Young Archaeologist of the Year 2017: Introducing Roisin
Roisin (Rosie) O'Toole is only 12 years old, but she's already worked on lots of different archaeological sites and has a huge range of digging and site experience.
Rosie's archaeology adventures include: working on the River Thames foreshore in London; excavating Anglo-Saxon burials at Lindisfarne in Northumberland; and investigating the archaeological mysteries of Elmswell Farm in East Yorkshire.
Roisin is one of four shortlisted nominees for the 2017 Young Archaeologist of the Year Award. The Award is one of the Marsh Archaeology Awards, organised by the Council for British Archaeology and the Marsh Christian Trust.
It started aged 7...
Rosie has been certain that she will be an archaeologist since a visit to Dig in York at the age of 7! Since then, she has been keen to take every opportunity to learn and gain archaeological experience. Rosie is a member of both Aylesbury YAC and Chiltern YAC, and regularly attends meetings of both clubs. She has also attended the training excavations of the Central Southern England YAC for the past two years too!
Rosie is a Young Friend of the British Museum and attends their exhibition-themed sleepovers which offer a great opportunity to learn about history around the world. She has also been keen to attend activities and exhibitions at other sites and museums from dressing up as a Tudor officer on a Golden Hinde sleepover, to visiting Vindolanda, where she is keen to volunteer when she is old enough. Rosie even chose her secondary school in order to be able to study Latin and classics!
Digging and diaries!
It can be very challenging to find digging opportunities when you are young, but that has not stopped Rosie. She won a day at Leiston Abbey through the YAC Dig It! competition in 2014 working alongside the archaeologists from DigVentures.
DigVentures experience days have been her gifts of choice since, supporting the funding of the archaeology with her presents. She has shared her love with the whole family; her mum, dad and sister have all dug with her, and her grandparents and cousins follow her activities through the Facebook posts from DigVentures!
So far Rosie's archaeological adventures have added up to a total of 32 days of fieldwork on 10 different sites covering prehistory, medieval, Tudor, Roman and Saxon periods. The students at Lindisfarne were amazed that she had completed more days of digging than many of them!
2017 has been Rosie's busiest dig year yet. She was particularly pleased to be signed off as 'competent' in excavation of a skeleton this summer in her British Archaeological Jobs Resource (BAJR) Skills Passport. She has also achieved the required four signatures for her trowelling and stratigraphic excavation skills, and has got signatures for nine other skill areas too. Rosie has successfully prepared samples by herself and completed site photography and learned how to record the site using the Digital Dig Team application. She wet sieved her samples on Lindisfarne, and learnt how to identify human and animal bones.
Lauren Nofi, Assistant Community Archaeologist at DigVentures told YAC:
"Rosie joined us at Lindisfarne this summer in our search for Anglo-Saxon monastic structures constructed before the Viking raids of the late eighth century. She integrated seamlessly into a group of participants many years her senior, and was even able to share what she had learned on other digs (much to her trench-neighbours’ delight). Because we had worked with Rosie before, at sites like Leiston Abbey and our first excavation on Lindisfarne last year, we knew we could trust her with one of our most delicate tasks: excavating an articulated skeleton. She undertook her assignment, as always, with an enthusiasm and a thoughtfulness I had not encountered among the young archaeologists with whom I have previously worked. In addition, she hosted a short video segment about the skeleton she was excavating, effortlessly describing the process in a friendly and accessible manner. She interacted with the public passers-by happily explaining what she was doing, and representing the project so positively, showing that archaeology truly is for everyone."
You can see Rosie's video at the bottom of the page.
Rosie is keeping site diaries and photos for each dig that she attends. She shares her adventures at school and encourages other children to join their local YAC club. In June 2017, Rosie wrote a blog for the YAC website about her 2 days working with the "Tadpoles" (part of the Thames Discovery Project) on the River Thames foreshore in London.
Rosie may only have just turned 12, but she is an enthusiastic and experienced archaeologist and takes every opportunity she can find to learn and share her passion.
Roisin was highly commended in the 2017 Award. Congratulations!