'A community dig is for anyone.'
Marc Frobisher is a Volunteer Archaeologist with our project, and has recently also joined the Research & Archives Group. Marc kindly answered a few questions for us about what it's like being an Oldknow Volunteer.
We began by asking Marc when he first volunteered with Revealing Oldknow's Legacy, and why.
I started volunteering on the project on 19 October 2015, the first day of the community dig on the tramway being offered by the project in conjunction with Salford University's Centre for Applied Archaeology. I came along as I had volunteered on the Mellor archaeological excavation in 2008 whilst I was living in Rochdale, so I knew this wasn't impossible to get to, plus it was another dig organised by the team at Salford, meaning that I knew the staff.
What kind of things have you been doing with the project?
I mainly attended the digs in the capacity of Volunteer Archaeologist, but since the Oldknow's Mansion dig in April of this year that I have wanted to help out a lot more - so I joined the Research & Archives Group chaired by Michelle, who meet once a month in the evening, and contributed by listening and learning to the ladies and gents with all their personal and local knowledge. As my confidence grew I was to able to offer comments and knowledge regarding the physical side of the project, and for the last dig I distributed leaflets, spoke with interested people, helped with the Twitter account, and on the Open Day I found myself talking to people about what I had been doing on the project as a whole.
What have you gained through volunteering with us?
Finding my feet, and feeling able to relate to professional archaeologists after eye-opening digs in the summers of 2014 and 2015 in particular; my insecurities were banished as I came to understand that I was a man of 49 years old, and I can relate to these archaeologists very well indeed - my lack of degree education is not a hindrance, I have masses of life experience, knowledge and humour and can hold my own in a conversation. I understand very well that a community dig is for anyone, regardless of colour, age and ability and that it is up to me as an adult to help everyone feel included and welcome with love and kindness. Some people have difficult lives and if a day on an archaeological excavation helps that person and they can leave having had a cup of tea and a biscuit, and having learned one thing, then that is the main thing.
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering for us?
Please come along and enjoy yourself - you WILL NOT be told or asked to do anything you cannot do or do not want to do. It may be scary doing something different, but being nervous and enjoying yourself is a good mix. You will have skills that are unique to you - talking or listening or explaining or drawing or cleaning or computers - and you can show and help other people to do what you find easy. You will realise that volunteering is probably the best thing you can do!