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Lunchtime Lowdown

There Can Be Only One…

Shovelling is an important skill for archaeologists to gain; learning not to swivel your back, the importance of looking speedy when a supervisor passes by and the ability not to over/undershoot the barrow. Lessons in this at the Cardiff University excavation at Cosmeston lead to debates about who was the best shoveller. A debate which could only be answered with a shovel off.

If, like me, you weren’t on site, you may have followed this immense battle of skill on Twitter as it ran live from the 5-6th July.

Realising that not everyone tweets, we wanted to ensure that no one missed out on this extraordinary event. So today we present a carefully curated multimedia extravaganza of tweets, videos and photos.

In what we believe to be a world first for an archaeological excavation, Cosmeston Archaeology also presents this tale on Storify.

In the beginning, there was bad shovelling…

Tweeted questions on who was the best shoveller were answered with speed. Although there was some consensus that Sophie and Supervisor Scott were quickest, there was disension, with Rob (our resident videographer) adding supervisor Matt or Merlin Madge as strong contenders. The scene was now set for a battle of epic proportions:

The next day…rain overnight had turned the site and spoil heaps into a glutinous expanse. That, however, was not enough to put off the hardy souls of Cosmeston…

The afternoon arrived, and it was time for battle to commence…

Not all of the Twitterverse were happy with the composition of the competing group…

Us too bikeminx, us too.

Bad Andy!


The final kicked off. Competing were the best two from the previous heats. From the first round we had undergraduates John and Melvin, from the second we had senior supervisor Dr Andy and Finds co-ordinator Alice. Let battle commence!

Let Battle Commence!

It was a photo finish, with considerable debate about the amount of spoil left..

Debating the result...

In the end, however, there can be only one…

Congratulations Alice!

As victor, Alice now gets first choice on shovels, but only when she comes out of the finds tent.

Remember, If you want to ensure that in future you do not miss out on such exciting events, please follow us on twitter

+Matt Nicholas


About Matt Nicholas

Hello, my name is Matt Nicholas and I'm an archaeologist. I recently finished a PhD at Cardiff University on the analysis of early Anglo-Saxon non-ferrous metals excavated from a group of cemeteries in Suffolk. I grew up in a town called Worksop in North Nottinghamshire. With sites like Creswell Crags and Roche Abbey on my doorstep becoming an archaeologist was an occupational hazard of childhood. I was lucky enough to get my first job excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Whitby Abbey before studying for a BSc in Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford (2000-4). After my undergraduate studies I worked in commercial archaeology for a few years (in locations from Suffolk to Sudan) before studying for an MSc in the Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Material at UCL (2007-8). I then proceeded to spend two years employed at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (where I didn't stab myself with a poisoned arrow and only broke one object). I don’t like pickled beetroot. All posts, comments etc. represent my own personal musings, and are not representative of any past or current professional affiliations.


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Day of Archaeology 2011

Cosmeston contributed to Day of Archaeology 2011. Click through to see our posts!

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