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WHS Archaeologists Trowel

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1 Review

Brand: WHS / Type: Trowel

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      30.08.2011 16:49
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      An insight into the key tool needed and used by an archaeologist

      Not really a gardening tool but a professional piece of kit, an archaeologists trowel is their extended arm and most used tool on an archaeological site. It is comparable to a favourite or prized pen; each is an individual and a treasured item to its owner. Whether a beginner or expert in the field this is the trowel to have, this WHS 4 inch trowel is the classic tool used for excavation, designed by practitioners. The trowel is made by WHS who have maintained the very highest standards of craftsman-made quality for over two hundred years and they are proud to still bear the world famous 'Made in Sheffield, England' mark.

      Design

      If you didn't know any different, to look at this trowel you might assume it was a regular pointing trowel used for brickwork and you wouldn't be far off! It is a similar shape and weight to one used on a building site, however the archaeologists trowel is specially designed for excavation being a 4 inch wooden handled pointing trowel made from Beachwood. This is moulded into a smooth, polished and comfortable wooden handle that can be easily held during a full day of excavation.

      Coming off the wooden handle is the chief tool and functional piece of the trowel, the carbon steel and triangular shaped blade.This comes from a high lift gap from the handle to the blade to allow for extra knuckle clearance during excavation. The steel is approximately 2 - 3mm thick and is very hard wearing and durable. This blade is what gives archaeologists the flexibility and dexterity they need to perform accurate excavation. The trowel is both light and balanced for ease of use.

      Use

      The chief function of a trowel on an archaeological site is for hand excavation (though I have seen them put to many other uses over the years, bottle openers, lock pickers, rope cutters!). Whether it be rain or shine the strong and resilient trowel grip is perfect for excavation. Archaeologists excavate negative features such as postholes, ditches and kilns in what are called spits, often excavating the soil down in 5 - 10cm levels at a time. The smooth and sharp edges of the steel trowel blade are perfect for doing this in neat and even intervals.

      The durable handle and blade mean that you can alternate between heavy and delicate excavation methods with the same tool. Likewise tough ground conditions such as gravelly and peaty soil can be easily broken through with the strong steel edge with ease, exerting less pressure on your wrist, which is a common injury for an archaeologist. The edges of the trowel easily cut through lighter soils such as sand and allows you to create smooth and neat edges for photography purposes.

      The sharp end point of the blade is useful for smaller and more delicate features and is also useful for cleaning areas of stones and standing walls on an archaeological site as it can easily get into all the nooks and crannies. For deeper and less fragile excavation such as ditches this end can also be used to hack out large amounts of earth speedily, you simply hold the trowel with the blade pointed downwards and slave away.

      The blade has a protective lacquer coating to keep it from rusting and going blunt during use, which for most UK archaeologists is a huge bonus given our consistent wet climate.

      Finally

      The WHS trowel has been used for generations by archaeologists I know many people who have had the same trowel for years and years, some with steel blades almost worn down to nothing after years of heavy excavation and hard grafting! They are available online from archaeology websites such as pasthorizons.com for a mere £10, a bargain for such a versatile and key tool for the modern day archaeologist.

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