Consultancy Manager & Archaeologist, East Midlands
Rachael is one of our four archaeologists based in the Midlands Region. On top of this role she also is a Consultancy Manager, line managing a number of other Consultants advising East Midlands properties on a range of subjects from conservation to marketing and supporter development.
I had always known from a young age that I wanted to be an archaeologist. I remember as a very young child watching the raising of the Mary Rose on TV and thinking that’s what I want to do. I also used to explore the mud-flats of the Lincolnshire coast combing for fossils and finds as a youngest. My star find was a beautiful ammonite (I know its palaeontology and not archaeology) which I took on a special trip to the Natural History Museum for identification. The palaeontologists took me into their hidden stores and helped me to identify and learn all about my ammonite. The generosity of knowledge that was shown to me by the palaeontologists, and that sense of discovery I had, first in finding the fossil and then learning all about it has never really left me and that it why today I love to share with others my knowledge, and others peoples knowledge, about our archaeological sites and landscapes, collections and buildings and conservation.
I always feel very fortunate in that a big part of my role does involve discovery and the sharing of new and developing stories about archaeology with others. The discoveries might be related to infrastructures projects that we are undertaking, such as previously unknown Bronze/Iron Age site under a proposed new car park over at Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire or to specific research such as the house survey with are currently undertaking with MOLA archaeology at Canons Ashby.
A project that I have been involved with since my very first week at the National Trust, ten years ago, is the conservation of the Ticknall lime and brickyards at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. The lime and brick yards at Calke are one of the National Trust’s hidden gems. As you venture through the lime-yards, now largely reclaimed by nature you can glimpse the once rich industrial past of the Calke Estate. Over the last ten years we have surveyed, recorded, understood and shared the stories of this once industrial site. Lime-burning at Ticknall has taken place since the 14th century with the lime used for both building and agriculture. The height of the industry was in the later 18th and early 19th century when there were 13 lime-extraction and burning yards, a brick making yard and a horse drawn tramway that linked Ticknall with the wider East Midlands canal network.
Over the last ten years I have worked with the team at Calke to conserve, stabilise and interpret what remains of the built structures within the lime and brick yards such as the kilns, tramway and explosive stores. The lime-yards conservation project has been all about finding conservation solutions that care for and enhance both the historic and natural environments. Over this last year we have completed the stabilisation of the leat. The leat would have once been used to transport away from site the water that had been pumped out of the quarries to enable extraction. Later this year, we will be working alongside our ecological colleagues as they look to reintroduce the Grizzled Skipper butterfly back into the lime-yards.