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Friday, 28 October 2016

Experimental Archaeology in Riddy Wood

The second instalment in the student accounts of their experimental archaeology adventures in Riddy Wood;

Alex explains what they all got up to for two days;

Alex and lecturer Dr Peter Groom select flint for arrow making, Dr Groom has contributed to this blog in the past with an excellent post on experimental Archaeology

On the first night we had a quick first look around the wood but seeing as we arrived late, we had to set up our camp of tarps and a couple of tents. Some slept in hammocks but two of us slept on the woodland floor in sleeping rolls.

As it went dark on the first night we made our way to Geoff's fire to spend the evening cooking our dinner and chatting, it wasn't the best dinner during our trip though.

I woke up too early on the first morning so I warmed myself up by sawing some logs, a fire warms you three times. Pete showed me his camp and I was a little bit jealous that I didn't know how to read the woods to find a better spot. He had set up his tent next to a track which lead to him getting close to a deer.

We spent the first day in and around Riddy Wood foraging for materials to make arrows and beads for a primitive skills exercise. We found everything we needed, apart from deer legs needed for our fletching, and pine sap for glue to fix our arrowheads. I could have done better on the procurement side of things but all of the materials were there. We found flint across a freshly ploughed farmer's field, hazel in the woodland and nearly enough feathers for everyone (we ended up borrowing a pigeon wing from Geoff). After we sat around a slow burning fire, putting our arrows together and firing the clay we had found in a field to make beads, we started foraging for food to add to the food we'd brought. Crab Apples, Haw Berries and black berries went into a make shift fruit leather, we also made crisps from nettles found about 30 foot away from our fire. We sat around eating for hours, which is where it becomes apparent that there is a difference between survival and bushcraft. We were pretty much having a feast, especially when Geoff brought us a Muntjac leg to cook on the fire, and later on, during a hornet gunship attack, we cooked a rabbit.


On the final morning it didn't take long to pack up camp and to check for any litter we'd left behind before having breakfast, eggs bacon and beans. Then we were off to Flag Fen. It's easy to see how people would have lived around the area in the past, especially with a trip to one of the best Iron and Bronze age sites in the country.

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