The Real Archaeologists Packing List

Archaeology and History, Fun, General, Sophie

Tomorrow, I’m off to Kent to partake in an archaeological dig and for the past forty-eight hours I’ve been packing and preparing like a maniac. But, lo and behold, the packing list is nowhere near as cool as what you’d expect. We don’t have to pack a whip like Jones, or a pistol like Croft. These things aren’t even on the recommended lists given to us. Instead the reality is far more average.

Equipment is one of the most important things. You need to make sure you have everything you could need as, with the exception of Richard III’s grave, there isn’t going to be a supermarket you can just pop into for supplies. If you miss an essential, you’re in doom. The temple of doom. And you’ll be in big trouble.

You’re going to need bandages. Not because they’re useful for when you get a poison blow-dart shot at your neck (although they probably are) but because there’s a chance you’ll cut your toe off with a mattock. Probably equally as painful, but nowhere near as exciting. These are an essential part of any packing list, with a basic first aid kit for any cuts and bruises, though most of them will only come from the rocks you accidentally hit with your hand and not from sword-fighting with a mobster.

Along similar lines hand cream is one of my essential items, and often if I don’t make a reminder I don’t remember to pack it. Archaeology is manual labour almost all the times and your hands get used constantly. Hand cream, I promise, will save you from a lot of woes.

And while we’re still on the subject of pharmaceuticals, if you’re a woman I urge you to bring some feminine hygiene. Myself, and my sister, can firmly tell you that there is nothing worse than being stuck on a trip with nothing to help. Even if you’re nowhere near that time of month, take some anyway. Just to be safe.

You’re going to want to bring a tent. It’s really only in the movies that the archaeologist get luxury accommodation in a fancy hotel or prince’s palace, and tents aren’t provided for you. You’re lucky if you have the money for a caravan or a room, but generally, a four-man tent for one person is as far as luxury goes.


Also, if you’re going by car and not by public transport I urge you to pack your car with an air mattress, pillows and a duvet. You’re going to be pleased to have a little bit of home and comfort with you after the first couple of nights.

In your tent it’s going to be cold and, if you’re in Britain, it’s probably going to be wet too as it WILL rain and you WILL have to work in it. Pack appropriate clothes. I know, a cagoule is nowhere near as cool as Indiana Jones’ jacket, but you’re going to be grateful. You can have his hat though. You are working outside, after-all and you need to protect your head.

Also, make sure you have more appropriate clothes. I love fashion, and my wardrobe was not prepared for a week in the trenches. Yes, that means basic tee-shirts and shorts, not flashy ball-gowns or beaded dresses. Here’s to looking at you, Willie.


After that, you’ll want to pack a couple of books. Between the hours of six and midnight you’ll need to kill some time and you’ll be on a site with, most likely, zero wifi and nowhere to charge your tablet. Your survival skills will really kick in and, as a general rule, casual human sacrifices are frowned upon. I suggest you bring your favourite book so you don’t mind reading it a few times if need be, and one boring book for if you can’t sleep. Or, make it a community affair and bring ancient plays for your peers to perform.


You’re also going to want a notebook. Why? It’s not because you’re going to want to want to write down all of your epic adventures, but because you’ll want to remember the weather, your co-ordinates and more statistics, and the best way to remember is to write it down. You could write about your adventures, of course, but you will just be writing about how deep your trench is.

More miscellaneous items include loose change and money. Sometimes you need to buy a few things, a bus fare into the village or the fee for laundry and you’re going to want to pay using loose change. You don’t need to bring a gold-bar to bribe bandits with, and you don’t want to be the idiot who has to break in a twenty.

Lastly, you should probably bring some crockery and cutlery, unless the dig has specifically mentioned that they’ll supply it. There’s nothing more barbaric than having to tuck into monkey-skulls without the proper utensils. I’m joking. There are no monkey skulls, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure they’re hardy pieces, metal or plastic, so that they don’t break.


These are, perhaps, the bare-bone essentials of any archaeological dig and it’s any surprise, really that Indiana Jones actually managed for so long. Sure, it’s not as cool as anything he had, but at least you’ll be comfortable.

Note: Whips and pistols are optional.


Result’s Day: The Things I’ve Learned From Failing High School. 

2015, A Quick Word, Evie

Tomorrow/today (depending on which side of midnight you’re reading this) is quite possibly the most dreaded day of the entire year. For many teenagers across the UK at least, as they all arrive at the place they’re all hoping to escape from; High School. It’s result’s day, and they are all going to collect their A-Levels, and then it’s time for the GCSE lot next week.

Both are exceptionally difficult.

For many, gathering at their school with awful, clinical walls and awful dress-codes and awful cafeteria food, it will be their last time there, and they never have to step foot into the place ever again. They’ll open up these little brown envelopes of unimaginable authority, and it will be good for them. They achieved their target grades, or better, and got into their Sixth Form or university of their choice (or choices, or just the single one that accepted them, it doesn’t matter). They get to say a great big “goodbye” to all of the awful things mentioned above and move on with their lives. And are about to embark on the next big adventure, whatever it is.

If you are one of them: congratulations! You worked hard and you rock!

