Eleven archaeology students left campus early on a Sunday morning, bound for the Hist. Arch. Field School at Port MacDonnell. Seven very long hours later, we arrived and settled in for our first night. Surprisingly, the whole class was ready and waiting to begin long before the agreed meeting time the next morning! Our first task was to survey and record the extensive glass and ceramic scatters across the cliff at the site of the old lighthouse.
Our group spent one and a half blissful days at Transect A (for ‘Awesome’) enjoying a spectacular view on the west side of the cliff. We set about recording each artefact in our sample, a task we embraced as we employed an ingenious labelling system that allowed us to give each artefact a numerical title, followed by a letter of the alphabet to separate it from the other countless sherds of non-diagnostic glass in the quadrat. Transect Awesome well and truly lived up to its name and we left it with fond memories (and many photos).
We then set up Transect B (rather hopefully named ‘Brilliant’) and once again employed our ingenious labelling system. However, almost two hours later we had barely progressed a third of the way through our first quadrat. The problem was quickly identified – our fantastic labelling system, which worked so well at Transect Awesome, had failed us on the north side of the cliff where the artefact scatters were far denser. We learnt a very valuable lesson at Port MacDonnell, always re-evaluate your labelling system when you move to a different part of the site – unless, of course, you want to spend numerous hours working at a snail’s pace and thoroughly confusing yourself in the process!