In January Brecon Beacons YAC had a finds processing session using the finds from our visit to the excavations at Llangynidr Mill last year, where we all got our hands dirty. After a short introduction to the session we would be able to get cracking. By way of introduction we had a look at some of the different things we might come across in our finds trays such as pottery, glass, metal, plaster and bone and how we should deal with each one.
We then split up into groups of four and went to our own finds tray and started to examine and sort the finds. Washing and brushing was soon underway with plenty of ideas as to what the finds were. Some were easy to identify like a shoe buckle or a piece of window glass but some of the metal work was so bent and rusted that our enthusiastic teams were still brushing away when it was time to begin cataloguing.
Someone was volunteered to do the writing while the rest of the team got thinking. How do we describe this find? How big is it and what colour and what is the material…and many more questions thrown at the teams who coped very well. Everyone was glad when it was time for a refreshment break (but some were late for the break because they were still busy!). It was easy to see that this session was proving to be very popular. Getting your hands on real finds from a real dig was getting the thinking cells going all around the room.
After our refreshment break we got down to drawing and photographing. We asked the members to draw their chosen find to scale. Just a little help needed for this but everyone got on well. Drawing carried on and we had some fantastic work with great care taken with scale and accuracy.
We set up a lighting box to photograph small finds and coped with the larger items by using just a sheet of white paper and a scale. The members took all the photos themselves.
We finished up with nearly everyone gathering to discuss the session and try to put together the story of the mill site by looking at the finds. I say nearly all of us because some of the budding illustrators could not be dragged away from their work. We had a few other finds from the mill dig with us like a chunk of French burr millstone and bones which may have been from a period when the mill was making bone meal.
The interest and standard of work was tremendous and we can fairly say that this was a session enjoyed by all. We have some great photographs and drawings to show off and everyone has a much better idea now of what happens when the digging is done.