Love Archaeology Magazine 1
Meet the Team... Adrián Maldonado,
Design and Production Editor
Meet the Team
Seumas is our Token Anthropologist,
Christy is a graphic Designer with a
Pictish nerd, Adrián is as surprised as
love for bright, shiny things, and taking
you are that this magazine has come
Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill on
the people of rural S. Lousiana.
Digital Design Manager
Dave is an architect specialising in
Jen specialises in the Archaeology of
building conservation and restoration.
conﬂict archaeology, and is master of
conﬂict and violence, which often leaves
He once dreamt that he was a building.
Archaeology Berserkergang, specialising
her feeling conﬂicted and violent.
pretty pictures of old stuff.
Design and Production focuses
Copy Editor /Gear
Becca is a caffeine-addicted, henge-
Terence’s PhD is on WWII air wrecks.
Paul Edward Montgomery Copy Editor Paul is interested in Vikings and public archaeology. Oh, and bears.
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Amanda’s PhD is on Crusader castles.
She enjoys long walks on the beach
boggiest and most remote places in
(i.e.her sites) & spotting A-listers in posh
Material culture for an immaterial world Editorial
Where do we come from? Where are we going? What’s that coming over the hill?! Here at Love Archaeology Magazine, we do not shy away from the big questions. Issue 3 marks our third foray outside our comfortable academic bubbles and into the wilds beyond. How long can we get away with this colossal waste of time? Tune in to Issue 4 to find out! That is, of course, if any of us survive the Mayan Apocalypse. For any residents of The Future who are reading this, congratulations on not being eaten by zombies/chosen for the rapture/engulfed by the CERN black hole/killed by the Bond villain evil plot that actually worked/consumed in the flames of the comet strike that totally happened even though we sent Bruce Willis to nuke it in the face. As archaeologists, we are used to unearthing unspeakable ancient evils and endangering humanity by our overreaching quest for knowledge. Therefore, we are uniquely well placed to study the
myths and monsters which are common to every culture. In this issue, we do not intend to dwell on the inevitable end, but prepare you for your inescapable role as lore-keeper/past-rememberer in the post-comfortable period to come. This issue deals with the fictions we invent to persuade ourselves that life has order and direction, and no, we don’t mean history. Unusually for archaeologists, this issue focuses on our immaterial culture. What do we modern people do now that we have the world at our fingertips? Pretend it doesn’t exist and play Skyrim or go LARPing instead. What do mythcrafters Tolkien, Pratchett and Lovecraft have in common? A mastery for creating imaginary realms inspired by the detritus of antiquity. All this plus the usual interviews, reviews and trenchside tales. Join us once more and let us teach you how to see the archaeology in everything. And not a single mention of Indiana Jones! Ah, shit.
The Love Archaeology team Now seeking content for Issue 4: The Sex Issue! Hit us with your best ideas at email@example.com Become a follower @LoveArchaeology Put us on your wall at facebook.com/LoveArch Daily archaeology action at lovearchmag.tumblr.com
Love Archaeology Magazine 3 ©mylittleCthulu
Meet the Team
3 Editorial 6
Cabinet of Curiosities
Farewell to 2012
11 Scientific Sandbox 12 2012: Year of Early Medieval Britain
18 Fashion Ramblings 22 Advice from the Ancients 23 Viking Man: review of the Manx Museum
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24 Speculum Fantasia: Middle-Earth As Mirror For Medieval Europe 28 Imagined Heritage 30 Lovecraft Archaeology 34 The Archaeology of Skyrim 39 Living Fantasy p41
41 ‘Let Other Pens Dwell On Guilt And Misery’ 44 Neo-Neolithic: the archaeology of contemporary henges 48 Restoring a ruin: The gothic chapel 53 Careers in Ruins 56 The Backfill
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PORN CONFERENCE The speakers have been announced for a titillating interdisciplinary conference at the University of Warwick in April 10-12, 2013, entitled Erotica, Pornography and the Obscene in Europe. Presenters from a variety of research areas will explore sex and sexuality in Europe from 1600 to 1900. [See also Stuart Campbell’s discussion of an erotic artefact on p.] You have until March to register at their website. Kudos to attendees that manage to not giggle during the proceedings. WHERE THE HOBBITSES ARE When the Lord of the Rings films were made over a decade ago, the hobbit houses of Hobbiton were constructed with temporary materials at the request of the landowner upon which the scenery was located [See our article on p28.] This time around, at the request of the landowner (who changed his mind), they’ve created a permanent Hobbiton that fans will be able to visit. Plan your hobbit hols now! QUALITY TIME-WASTING Gaming giant Bethesda are expanding their highly successful Elder Scrolls franchise with the Elder Scrolls Online, a new MMORPG, the release date for which is a tantalisingly vague ‘2013’.