For some it will be the exact opposite of all of this. Perhaps they will open the scariest letter they will ever encounter (other than debt collection bills, look forward to that!), and what is inside will be the last thing they wanted to see. Perhaps their grades will be decent but not what the universities wanted. Perhaps their grades were just…. “Bad”. And now they don’t get to embark on their next big adventure as planned. And they are going to have to return to the awful clinical walls and awful dress-codes and awful cafeteria food…

If you are one of them: YOU WORKED HARD AND YOU ROCK!

You should all be proud of yourselves no matter what your results say.

But there is more to say….
Okay. Let’s be honest; the grades you received weren’t the best, or what you expected, and quite possibly don’t even match up to your vast potential. And now you have to re-sit exams or even re-sit an entire academic year in order to pick yourself back up and move forward.

And let’s be honest…. That feeling kind of sucks.

But it’s okay. Here’s why:

If you are in GCSE and you failed to get your required grades in either of the compulsory subjects (English, Science and Maths), it’s okay! Colleges and Sixth Form offer extra classes and re-sit exams in order for you to carry on with further study. It’s not the end of the world, and you can figure out exactly what you need to do to improve.

If you’re in A-Levels and you didn’t get the grades you needed or desired… IT’S OKAY! If you got lower grades than you thought but still managed to get into university, the grades don’t even matter anymore! And good luck in the next step! If you didn’t, you are going to have to re-sit whole subjects and classes and an entire other year in order to re-claim your grades and improve. But it is not the end of the world.

Just a set back. And that’s all.

Trust me. I’ve been in exactly the same place.
So…. It’s results day. Here is exactly what you need to get yourself prepared for:

1) Lot’s of crying.

It’s totally okay for you to open the envelope and squeal with excitement. It’s totally okay for you to cry tears of happiness at how well you’ve done. And it’s totally okay for you to scream in frustration or sob with disappointment. Everyone in the entire room has gone through emotional turmoil during the exam period, and emotional torture in anticipation for this day. And now all of you are entitled to let it all out no matter how you are feeling. The moment is yours, do not pay attention to anybody else. Do not compare yourself to anyone else.

If you passed, you worked incredibly hard and you achieved everything you wanted to. Now you can start planning your future and excitedly discuss with peers how you are going to decorate your student accommodation and swat up on all of the best places to visit in your new town/city/country. You have the right to this, you’ve deserved it after all…. But be wise about who you talk to about your excitement. Perhaps a friend missed out on getting the same opportunity and are feeling down about it, so perhaps they don’t want to hear anything about it for now. Be sympathetic.

The same goes in the opposite situation. Offer congratulations!

For those of you that passed, this is it. Your journey through A-Levels has ended and now you can forget about the whole thing and go home to celebrate. For those that didn’t, here is the next step and what to expect:

2) Letting it all out.

Maybe you need to lock yourself in your room and cry until you can cry no more. Maybe you need to take a long walk to clear your head of any negative feelings and think about your next approach. Maybe you need to go to the gym, or write or talk to someone… Whatever it is. Do it. For now this is all about yourself and letting yourself come to terms with all that’s just happened. Take as much time as you need and, once finished, move on.

3) Clearing options.

Chances are, after results across the UK have been put out, universities are going to need to fill the spaces left on their courses. And this is where they advertise themselves on the clearing sections of UCAS. Look through all of the universities, and see if there are any within your UCAS point score who will take you in. There will be a lot of places with the same course open as your desired field but also keep your options open. Some courses can be rather niche.

If you find somewhere you like dedicate some time to finding out some information about the place and make a short list of all the reasons as to why you want to attend the university/course. And then it’s onto the daunting part: phoning up. After the rejection experienced not long ago it’s going to take a lot of courage to push yourself out there again, but be courageous. Over the phone you’re going to have to sell yourself a bit, so make sure you speak clearly, cohesively and sound enthusiastic. And see what happens… Try this as many times as you wish with as many different places or courses as you want.

If you still can’t find anywhere….

4) Contact schools and colleges and find out what your options are.

The first step would be arranging a meeting with your head of sixth form in order to discuss what your results were and see what needs to improved upon. Perhaps it was the exams, perhaps the coursework. They’ll be able to set a clear idea of what you can do to raise your grade when you come  for another year, including extra-curricular activities that will earn you UCAS points.

If the idea of returning to your college/sixth form seems totally unappealing, take the same approach you just adopted to clearing and contact multiple schools about coming in to study. If a sixth form won’t let you come in, a college most definitely will. And remember, while you are in a desperate situation you still need to choose a place that feels right for you.
And the final step applies for everyone:


No matter what results you’ve received, and no matter what path you are now travelling down, you should all finally have a clear idea of exactly what your next part of your academic career is going to look like. And you should all be extremely proud of yourself. Those of you moving onto A-Levels and even higher education should be proud of all you’ve achieved. Those of you who are not should be vastly proud of dealing with rejection, staying optimistic and overcoming the toughest adversity you have faced yet. Those are all amazing strengths within yourself to have discovered.

As the next academic year looms ahead, whatever is ahead, of you, you are going to need unlimited determination and focus and ambition. Use the rest of the summer to totally live it up; spend time with family and friends, travel, and just…. Live.

But the  most important thing is to look forward to every single thing that comes your way, because there are going to be so many opportunities to discover exactly who you are, unleash your passions and perhaps just maybe be pleasantly surprised by the experience. And remember that just because you “failed” your grades does not mean that you are failing at life. An education system is never a true reflection of how creative, intelligent, beautiful, incredible people you all are!

“It’s all divine synchronicity”.