Volunteers’ Week: Thank you Devon Volunteers!

I have been very lucky with all the wonderful volunteers who have helped me since taking on the Devon role. They all have brilliant skills and all have contributed hugely to the success of PAS in the county. Whether it’s going through bags of flint, poring over photos, recording objects or editing images, thank you all of you. 

I am very fortunate to have Julia Hopkin currently volunteering with me. To celebrate National Volunteering Week, I’ve asked her a couple of questions about her love for archaeology and favourite finds. 

What sparked your interest in archaeology?

I was lucky to have access to fantastic books and museums that made me love archaeology when I was young, and I’ll never forget the excitement of finding a complete 17th century pipe bowl when I was 12 and taking it to show my local museum. While I’ve been studying, I’ve kept coming back to archaeology – I love that you’re always learning. My recent studies in experimental archaeology, as well as being lots of fun, have fundamentally changed how I view the past, inspired me to continue researching from as many angles as possible, and encouraged me to focus on engaging the public in heritage – and working with PAS is a great opportunity for doing both!

What do you enjoy most about working with PAS?

I love being able to work hands-on with finds, and my favourite thing about PAS finds is that many of them are small, everyday items. Coins and buttons and bits of cooking pot are often overlooked, but were still important for the people who used them, and they can tell us so much about people’s lives. It’s also great to know that I’m helping members of the public get involved in archaeology – metal detectorists and local finders make such an important contribution to the archaeological record, and there’s something very special about recording their finds.

What’s your favourite object you’ve recorded?

Earlier in the year I recorded a Roman folding knife with an openwork handle shaped like a hunting dog chasing a hare (DEV-8DA53D). It’s a really lovely piece of work, and I should think it was very special to its owner – although it was a tricky object to describe for the database! I’ve always loved that the Romans had folding knives after seeing one in a museum years ago, and seeing one ‘in the wild’ was very exciting, especially such a beautiful example.

What do you hope to do with the experiences you’ve gained?

I hope to continue my career in archaeology, and working with PAS has given me a fantastic range of experiences and skills. It’s made me realize how much I’d love to continue doing finds work, either through PAS, commercial archaeology, or museums, and my new artefact description skills will be invaluable for experimental research as well. I really can’t thank PAS enough for the opportunity!

Thank you Julia!

Julia is too modest to mention this, but she is incredibly talented at making reconstructions of fabrics and other items. You can explore her marvellous creations by searching for wanderingweft on Facebook or Instagram. Give her a follow!