My introduction to volunteering for BMAG started at Aston Hall where I worked as one of the Heritage Interpreters, providing guided tours for visitors alongside my fellow volunteers. I got the chance to meet and work with some lovely people who shared an interest in discovering history in an interactive way. Anyone who hasn’t been to Aston Hall is missing a treat and needs to do it now!
The attraction to Aston Hall in the first place was the discovery of its link with the English civil war and King Charles I. As big fan of his, I think he is a much-maligned character who, after all, didn’t ask to be born into royalty. I’ve never been an avid student of either history or archaeology, so have no vested interest other than self-gratification. What attracts me most to places like Aston Hall is trying to imagine myself in the situations of the people living in that environment at different moments in history – how they lived, how they worked, how they felt, how they coped with events in their lives, and so on – rather than being an observer looking at a static tableau.
The opportunity to volunteer with the PAS team at BMAG came up, and sounded as though it would fuel my interest in people and artefacts, so I applied. At interview, I was shown a small range of coins and stuff, to see how I got on with identifying them. When shown a Queen Elizabeth I coin, clearly depicting the queen’s head and a date, the best I could come up with was “Looks like an old coin to me” – so you can see why I am a desirable addition to the team.
I am probably a little behind my peers in terms of the things that I have done to date in the PAS office. I have been photographing finds and editing images for inclusion on the PAS database but need to gain more experience in identifying and recording the finds.
The strength of the PAS team at BMAG is in the people I work with, and their dedication to the job. It is an absolute pleasure to come to BMAG, not just to handle the artefacts, imagining the people and circumstances when they were used for real, but just to spend time with lovely people.
It would be hard to pick a favourite artefact so I won’t try – maybe one will come along – they all have their individual merits (yes, even the flints!). In general, I probably get most excited about things that have been worn in some way; so, brooches, buckles, clasps and the like.