Tuesday, 1 July 2014

All I learned about Archaeology I learned from my postman.

That sounds a bit off the wall, I admit, but it's true. When I first came to England to live I discovered I loved gardening and as a result of my efforts I unearthed some forgotten treasures of other times. I didn't know much about the shards of pottery and pieces of bottles that I found but tried to do a little research on line and got thoroughly confused. There is a lot of information out there and being a total novice I was a bit overwhelmed.

Victorian pudding bowl
One day, I asked my husband about a few things I had dug up with the weeds and he told me I should ask Les as he was an archaeologist. The history nerd in me sat up and paid attention when I discovered Les was an amateur archaeologist and I was fascinated. The house we lived in when I moved here had origins back to the 1200s so it made sense to be finding items from hundreds of years ago. It never ceased to amaze me that these odds and ends were scattered about the garden. I used to go on treasure hunts looking for things in the flower beds. I had quite a collection including nearly complete Tudor bottles, a Victorian pudding bowl and hundreds of pieces of the gardener's pipe. You know, those long white pipes they smoked way back when. Les knew as much about the history of the house as my husband, the restorer. I learned a great deal about the house from them both, but it was inevitably Les that gave names and eras to things I had found. He became elevated to supreme postman in my eyes, not only did he bring me letters, he identified my finds.

Tudor pottery shards and bits of pipe
Of course what I longed to find was something written. A diary would have been the find of a lifetime for me, but as the house had burnt down at one time, I didn't think that dream would be realized. Still, I searched and Les identified. He took things to a museum in London on occasion to be dated and that was always thrilling. There were pieces of those big black cooking pots from the dark ages, things so old it's hard to conceive of such periods in time. When I heard what these burnt little bits of pottery were I just held them in my hands staring at them in awe.

In the end, Les retired from the post office and we downsized to a more manageable size house. We live in a Georgian house now and are beginning to uncover the hidden history of the former occupants which is intriguing as it unfolds. We've found little pieces of the past in our house as well as in the little gardener's cottage cum stable at the top of the garden. And you know what? Guess who we bumped into when we went to the market in Wales? Our friend Les, happily selling antique coins. So, the quest for history continues, with the all knowing Les to shed insight.

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