Bits and Bobs, but mostly Bobs

Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline in February.

Snowy path in the park with footprints

The Wallace monument, Stirling in silhouette against the winter sky back in March.

Wallace monument in the distance against the sky.

Some earth, or, if you prefer, a bit of the Earth from just a few cm.

Photograph of bare earth.

Thorny gooseberry with baby berries.

Branch of gooseberry bush showing thorns, flowers and baby berries.

Experimental image made with homemade RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) setup. The aim is to make indistinct details on objects clearer, here on a white 19th century clay tobacco pipe.

Enhanced photo of clay tobacco pipe showing sailing ship in storm.

A photo of a photo (negative) of me taking a photo of myself. The camera viewfinder shows a mirror image, so looking into the mirror I saw myself the right way round.

Part of a late Victorian/Edwardian electrical switch excavated along with some of the wiring in a local graveyard in 2015.

Another none too recent view from Calton Hill

Another old film developed

I have had another go at film development. This time a colour film taken some time ago on an old Yashicamat I inherited from my father-in-law. There are only 12 exposures to a film, but 6cm square, so much larger than 35mm.

My expectations for the experiment were set low, but I was pleased with the results. This image was taken from Calton Hill looking across the city of Edinburgh to the old town and castle. Edinburgh is blessed with a number of hilly vantage points. This one is steep, but well worth the effort.

I am not sure how long ago the photo was taken, but the cranes on the right have been gone for some months now.

Another photo, no longer out of time

I have looked at the rest of the film I developed the other day. This image comes before the beach scene I already posted and I actually recall taking this one. It was in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, spring last year. The lockdown had been relaxed and people were able to meet outside, in public, with a few friends or family from another household. It was a warm, spring day; my partner and I met up with our son and his partner for a picnic, carefully distanced from other folk doing the same thing. I remember it was quite exhilerating, scary even.

Snowdrops starting to appear in the garden now

A beach out of time

I finally got round to developing a couple of the films I took sometime between 2019 and 2021. I know this is the beach at Burntisland in Scotland, but that is all. There aren’t leaves on the nearest bushes - so not summer!

People on the beach at Burntisland

Head found in field!

I found a bit of a head whilst walking by a ploughed field. Poor thing.

Rather cool find in an old graveyard

Just spent a couple of days finishing off an excavation in the old burgh graveyard in Dunfermline, searching for buried gravestones. We found this one, lying flat, rather feeble inscription facing upward. Earlier stones often just carry initials, so here we probably have a husband: W.B., his wife: I.B. And their offspring R.B. Scottish married women were always recorded with their maiden name on anything official, so the second B needn’t represent the same surname as the husband’s. The first line of the inscription has clearly been executed by a competent stone mason, while the second line almost looks like a graffito.

The stone is light enough to flip, so we did, just in case there was more information on the reverse face. There wasn’t, but the top of the stone included the date 1670 and has been surprisingly well finished, presumably by the same mason who engraved the first line of initials. This is one of the oldest stones to be recovered.

A quick look at the parish records show that 1670 falls within a long gap in burial records, though it may be possible to find the family using birth records.

Why do cafes so often put a paper napkin underneath the food they bring you? Why is it thought so good to have a soggy, greasy and unusable napkin beneath one’s food? I shall cling to the hope that it is only common in the east of Scotland and unheard of elsewhere.

Wonderful February

I happened to be passing a nature reserve yesterday at lunchtime. A Nature reserve with a very good cafe (it’s called Vane Farm), so naturally I stopped and had some. To get to the cafe you have to walk through a patch of woodland that is awash with snowdrops just now.

February has been both mild and clement (except for an hour on Saturday, during which time I got soaked) here in the east of Scotland. In fact we have been having those “any-time-of-year” temperatures which could just as easily be somewhat crappy summer weather.

For an archaeologist it has been just amazing. I was working outside, in the shade, in a tee shirt last week, and only trowelling, not doing anything heavy.

Naturally we happy inhabitants of Scotland are just waiting for payment to be demanded. Where are the midges is what I want to know. It’s warm enough, damp enough, so where are they? What impending doom are they instinctively aware of that we humans cannot detect?

Snowdrops at Vane Farm

Deliberate? Surely?

book in shop window, title partially covered by price sticker to read "Pist at dawn" i stead of "Pistols at dawn"

So now we know just what stone circles are all about: archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/01/a…

Big sparrows?

** The effects of freezing fog

Some evening, freezing fog the other day had a pleasing effect on the local vegetation. Made everything black & white too.

A Melancholy Find

Looking through a secondhand book bought years ago by my father-in-law, probably in London, I found this unfinished Valentines Day card. A wartime romance coming to a melancholy end? I suppose the couple was most likely an American soldier, with artistic flare, and a British woman. I searched online for the first line of the poem and came up with nothing, so the poet and artist may well have been one and the same.
The host book was a late ‘40’s novel, though I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember the title. How the card came to be a bookmark is anyone’s guess; no one can think of any family connection and as I say, the book was secondhand.

Ritual Deposit?

We’ve found lots of evidence of drinking and smoking in Dunfermline’s old graveyard in the past: old clay tobacco pipe fragments and bits of beer bottle for example. Today I came across this, deliberately thrown over the fence into the excavation area onto a table gravestone. It’s wonderful to see such evidence of continuity of use across the centuries.

Trowels As Decoration

“Photograph us at work,” says I to a young archaeologist (she’s nine). This is what I got. Quite pleased really.

My Horse

Well, I say my horse, I’m just borrowing him really. He likes to visit schools with me. Children love horses, even skeletal ones.

Horse Skull

He’s called Henry and he was a working horse from medieval Aberdeen in Scotland. We can tell he was a he because of his wee canine teeth. He was an old fellow when he died and it appears that he was mostly recycled. There are a couple of de-fleshing, cutmarks by the eye socket and none of his other bones were found, though there were indications of glue making nearby.

The Mason’s Gravestone

This 18th century gravestone commemorates a Dunfermline mason and his wife. Not so long after it was erected, all the gravestones in the burial ground were laid flat to improve access. Then in the 1920’s it was stood up again only to fall and hide the name of the craftsman and his wife. I believe that he carved the stone himself, to show off his skill, and included these figures; the corpses of himself and his wife.