A blog from Nicole Schoute, Rooswijk Archaeologist for Finds based at Fort Cumberland with Historic England:
October was a very busy month, in which Kim Roche and I finished the conservation assessment of more than 350 artefacts. All artefacts are now placed in boxes and tanks filled with fresh water that is changed a few times per month, to begin the desalination process of all the artefacts. Desalination is an important process, where the salts are washed out of the objects to stabilise them before drying.
October was also the month in which we made a lot of preparations for the specialists’ meeting, which was held on the 12th of November. During this meeting the different specialisms were discussed as well as the results so far. In order to do this the conservation assessment had to be finished, and as many x-rays as possible had to be taken. Both the assessment and the x-rays gave Kim and me a better understanding of the importance and historical value of the artefacts. We can give the specialists a detailed overview of all the artefacts and this way we can make the right decisions together over the next few months.
For the x-rays we have chosen the most dense concretions and concretions that didn’t reveal their contents on the outside. By taking x-rays, we can look through them and see voids, which show the shapes of where the iron artefacts used to be and what they looked like, but also actual artefacts that are still present. As the contents of almost every concretion were unknown, we were absolutely amazed by some of the results that we got. As expected many cannonballs, musket balls, glass beads and coins were seen in concretions, but we never would have imagined seeing a lock, a key and two pistols inside of them! Unfortunately there is only a void left of where the key used to be, but all the details of it are still visible in this.
Besides getting all the information that is needed for the specialist meeting, we have also been busy making 3D models for the Dive Trail using photogrammetry and laser scanning. Some models can be seen on the MSDS Marine Sketchfab. The Dive Trail can already be viewed here, but will undergo many changes until January when the second phase of the Dive Trail will be launched, including all the 3D models, artefact pictures, specialist interviews and Dutch translations.