Soggy socks and jokes about cows: a view from the field

At Lochbrow we’ve been very fortunate to have had a number of dedicated volunteers working with us, and the 2013 season was no exception. Here, archaeology student Natalia writes about her Lochbrow 2013 experience.

Day 7 group photo.

The Lochbrow team on day 7 2013. Natalia is in the bottom row, second from the left.


I am an archaeology student moving into the last year of my undergraduate degree. I learned of the Lochbrow project through one of my lecturers. Surveying is hugely relevant to my degree and as I barely had any experience in the field, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn. Even though the project had already started two days earlier, I sent an email. Three emails later I had bought tickets, was informed of what I would need to take with me, and knew I was being picked up at the other end. It was a four hour train ride over but absolutely worth it. As soon as I got there, it was clear that the group was simply a team of people there to work but also to enjoy the time in the field. We had two cottages. I shared a room in the co-directors’ cottage. We all made dinner, talked about the project and looking at  the mapped readings for hours before going to bed at a reasonable time. Got to get up early!


The north field at Lochbrow, location of the cursus, timber circle and barrows.

Over the following four days, I learned how to set grids, effectively use ropes, and most importantly to use both a magnetometer and a resistivity meter for non-destructive study of a landscape. I learned not only to press buttons and follow instructions but to actually work these things, which I thought would be impossible. And somehow by the third day, taking 50cm steps for four hours in the wind and rain while your socks get wetter and wetter inside your wellies just doesn’t seem so bad.  Instead of complaints you make jokes about cows, and accompanying the Scottish indecisive weather you find a sense of camaraderie.

The whole experience was highly educational as well as fun. It was great to see the transparency with which a well-run project can work and succeed despite the weather troubles and rather small number of workers. Chipping in for food and paying for train tickets is a small expense, especially considering accommodation and transport to and from site (and to the station and Tesco) were provided. I met some wonderful people and genuinely enjoyed every minute working and learning from them. I even made a good friend and travel buddy back to Aberdeen. If I haven’t moved away by next year’s session, I think I’ll go for seconds. Can’t wait to see the results!


Taking a break … another student volunteer, Sophia, finds an interesting place to take a break from surveying …

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