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Twenty years in the dirt

1968   My career in archaeology began in my second year at secondary school. I had an interest in Ordnance Survey maps and Roman roads; as a smaller kid I loved grubbing around old castles and, particularly, Roman sites. My school sponsored me to do the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. For the "Interest" section I took up going to the nearest archeological excavation run by the Staffordshire Archaeological & Historical Society, Saturday excavations at Letocetum Bath House and Mansio, near Lichfield. I gained my Award, and contnued to volunteer every Saturday and many Sundays and weekdays during the next couple of years.


1971-76   I dug at Wall when I could, building up a good relationship wth the site director, Bert Round. Although I was available to spend more time on the site, I heard a rumour that a fit young man could be paid to dig and so I looked for an opportunity to become a digger with a big "D".

the bath-house at Wall


1976-80   I took a room in a flat in north London in the spring of 1976 with a former school friend and began volunteering with the Museum of London's Department of Urban Archaeology (MoL DUA, now MOLA). The excavations at the former General Post Office buildings in New Street (GPO75) were directed by Alan Thompson and later by Steve Roskams. Oh, muddy days!! So began four years of mud, sweat & tears. In November 1976 I gained the post of Museum Assistant, and the following April became an Archeological Site Assistant.
Other sites I worked on include:

I took a short a break from the city (April-June 78) to cover supervision of the medieval manor house excavations at Raunds, Northamptonshire. Back in the City I carried on with the digging until the spring of 1980 when my health failed.G.P.O. 1975 the London wall


1980-86   In the years that followed I turned to digging outside London. Excavations include:

By the end of the 1980s I was unable to endure the physical demands of field work. During the following years I remained a member of my local archaeological society, received the annual transactions, occasionally attended meetings, and watched the odd archaeology programme on TV. In 2018 offered my services as website co-ordinator to the Staffordshire Archaeological & Historical Society. I became a Practitioner with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists in April 2021


For more spoo about the London Years go to Hobley's Heroes. Gathering together the fragmentary scraps of paper and photos that document their lives, working on excavations across the City of London in the period 1973-1991.

The Lez Watson Inexperience

The author - Leslie (Lez) V Watson - has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
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v20.4 :: January 2021