Student Blogs – Jess: First Impressions & The Pottery Project

My name is Jess, and I’m a volunteer at the Scottish Crannog Centre!

I first heard about this museum in 2019, not long after I left University, but due to the unseen circumstances surrounding 2020 I was not able to travel until March of this year.

Since I studied archaeology at Leiden, in the Netherlands, I was worried that it might take me longer to properly grasp all of the information I’d need for the prehistoric and precolonial site. But as it turns out I needn’t have worried because everyone was just so knowledgeable and informative! On my very first day at the Crannog centre I was immediately made to feel totally welcome by everyone, especially by all of the apprentices who work here. I spent the day shadowing tours of the museum and outside area, as well as going on a quick and unexpected excursion to forage for wild garlic that I later prepped and froze to be used in the cooking demonstrations.


In another whirlwind adventure, I joined Rich, the resident community archaeologist, and Amy, a volunteer, on a day-trip to Edinburgh. A group of students gave small presentations of models of roundhouses that they’d made, while Rich gave a lecture on the building plans for the new site museum site at Dalerb. Amy and I will be using the different models and the students’ assignment briefs to put together a small temporary exhibit for the new visitor centre when it opens.

The adorable Grayfriars Bobby of Edinburgh


I’ve also been learning to give every part of the tour that the museum offers, including the museum itself, the iron age technologies, the textiles tent, demonstrating iron age cooking, and even doing a puppet show if there are any younger visitors on the tour!

The stone drill from the iron age technologies tent

Just a small selection of colours that iron age people would have produced


As the Crannog Centre is beginning to start on its big pottery project, we were invited to attend a ceramics conservation training day led by the completely knowledgeable Dr. Ticca Ogilvie. We were given not only a small series of lectures regarding all the basics of pottery, but also the scientific process of making, and more importantly for us, cleaning our pottery sherds. With the training and hands-on experience that we received, we will be able to help train not only other members of staff at the Crannog Centre but also any members of the public who might want to get involved!

Dr. Ticca Ogilvie demonstrating various pottery conservation techniques


Some of the days that I’ve been finding most exciting are the event days. So far we’ve celebrated celtic spring, and beltane, the celtic celebration of cleansing fires and the return of the summer season. These events are always busy and visitors come from all over the place, and for all sorts of different reasons. On days like these we’ll decorate the site with seasonal flowers and foliage to make sure that everything looks appropriately festive. There will also be extra activities prepared for visitors to get involved with, such as wire jewellery making, an interactive art installation on the beach, and hand-fasting ceremonies performed by our very own certified celebrant.

Examples of the types of ceramic and the tools that we’ll be using throughout the pottery project