In July of 1997 we were allowed two days’ access to a recently abandoned council house; the project started from an idea of exploring the theme of alienation from a dual perspective of the material culture of a marginalised and socially disenfranchised person or family in the late twentieth century and the process of marginalisation and alienation that we, as archaeologists, effect on the people we study – whether now or two thousand years ago. This latter issue will not be directly addressed, but it is inherent in everything we will discuss, as we both were constantly provoked into thinking about our presence in that house, and what our reactions were to the material culture in which we were immersed. We hope something of this will come out in our discussion, however obliquely.