So, for reasons I won’t go into and which can probably be guessed at (given I voted in Scotland and am a mummy and a lady and an employee amongst other things) the last few days have not been full of the happy. Many of my friends in real life and twitter feel much the same way, and there have been many requests for “some happy things to distract me” and the like.

So, for that reason, may I present some of our latest DIY efforts? Wallpapering this weekend means we now have these up:

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Our new ‘Marvel-ous’ wall

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Our little blonde haired blue eyed sword wielding boy, oh wait, this one is Link, not the Toddler

Marvel wallpaper is from Graham and Brown but bought on sale at the Range and the Link wall art is from thinkgeek. We are quite happy with them, so hopefully they cheer you up a bit too!


The IKEA Lack toddler table and two chairs is a bargain at ÂŁ20. I think its the same table and chairs that Toddler is used to at his old nursery so it made sense to get a set for the new house.


IKEA Latt table and chairs set

It is quite plain though, and with no cushioning for little Toddler bums. I’ve seen quite a few people do makeovers on the chairs so had a go myself.

I glued a piece of 1 inch foam to the chair seat and covered this with a nice star pattern fabric, held in place with a few small dots of fabric glue. Then I reassembled the chair, this is where it started to go wrong. I had to push pretty hard to get the seat and the additional 1-2mm of fabric back into the slot to hold it together. This additional 2mm was too much, and I pushed too hard so I split the wood along the front of the chair. I couldn’t glue it back together as the force of the foam meant that it wouldn’t hold. I had to use a few tacks to hold the split bit back on and it seems to be holding. I did split the wood again but heh ho.

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You can see the split here 😦

Overall, I’m pleased. Toddler now has a nice cushioned chair which only cost an extra ÂŁ2 for the foam and fabric and took less than 15 minutes. I have yet to tackle the other chair, but when I do I think I’ll sand along the inside of the precut grooves to give an extra 2mm or so. At the end of the day, if the first chair doesn’t last, he’ll still have the table and once chair and we won’t have wasted any money really at all.

The new star chair and the untouched one.

The new star chair and the untouched one.

Calling all Archaeology students! Looking for a field school? Interested in the Scottish Mesolithic?

Archaeological Landscapes: Professional Skills

The Upper Loch Torridon field school will take place from the 21st – 26th September 2015 (inclusive).

We haven’t started the season yet, but for more information please see the pages in the sidebar or email

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Looking for somewhere to visit this coming weekend? How about doing your own mini Edinburgh History Trail? The Toddler and I like museums, so here are a few pics from our recent wanderings – maybe they’ll inspire your own visit?

This little adventure had an Antiquarian theme. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, if not, then check out asap. The Society is now based in the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) but the accomodation history of the Society is really interesting. From the granting of the Royal Charter in 1783 to the present (2015), the Society has been housed in a number of places (see this page by the Society for more information).

These photos show some of the evidence that the Society used to have accomodation in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, as well as a photo of the Lady History in the Grand Hall, just because The Toddler said “lady nice”. Aren’t the photos inspiring? Wouldn’t walking under that shield to gaze in wonder at the museum collection help transport you right into the collections? Wouldn’t sitting in that library just make you *want* to read and read and read? The library of the Society can still be consulted within the NMS, but at the moment visits are by appointment only (more here).

The Portrait Gallery is good, and lots to look at to entertain a Toddler. There is plenty of fun to be had climbing the stairs to the upper galleries and the star ceiling and Scottish History murals in the Grand Hall were big hits. Not buggy friendly though, they have to be folded and left at the door, so best to walk, backpack or sling little ones.

What will you discover on your adventures?


I haven’t had a blog rant for a while so here goes, todays topic is Your Academic Footprint.

In an age when your online presence is arguably as important as your offline being when it comes to career progression, how can you maintain academic credibility when websites for projects disappear?

The inspiration for this post is personal. I have worked on a number of short to medium lived archaeology projects where amongst the many outputs was often a website. Huge amounts of time, effort and money were spent on these projects and the websites they created represented not only archaeological knowledge for all to access but a snapshot of the thinking and methodology of the time.

Screenshot of old VERA website

Screenshot of old VERA website

Case study number one comes from the University of Reading and the Silchester project. The Silchester website was first created in 2001 and consisted of a few static pages. They did the job, containing practical information on how to get to the site and what students might expect from the field school. I joined the team in 2007 as the Archaeological Project Assistant on the Virtual Environments for Research in Archaeology (VERA) project. Part of my work involved redesigning the website and so, in time for the 2008 fieldschool, the project ended up building one in Drupal. It introduced lots more archaeological content, you could download old site reports, browse through photo galleries, use embedded features like weather and map widgets, share interesting content to new and exciting places like Twitter and Facebook (!), leave comments, ask questions and generally immerse yourself in the life of the archaeologists involved with the project. The audience for this new website included protective students, current students, staff, researchers from around the world – it was widely hailed as an informative and pretty website which did a great job of showcasing the archaeology.

