Life on Site
Come the end of June, a field on the outskirts of the small West Norfolk village of Sedgeford is transformed into home for the SHARP project. The grass in Boneyard is mowed and mobile cabins, toilets, showers, and kitchen units move in. The main marquee gets erected and the site is ready to accept volunteers and students from around the globe.
So what is life in the field like? Our working week runs from Sunday to Friday and our daily timetable looks like this:
07.30 – Breakfast
08.20 – Morning briefing
08.30 – Work starts
10.30- 10.45 – Morning break
10.45 – Work
12.30-13.30 – Lunch
13.30-15.10 - Work
15.10-15.30 – Afternoon break
15.30 – Work
17.00 – Work finishes
18.00 – Dinner
There is a strict overnight curfew on site that does get enforced! Noise levels are expected to simmer down at 10.30 p.m. and there should be absolute silence on site from 11.00 p.m. This continues until the generator starts in the morning at 07.00 a.m. Not a word, not a whisper, not on the site or on the tracks. It’s a hanging offence! We do have a party tent in the Chalk Pit, the only place where sounds don’t bounce around the valley, for those with the energy who are not content to retire at 11.00 p.m....
From our kitchen, the catering team produce a fortifying breakfast of porridge, cereals, toast, fruit and yogurt, a nourishing lunch of soup, sandwiches and salads, and a wholesome hot dinner with dessert. That’s every day for six weeks for up to 75 people. Naturally they do require a little help with the clearing up and people who are not on courses will be asked to take a turn with this.
The toilets and showers are situated a short distance down a track, away from the main site. The track can get very muddy when it rains so it pays to bring those wellies! The only electricity on site comes from a generator, which runs power to the kitchen and the Marquee, so a torch for any late visits to the toilet is a must too! It will also come in handy when returning from the pub.
In addition to Boneyard Field, SHARP has the use of Sedgeford Old Village Hall (by kind permission of the Campbell Family) which houses our archives. Here we have a landline (contributions expected if you need to use this). There is also a washing machine and tumble dryer that can be used if you are on a long stay or have a disaster (like a leaking tent). Contributions towards the cost of running these are also welcome. Access to the Old Village Hall is only permitted when a supervisor is present.
As you can see from the timetable, our working day finishes at 17.00 and we try and arrange a variety of activities for your evening entertainment. The entertainment schedule usually runs something like this:
Saturday: We lay on a BBQ after your induction site tour where you can get to know everyone.
Sunday: A film shown in the main marquee.
Monday: An ultra-competitive team quiz for incredible prizes and trophies...
Tuesday: During our excavation season we run a series of lectures at St. Mary’s Church, Sedgeford, which feature a range of stimulating speakers on both local and more general archaeological and historical themes.
Wednesday: A 'night off' with activities depending on the weather. A trip to a nearby beach, football in the local park or a trip out to the cinema to catch a film are all possibilities.
Thursday: We normally hold a site discussion meeting. This usually covers an update on a specific area of the project’s work and research, and the chance for everyone to discuss and contribute to SHARP's research direction.
Friday: The final night of the week is reserved for an entertainment evening. This will usually feature some music and general relaxation.
Although Boneyard Field is our home for the summer, we are all its guests. As such, keeping the site and adjoining areas tidy and free from litter is of paramount importance. Importantly, the site itself is in a field surrounded by woodlands and open countryside. We have people camping in tents, so we have a strict policy on smoking and open flames. There is a designated area on the site where smoking is permitted but elsewhere (including inside of tents) it’s a no-no. Likewise naked flames of all types are not allowed on site.
Life on site is a very relaxing and stimulating experience. SHARP people come from the other side of the world and from around the corner. From all ages and from all backgrounds. In fact, people just like you...