Earthed Conversations –
What Lies Beneath: Soil specialists, geologists and archaeologists in a conversation on all things earthy.
Expert speakers: Julie Dunne, PhD Student, Bristol University, Organic Geochemistry Unit
Wesley Dixon – Structural Soils, Graduate Geotechnical Engineer
In the morning Archeologist Julie Dunne explained how Ashton Meadows formed and how archeologists look for people as well as artefacts.
“Archeology aims to dig up people as well as artefacts” she told us, as well as asking “How do buried objects define our identities?”
One of the statements that many present picked up on was the declaration that “We shape landscape, landscape creates us”
She also reminded us of the time frames that archiologists have to deal with and that the human experience is but a blip on a much larged historical landscape, “the rock below Ashton Meadows formed in warm shallow seas 350 million years ago”.
Wesley Dixon, a Geotechnical engineer then explained complex sandstone formations and the importance of different processes in creating the different colours and textures in the earth around Ashton Meadows.
People were particularly taken with the idea of an Ooid, which are formed in some limestones called the ‘Oxwich formation’. It consists of a nucleus ‘rolled back and forth’ in be various processes.
He noted that Ashton Meadows only shows trace elements of human contamination. Most samples contain mainly natural elements and components.
He also noted that pictures of dinosaurs standing on grass are all wrong! There was no grass back in the day…
Earthed works: A practical site-inspired earth sculpture workshop with land artist Mick Petts.
Earthed writes: A practical site-specific writing workshop with writer David Lane.
The Big Dig
We rolled back the turf and dug down to reveal the hidden layers of earth and time beneath the surface of the meadows.
We were also joined by Ed Drewitt for a naturist and wildlife detective public walk.