Chris Ratsey, right, with Prof Mick Aston. Picture courtesy of Chris Ratsey.
NATURE NOTES The IWNHAS archaeology section was founded in 1927.
Past archaeologists include Hubert Poole, Gerald Dunning and Gerald Sherwin, all of whom were nationally known in their field.
The section has been rather busy for the past three years, since acquiring their new geo-physics equipment undertaking work in the West Wight, Robin Hill, Combley Roman Villa and, last summer, excavating at Newtown.
Next summer, excavation at the old abbey at Quarr is planned, together with Southampton University. This will have a community element, and it is hoped that other Islanders who are interested in the excellent archaeological heritage of the Island will share the experience.
The archaeology group is very active and undertakes trips to places like Cadbury and Maiden Castle; last month a group went to Oxford to visit the Ashmolean Museum, incorporating a short visit to the Rollwright stones on the its return.
Chris Ratsey is a member of the archaeology group with a special interest in flints and stone tools.
He is also adept as a grid layer; a skill gained from navigating in his sailing days. He recently had an exciting chance meeting whilst relaxing in the sun at Sennen Cove Caravan Park; who should walk past him but Prof Mick Aston — he of the multi-coloured sweaters and the Channel 4 programme Time Team.
The following day, Chris chanced on him again as he went to visit a chambered cairn nearby. The professor noticed that Chris had a map and they got talking. He was kind enough to point out some interesting sites on Chris’s map, only to find that Chris had already identified most of them! He nevertheless picked out a couple which he said were worth a visit.
As Chris was moving on the following day to Weston super Mare the professor surprised him by inviting him to a dig at nearby Sidcot. An opportunity not to be missed — it is not often that an amateur archaeologist gets the chance to work on a small dig with one of the country’s foremost experts.
So Chris duly arrived and had the most instructive and pleasant day.
He helped to find mediaeval pottery, some pigs’ teeth, and very early glass. The professor showed him the stone hand axe they had found the week before; so recently that they had not had a chance to get the stone properly identified or to determine where it had come from. Chris left with great memories of the time he had spent with the professor and the group.
The archaeology section is always happy to see new members and share its skills and knowledge. No special skills are required, just a pair of wellies, big jumpers and rain gear; and be prepared for a lot of fun and interest. See the society website (www.iwnhas.org).