Maritime archaeology graduate and field archaeologist Csenge Markus returned to her nautical roots in the summer of '19, and joined NAS at Bristol Harbour Festival to help engage and enthuse the public in their maritime heritage. Find out what she discovered here...

It all started a few months ago when I accidentally came across an Instagram post where NAS were looking for volunteer ambassadors for events over the summer of 2019. I felt particularly excited about the opportunity, as I’m a graduate maritime archaeologist currently working as a field archaeologist. Though my job isn’t maritime focused, this felt like an inviting opportunity to return to my roots – so I immediately applied, of course! I was beyond excited – and a little bit proud too – when I received the confirmation email to say that I am in, and that they would like to have me as a NAS representative.

I joined NAS and my fellow team of volunteers at Bristol Harbour Festival. On a sunny Sunday morning, I arrived at Bristol Coach Station and headed to the Harbour Festival. I was a little bit nervous as I didn’t know what to expect, and I hadn’t even been to Bristol before! After successfully locating the NAS stand I quickly introduced myself to my teammates who were already busy engaging with the public (I sadly had to arrive a little late thanks to public transport). I put on my NAS shirt that we all had to wear (and got to keep, woohoo!)

Charlotte and Nick (a very experienced NAS volunteer) guided me through our stall, and introduced me to what the day would hold, and the sorts of ways I’d be engaging with the public. If I’m honest, I wasn’t very sure of what to expect from the event – I have always held a personal interest and fascination with archaeology, but I was a bit sceptical whether festival goers would show any interest in it – Wow, was I wrong!

We were constantly busy chatting to those who came over to learn more about our selection of artefacts, to chat about their own adventures into archaeology, or just to ask questions about the amount of maritime heritage around the world. People were genuinely shocked when learning the estimated number of wrecks lying in UK waters, and couldn’t believe such wrecks were waiting to be discovered, and the huge amount of work that goes into the recording, documentation, and conservations of shipwrecks!

Despite my initial thoughts, the crew and I found ourselves engaging with people for most of the day. The fact that many eager-to-learn kids and teens approached us, all interested in history and archaeology, made me exceptionally happy – it’s always great to meet the possible next generations of archaeologists! And it makes me very proud to feel as though I may have had a positive impact on them. The afternoon quickly went by whilst we talked all things archaeology and raised awareness of the importance of protecting wrecks and submerged landscapes. Although, it did seem more fun than work!

This experience has made me realise that the role of public outreach - and therefore our work - is crucial. So many people aren’t aware of the rich history their country has, or they believe that archaeology only belongs to the academics – but it doesn’t have to be this way! As archaeologists we should aim to involve the public in our processes, and engage them in the importance of preserving history and archaeology, after all, it’s their history and heritage. The more we all engage with the protection of our past, the easier we make it to protect for the future.

To sum up, I had an amazing day in Bristol where I got to meet like-minded people and did what I love – talk about archaeology! I am hoping that everyone who had a chat with us found the experience rather informative. I can’t wait to work with the NAS again!

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