Have just come across Ford Madox Brown's fine painting called 'Work' of 1863. It is obvious that the 'digging archaeologist' dress code has a long tradition back to the days
of the navvy. Main character shovelling earth out of a well-shored trench is
youngish man wearing 17 lacehole boots ( I now know called paras) brown corduroy
trousers, and a baggy checked shirt, with another layer beneath it. He even
has the silly hat, in this case a blue and white striped nightcap with
tassel. His mate, who wields a spade, appears to have his head wrapped in an
Indian print scarf, and is digging in his waistcoat and shirt sleeves.
There's even a dog on a piece of string providing a link thro to the
crusties. The WHS trowel and plumb bob lie in the wheel barrow nearby.
The labourer's dress would not have been out of place when I was digging on
the circuit in the mid 70s. I certainly felt then that there was a thread
between the itinerant navvies of the 18th and 19th centuries, working in
poor conditions and with even worse accommodation, and the travelling
diggers on £2 a day, no health and safety, and a semi-derelict hostel. But
perhaps I was just a romantic.
Does anyone know of any good pictures showing attire worn by other 'digging'
trades. Strong Irish link with the navvies, is this an 18th century Irish
dress code that a few digging archaeologists are keeping alive? lamentably
now diluted by European army surplus.