Collection expert Gabriëlle Baumann is telling us about this week's work at the Historic England conservation lab at Fort Cumberland in Porsmouth:
"Angela Middleton (Historic England), Nicole Schoute (Maritime Archaeologist) and Kimberly Roche (Project Curator) (both MSDS Marine Ltd.) showed me how to take X-ray images. The X-ray images are important, to record the condition of artefacts, to see inside concretions and estimate how many objects are contained in them. Concretion is a term to describe a hard mass that has been formed over centuries around the objects that have now been brought up. By using X-rays you can see what is trapped inside this hard crust. What special objects are hidden from the eye? In addition, this information is also used to estimate how much work and time it takes to remove these objects out of the hard substance that has protected the objects for years against the effects of oxygen and water.
After the X-ray image is taken, the answer to the question suddenly appears on the screen; what could it be?
“Sometimes a block of concretion appears to contain no object and sometimes it appears to be full of glass beads, a coin, some bullets or objects that have gone and of which only the impression remains. This time I was able to see ... a beautiful pewter jug with handle and spoons inside. Was it hanging on a rack and was it a good way to keep the spoons together? We will not know. The spoons may have been placed by someone who found his last resting place somewhere on the Goodwin Sands. His fingerprints have long since perished.”