The redesigned site even won a BAJR Heritage Web Award in December 2008! BAJR gave the following reasons:

The Silchester site won the award for the clean, easy to use design, the wealth of information available. The additional information is constantly changing, tapping into web 2.o and allowing the user to feel that this is a dynamic website, such as the well written blogs, images and finds gallery. The Virtual Environments for Research in Archaeology section, is a welcome addition, informing people a new direction in technology and archaeology, and inclusive of researchers and professionals as well as the public, who are well catered for on the site. A site to emulate.

Old Silchester website

Old Silchester website, c2001

More than that though, it also happened to showcase my flair for website design, my skills in HTML, PHP, and Javascript coding and growing experience with the new emerging social media world (it was back in 2008 after all!). I put the link on my CV and in post-Silchester interviews it was obvious that the interviewers on some of the panels had looked at and loved the site.

I am currently on an archaeological career break. Becoming a mummy a few years ago means I’ve had to delve into the world of the more stable workplace. I love my current job and I can see myself in it for another wee while, but not forever. I want to return to Archaeology and Heritage in the next few years, and if it had any sense, that world would want me and my skills and experience back. I keep an up to date CV in case I see something and, here speaks the digital curator in me, I periodically check the links it contains.

As you can see if you visit or, most of my work is now gone. VERA has been replaced by a pile of 404 signs or timeouts. The Silchester website still exists but in a very different form – it has in my eyes sufffered, but others may disagree. The website has now been got by the branding people at University, and imposing the corporate look and structure. Websites taken down at some point after the project ended, but not straight away – lulling readers into the false sense of security that they would be there next time you wanted to look. No warning given, I suppose the people doing the unplugging wouldn’t know who to warn. The end result is that there is very little to show for years of my work, other than the memories that lie with some colleagues that “Oh yes, Emma. She did a good job of that she did.”.

If you look closely, there is some evidence that these websites aren’t just a figment of my imagination. The Silchester YouTube channel (including my old and Twitter account are still going strong, for example.

Contrast this with somewhere else I have worked, the Archaeology Data Service and Internet Archaeology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given what they do, they have proof for all to see that I have worked there and done *stuff*. You can go to the staff pages and my name is still there, (although since I first though about writing this post, even the acknowledgement pages of IA have changed!), you can see the staff updates page to see where I went next, I am thanked by authors of papers etc. The result is that if a potential employer really wanted to check my work, they could make a good start just with a simple web search.

I know that change is inevitable, and that not all project websites can be maintained forever, but I’m struggling to see a solution. Short of attaching print outs of screenshots or old excavation reports to my cv, or directing potential employers to look at the wonderful wayback machine, how I can I prove these things ever existed? Do I take the URLS out of my CV? I guess that at the end of the day, my web footprint isn’t everything and my CV should be enough to convince people to give me an interview (well, you’d hope!) but it would be nice to have a but more substance to things. Thankfully, ScARF is still going strong and with this now being the Year of Archaeology and DigIt! 2015 somne of my more recent work will hopefully be around for a while.

Thoughts? Comments? How does this affect you? Is Archaeology and Heritage particularly susceptible because of the way projects are funded?

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Christmas 2014 was good: lots of fun family time, and although having The Toddler around did mean less in the way of wine than usual it did mean more legitimate lego building. I also had a helper for lots of the Christmas baking. It was strange to think it’d be the last Festive time in our house, since …

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Cornflour dough decorations in progress

Christmas is coming, and it will be our third with Sproggle.

Two years old is probably a good age for the festive period. He’s old enough to be excited about lights and trees and Santa but not yet swayed by adverts and the insatiable need for toys.

We made some salt dough decorations, but using bicarbonate of soda and cornflour instead of the usual recipe. Makes a whiter and smoother base to work with.

An early attempt at fieldwalking?

An early attempt at archaeological fieldwalking by The Toddler?

This blog post is happening because I have just read an article on a parenting website which infuriated me. It was about working mums being able to have it all so if this is not a topic that interests you then look away now and be spared the rant!

There is a lot of ‘big thinking’ going on in the Household recently. The Toddler is now a proper little boy – not our wee baby anymore, Daddy is doing a grand job at being a Senior Archaeologist at work as well as doing other archaeological research and being a great daddy, but moi? Well, I’m not sure.

