Odds Bodkins 3

More pins please…Ok 😀

I’m back from my little jaunt, and back in the Raiders-style warehouse that is the LAARC.

raiders-of-the-lost-ark-matte-painting *

I should say, however, that most of the excavated material at the LAARC has come from better excavated and recorded contexts than anything that Indiana Jone ever went near. Much as I love it, that film should really be called ‘Looters of the Lost Ark’. Indy’s standards of archaeological practice are abysmal.

Anyway, I had a couple of plain pins this week. Here’s one. It’s nice.


And a couple of pins which were very interesting for different reasons.

Firstly we have this pin with a decorated head.


It looks really white on the screen there, and in fact it is really white.


This may be the result of burning. You might think that burnt material would be black or sooty-coloured, like burnt wood, but bone goes very white. Perhaps this was burnt in one of the very many accidental fires that would have been common in Roman London or, tantalizingly, possibly a cremation. Oooh.

Then I was presented with this beauty.


This is a complete, rather long pin (approx. 175mm) with a head decorated with grooves and cross-hatching. The finish on it is lovely.


Once the scanned image is uploaded onto the online database, viewers will be able to examine this kind of decoration up close. The scans show up all kinds of detail that it can be tricky to spot even when holding the pin itself.


We have also been discussing pins in relation to what they can actually tell us about firstly, hairdressing in Roman London and, more broadly, about pins and other artefacts as evidence for women in Roman London.

My co-volunteer Jo suggested that the pins may be multi-functional and perhaps some are not even hair pins at all, but had other functions altogether. This lead to a discussion about the size and weight of the pins, their practicality in holding up hair, pinning on hairpieces, their usefulness for scratching nit bites etc. We came to the conclusion that some experimental archaeology might be in order. Does anyone have an old  Girl’s World?

We also had a talk from Francis Grew, the Manager of the LAARC, about evidence for women in Roman London, specifically looking at just a few examples of inscriptions. Because one of these inscriptions was the tablet concerning the sale of the slave girl Fortunata (!), this also lead on to a fascinating discussion about the nature of  slavery in the ancient world, the slaves’ point of view, the notion of ‘human rights’ within such a different culture and world-view (after all, this specific tablet concerns a man who is a slave, owned by another slave, buying yet another slave!).

Top stuff. And these kinds of opportunities for discussion, reflection and enquiry are among the reasons why LAARC and Museum of London volunteering projects are considered, by volunteers, to be among the very best volunteering opportunities around. So good in fact, that one of their other ongoing projects, ‘Unearthing‘, has been shortlisted for a Collections Trust award in the category ‘Collections Practice Award’.


The winner will be announced next week, so fingers crossed that the Museum of London scoops it.



* I half-inched this image from here http://www.empireonline.com/features/cinemas-greatest-vfx-shots/p3


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.