title of this blog may give you a clue, but if you come on Wednesday to 24th or with your family make sure to bring your engineering brain and the solve the monolith mystery!

Well, that’s it for this week I hope I have whetted your appetite for more bread bites still to come. I am off to start the design of our next bread oven. If you enjoy making bread and have any top tips or use an unconventional cooking method do post a pic and tag us so we can see your culinary delights @butserfarm

bye for now Martha.

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