For the last few months I’ve been back at work, which I’ve loved, in a very part time way. I’ve even managed to do some other non mummy things like the odd pint in the pub *shock horror* and get a haircut alone. All these small things are very good but it’s time to think about the bigger picture and get back into work (career) seriously as well as work on taking some more time for myself.

Up until now I’ve thought that me-time was selfish, that I should be concentrating more on the mummy stuff, but I don’t think I’m cut out to make homemade playdough (worth a post in itself) and bake cookies all day.

I think I have realised that I am a mummy who, whilst I love the Sproggle more than I ever thought you could love someone, needs to also have a career. There’s been some soul searching as to whether this makes me a terrible mother, some N*T mummy group people are probably setting up the wooden stakes and lighting matches as we speak. Lots of mummy magazine articles and blogs announce that you ‘can have it all‘, the ideal solution seems to be that you work part time and share childcare with daddy and grandma. That way, the articles say, you can have two salaries coming in but with no childcare costs going out. Both parents get to work and feel human, and your little cherub learns social skills and how to be away from you and go on adventures with grandma for ice cream and teddy bear picnics. Lovely.

Alas, not really practical if both parents are archaeologists. I haven’t seen one parenting article tackling *that*. How can you realistically share childcare with things like fieldwork, away jobs and long office hours? You need nursery. Sproggle is at nursery part time and loves it, it’s great for him and I’m happy he’s there but until they provide a chaffeur service a parent still needs to drop him off and pick him up. Nursery also only opens from 8am to 6pm. Luckily, this hasn’t been an issue for us because, for one of us anyway, our digging days are over. But I wonder how on earth digging parents manage to do the nursery run, assuming the fieldwork is not an away job in the first place. One of you would have to say no to work if the contracts clashed. And talking of contracts, if you are a digger unlucky enough to be on short contracts then you can’t plan life anyway really, nevermind childcare. Many nurseries can’t do (understandably) random hours care here and there, yes this week but not next etc.

I guess some people might read this and think, well don’t have babies if you don’t have a steady permanent job or something like that, and I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion but that would mean that most archaeologists wouldn’t ever be in a position to have a family. Who has a permanent job these days anyway?

But let’s leave digging archaeologists out of the equation for a while. Let’s tackle the academic ones. In some respects, archaeologist parents in academia might appear to have it easier than their commercial counterparts. They probably have an office and don’t do much fieldwork – nursery run sorted then. However, academics have a huge workload and most of the time are probably taking work home just to fit it in – like student essay marking, that extra funding bid to finish to keep your job. It’s almost impossible to do that stuff in the evening when there is a little person who won’t sleep or hasn’t seen you all day and wants hugs. Academic fieldwork probably involves long stints away from home when it does happen, weeks at a time. That leaves one parent at home alone for weeks, probably over the summer, now faced with a wee one who has noticed mummy or daddy is away and is probably now playing up.

The annoying article I read that led to to write this (and many others) suggests that you don’t need nursery at all if both parents work flexitime and use grandparents for a few hours a week. Archaeology doesn’t generally work with flexitime (i’m not suggesting it can or should, just pointing it out) and many archaeologist mummies and daddies have probably moved around the country (read: away from family) to keep a career going so grandparent care isn’t an option anyway. Non parents might be shocked to read that full time nursery costs about ÂŁ12000 a year, and non archaeologists might be shocked to learn that archaeology salaries can be as low as ÂŁ17000 a year before tax. Do the maths, that could be working full time to earn ÂŁ2000 a year (or ÂŁ40 a week) and never see your wee one.

Something isn’t right when parents might have to choose between carrying on an archaeological career and having a balanced family life. I’ve a mind to write to the yummy mummy blog concerned but now I’ve ranted I feel much better. What do other archaeologist parents think?

Awesome piece that all archaeologists and bloggers of things academical should read.

Doug's Archaeology

Conversations 5,ooo miles apart have converged in the last few days to lead me to scream at the top of my lungs, it’s the content, stupid.

Bill, on his blog, was summing up the SAA conference, which took place last week, and in his post he mentioned something that caught my attention.

“Archaeology blogging is in a maturation phase that will take a while to sort out. The archaeology blogosphere has exploded in the last five years to the point that long-time archaeology bloggers can barely keep up with all the new content. Blog posts are increasingly cited in books and archaeology articles, another indicator of their increasing legitimacy and presence. We all need to “chive on” while we wait for academia and CRM to slowly recognize the power of blogging and the value it adds to archaeological practice.“

I added the emphasis because I think this was part…

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