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What to bring?; questions from a complete noob
Topic Started: Feb 10 2012, 08:48 AM (1,251 Views)
Claire_M
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Hullo

It's my first year going to Vindolanda/doing anything archaeology-related and I'm ridiculously excited. I also have no wellies.

So...bearing in mind suncream, layers, light waterproofs and comfy clothes...what sort of kit should I bring? Is there any point in forking out for 'better' wellies (ie how sturdy do I need them). Have beetled through some past threads and seen mentions of gardening/digging gloves - are these worthwhile?

Shall be travelling by self and public transport so the lighter load I've to carry, the better :D

(Did I mention I'm excited by the whole prospect?)
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katesf
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Hi Claire,

I think that wellies (sturdy ones) might be an essential item this year since we will be working in some very wet parts of the site. They are definitely essential for digging in big military ditches. Having said that the exact footwear needed does depend very much on the weather and the area that you end up working in. My advice would be to keep an eye on updates here as to what people are doing from week to week and ask the question again nearer the time to when you are due to excavate.

Also have plenty of layers of clothing to hand because it is great to be able to peel them off if you are too warm and conversely to layer up if you are feeling the chill.

I find that first time excavators definitely benefit from gloves (good gardening gloves). At the beginning of the season trowelling and spading leave my hands covered in blisters if I do not wear gloves. So definitely bring a pair of gloves.

Other than that, relax and enjoy yourself. I can't wait to get back in the trenches myself,
All the best,
Kate :)
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snowglobe
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I just bring a sturdy pair of walking boats and my normal green wellies for wet days, I normally find the weather can throw everything at you so a good mix of clothes are good, I bring a pair of kayak paddling gloves so they are padded and keep warm when wet. First time I brought gardening gloves which were fine but I threw them away at the end. The kayak gloves are good as new even after a full months digging. You get your diggers t shirt so that's one less thing to bring. Midge cream may be worth bringing if you are there in mid summer?
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Badger
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Claire

We shall be digging together.

My two pence worth.

A hat with a brim. It is difficult to read soil colors and to see small objects when you are wearing sunglasses, and the sun will shine on occasion. And on other occasions it will rain on you and you will be glad of the brim. I favor baseball caps but one of our peerless supervisors has a real Indiana Jones hat. Make your own fashion statement.

I use mechanics gloves. The have velcro to stay on better and have thin but sturdy finger tips. I have gotten four seasons out of my last pair.

Wellies are nice, I have hauled them all the way from the states a couple of times. But I find it better still to wear my round the world traveling hiking boots and just use thin rubber pull over "galoshes" to keep them clean, dry and not smeared with anaerobes.

A good lightweight rain suit is key. I wear the bottoms even on nice days. It keeps my pants from getting muddy and allows very light packing. I do the trip public transportation and with carry on luggage only, specifically a Norwegian Army surplus backpack.

Bring on the thaw....


Tim Wolter
Edited by Badger, Feb 10 2012, 12:20 PM.
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HelenG
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Hi Clare
I've had the blisters too, so I definitely recommend gardening gloves. You'll still get dirty fingernails so a nailbrush for the evenings is a good idea.
My best piece of advice though, should you be lucky enough to dig in the sunshine, is to make sure you put suncream on small of your back. When you are on your knees, engrossed with trowelling, your teeshirt can ride up and leave you with a bright red stripe of sunburn across the back. I know, I usually forget and get caught!
I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time
Happy Digging
Helen
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Malise McGuire
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Clare

If they get you pot-washing, and they probably will as it's a useful experience to get to grips with, bring a pair of rubber gloves otherwise you'll get white wrinkly hands from all the cold water! There are usually lots of pairs around the Diggers' Hut but you can never be sure who wore them last :P

Good luck

Malise
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Claire_M
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Ooh, lots of answers, thank you all. I would definitely never have thought of rubber gloves. Shall probably get myself some sturdy wellies, as I'll use them elsewhere if not at Vindolanda, and hang fire on the walking boots. Shall look into gloves too, dainty office job that I have my hands will be shreds otherwise. Must be an army surplus somewhere near me (London) for some cheap cargo pants (deliveries being somewhat problematic at my flat - all nice things to procrastinate from the studying I ought to be doing).

