A day and a half after my return to Scotland, I departed for the Netherlands and a splendid conference. The conference was an interdisciplinary look at the place and period I’m working in. It gave me some great context for my research.
It also meant that I spent the night before in conclave with one of the archaeology students, making sure my presentation on the implications of certain linguistic features would make sense to archaeologists.
The last day of the conferences was an excursion of archaeological sites. At our first site, the archaeologist leading the tour led off thus:
“I know a lot of you are archaeologists, so you’ll be used to the way sites look where things have been found and excavated. So I won’t worry too much about showing you sites where there’s nothing to see.”
So he did. But we didn’t get out of the bus to walk around on things that weren’t there to walk around on.
The next site had a more interesting feature: a church built smack in the middle. Relevant finds in the Netherlands tend to be on mounds that raise the living structures above flood levels, which makes them attractive building sites for later periods. The mound in this particular area was partially dug up in the 19th century for the peat it contained, before the archaeologists took over and (slowly) dug up the rest.
Despite popular conception, it appears that there is at least one Dutchman who doesn’t like windmills.
Our guide expressed some regret that the diocese refused to let them dig under the church itself so they could finish their excavation. I suppose you can’t have everything.