Q&A with site supervisor Paul Wilkinson

(Kent Archaeological Field School)

What qualities do you look for in a digger?

Care and diligence for detail. They should be aware of why they are digging, and what it is they are digging too, and be prepared to record everything as they progress.

What items of equipment would you say are essential for a novice to bring along themselves?

Their brain! Bring along your sense of smell, your sense of sight, your sense of touch — as you’re digging the soil will change: the texture, the way it looks, everything about it will change and you have to use your senses to spot this. Once it’s been removed it’s gone forever!

What things should a novice digger say to the site supervisor when first arriving at the dig?

Ask questions, question everything! Question what you’re told, and what you find, and also when you get there do some research on the site — find out what it is you’re digging, what the excavation is hoping to find, and talk to your colleagues too. Participate 100%.

What things shouldn’t a novice digger say to the site supervisor when first arriving at the dig?

There isn’t really anything you shouldn’t say within the course of work, as you shouldn’t feel intimidated by any site supervisor.

And finally: what has been your weirdest/most intriguing/favourite find?

The most intriguing find has been Anglo-Saxon graves. As you excavate them it takes you right back to that hour of burial, where nothing has been disturbed from that point in time up until the moment you uncover them.