Nice to meet folks that will be there when I am too *waves at Badger*. Have one mate who will be there same week, *waves at mooseandhobbes* so good to meet others.
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Rhona
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It was my first time last year, I wore wellies which were fine. I didn't bring gloves and ended up going and buying some. Diggers had various glove preferences, and I think it depends a bit on what you are doing - working with heavy stones means that thick padded gloves would help, but if you were sifting through soil looking for teeny tiny things then they might make your fingers less nimble. I wore washing up gloves which were fine, but I wouldn't expect one pair to last a fortnight and I'll take gardening gloves as well next time. If you are using washing up gloves then some talcum powder is a good idea.

You'll be given a kneeling pad, but some of the experienced diggers had special builders kneepads which seemed to help - again it depends where you are digging but kneeling on stone is quite hard on your knees!

I took waterproof overtrousers and they were very helpful.

Perhaps some nice soaky-bath stuff for the end of the day?

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mooseandhobbes
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Claire_M
Feb 10 2012, 05:51 PM
*waves at mooseandhobbes*
*waves back*

Hi Claire,
you found us then? Aren't WeDiggers nice? :D

There's an army surplus place on Kentish Town Road (opposite the top of Royal College Street), which is run by the people who used to run Laurence Corner.
There's also a builders' shop at Archway (top of Holloway Road), where they sell Dickies, so you could have a look in there.
There's plenty of time anyway and I'll be there the week before you, so I can let you know if something proves vital!

TTFN
Sunny
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MissClareCharlotte
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Hi Claire!

Thanks so much for posting this thread. It's my first time digging this year too.
I was thinking today about what I'd take with me; my 'essentials' list basically consisted of: walking boots, shorts, waterproof coat & trousers, trousers, socks etc, hat, tops and a couple of jumpers.
The replies on here have been invaluable! I would never have thought of taking gloves or wellingtons. I suppose it's the little things like that that make the difference between having a hard time and a good time. So thank you, much wiser diggers than I! :D

Clare

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kaycham
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Hi Clare, as well as all the boots and clothing and stuff, another thing to consider - how fit are you? those wheelbarrows even a quarter full can be quite a load to push. Maybe some shoulder and upper arm exercises, even gentle weights up to 2kgs will help if done regularly and properly?
Regards,
Kathryn.
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Mike C
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It's not just particularly the weight of the wheel barrow load, it's also the loading & balance. Observing some of the way diggers load their barrows, it's no wonder they're worn out by the end of the first day.
My advice is, yes don't overload but also load at the front of the barrow over the wheel, that's the way barrows are designed to work, not the back or middle, that adds weight & unbalances them.
Also it's very easy when you're on your hands knees towelling to overfill your bucket, especially when you're digging something interesting, you then have to lift it & carry it to & empty it into your barrow.
To sum up:-
Load your barrow correctly.
Only have barrow & bucket loads you can easily handle.
Fit new batteries into your barrow, bucket, spade, trowel, etc. he.he.he.
Or smile sweetly & flutter your eye lids at some hunky bloke with a Glaswegian accent (Hi Kev, how you doing) He's a sucker for that & it always works for me.
Take a good sense of humour.
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Sue Munro
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To add to the digger's essential sfter-care list:

Access to a hot shower.
Industrial strength hand - cream to soften the skin on your hands (I favour Norwegian Formual from Neutrogena)
After-sun lotion with Aloe Vera - even if it isn't sunny this can be really soothing if you're in the wind all day!
Some form of after-bite cream or lotion in case the midges get you.

I spent a week pot-washing last summer after getting an injury before coming left me unable to dig. I solved the cold water washing problem by addin some warm water from the kettle to the bucket of cold and found the pot was much easier to wash. I wasn't left with washday hands either!

Enjoy!
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MissClareCharlotte
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Excellent advice just keeps coming! Thank goodness we've got you all on here.

As regards fitness - I can play a mean game of hockey and squash, but arm strength isn't that great, so I suppose I'll have to sort something out there!

Hand-cream... check.

This list is just going to get bigger and bigger, I can tell... So much for me travelling light!

Thanks, again. :)

Clare

P.S: Will only resort to fluttering eyelashes if all else fails...
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SacoHarry
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The good news is there's plenty of shops nearby for essentials. Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge can both supply most of what you'd need. And in Hexham, 15 miles or so away, there's one of those gi-normous Super TESCOs with, well, everything. The Hexham TESCO run is one of my Day Zero rituals. :)

All to say, if you've left it behind or just can't fit it into the bags, there are options!
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