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The game is set 1000 years before Skyrim, so get your mage on, while paying attention to the changing material culture. As long as we all survive the Maya Apocalypse, obvs. [See our article on the virtual material culture of Skyrim on p.34] MONSTER MASHING Medusa’s Gaze and Vampire’s Bite: The Science of Monsters (2012: Scribner) by science journalist Matt Kaplan provides a scientific explanation for everything from vampires to zombies to dragons, and pulls back the curtain on Minotaur’s maze and Merlin’s magic. This empirical approach is not always convincing, but is itself a great example of the timeless desire to explain the world around us. [See our piece on Tolkien’s myth-craft on p.24] FOOD ARCHAEOLOGY Ever wondered what an extinct species would taste like? Now’s your last chance to eat the archaeology without getting kicked out of the museum. Hostess Brands, makers of American pseudo-foods since 1930, have officially ceased to be, and the last-ever shipment of Twinkies (‘cream’ filled ‘cakes’, in the loosest sense of both words) hit stores this month. [See our blog]
Cabinet of Curiosities Stuart Campbell, Treasure Trove Unit, Edinburgh
© Crown Copyright
ne of the advantages in dealing with chance finds is that objects, and categories of objects, can appear rather unexpectedly. Recently the treasure trove system has been swamped in a tsunami of filth, its staff gazing in horrified fascination at obscene objects of an increasingly depraved and inventive nature. A notable example is this pipe tamper of a man in a state of strenuous arousal, clad solely in a top hat. The type of hat, known as a beaver, dates the tamper to 1800-10. When we ask when and where such objects would be acceptable (and conversely, where they would offend) we can start to answer questions about contemporary society. Intriguingly, many of these objects are snuff spoons and pipe tampers, evoking a world of exclusively male sociability. There is considerable evidence that obscene objects could serve other functions beyond obvious ribaldry, their limited social acceptability could exclude those holding ‘respectable’ opinions and create social groups where controversial political and social issues could be espoused in like-minded company. Rather obviously, the figure is engaged in the act of masturbation, popularly thought to be both a moral evil and unhealthy by 18th century medical standards. This debate had a surprising social range from the sweaty palmed hysteria of the journal Onania sparking a public debate between medical professionals ‘pointing out the absurdity and immorality of [the] doctrine in favour of Onanism or masturbation’, to the unfortunate Scottish minister Daniel MacLauchlan being imprisoned for writing a ‘vile, abominable and obscene pamphlet’, a debate ending in the (metaphorical) waving of electrically charged prosthetic phalluses, like dawn duellists become horribly awry. It was easy to mock such mainstream views and clubs such as the ‘Beggar’s Benison’ used ceremonial masturbation both to lampoon the formalities of established clubs and to ridicule what they saw as the narrowness of mainstream society. Stuart Campbell is currently researching what other people should be protected from and is presenting a paper ‘The Naked and the Seditious; a material culture of Georgian erotic objects’ at the Erotica, Pornography and the Obscene in Europe conference at Warwick University April 10-12, 2013
Farewell to 2012
Why didn’t the Mayan Apocalypse happen? Was it still a good thing for archaeology? ARTHUR DEMAREST of Vanderbilt University sets the record straight.
he ancient Maya civilization has long captured the attention of both scholars and the general public. It fits the most romantic description of a “lost civilization” with the deserted ruins of its sprawling cities overgrown by jungle, its carved monuments covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions in an ancient tongue, and its temples with tombs and treasures within them. Yet this enigmatic civilization is also of great and serious scholarly interest for many reasons. One of those is that few highly complex societies have ever arisen
in a rainforest environment. Despite the thin soils, few navigable rivers, and rich but fragile environments of the subtropical forest, the Maya civilization was able to achieve perhaps the highest level of sociopolitical complexity of any ancient Pre-Columbian society. At its apogee between 400 B.C. and A.D. 900 the ancient Maya states extended across a vast area of Mexico and Central America. Yet by the end of the first millennium AD, these great cities were abandoned to be covered in jungle and deserted for centuries prior to their discovery.
A Palace at the Site of Palenque, Mexico.
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While the Maya tropical forest adaptation and their collapse have been the subject of much recent archaeology, both scholars and the public have also been intrigued with the evidence in the ancient inscriptions and their ongoing decipherment. The Classic period Maya created a number of calendars based on their many centuries of observations of the night sky. These included detailed knowledge of the cycles of the appearances of the sun, moon, Venus, Saturn, and star configurations. They could even predict eclipses of the sun, moon and Venus.
Above: Panel 3 of Cancuen Showing the Great Holy King, Taj chan Ahk and two sub-lords. Below: Drawing of the Acropolis at the Site of Piedras Negras, Guatemala.
Perhaps most important of their time systems was their count of days, the â€œLong Countâ€?. This was comparable to our own Gregorian calendric dates which record the days, years, decades, and millennia since the birth of Christ as in November 10, 1952. The Maya, however, counted time from a day of the present cycle of creation which was the day expressed in
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the culmination of years after 13, (a sacred number), of its units of 400 years (20x20, the other sacred number). Nonetheless, it is a great misunderstanding to think that the Maya would have believed that this was the end of time and the apocalypse ending history. Maya time was cyclical so when this Great Cycle of 13 baktuns would end, a new one would begin. Furthermore, the Maya had even greater cycles of time including a count of 20 baktuns, 20 of their 400 year periods. That would not end until October 13, 4772 in our calendar! Furthermore several Maya inscriptions include prophecies about events thousands of years into the future, obviously indicating that they did not believe that the world would end before those dates. Thus, the sensationalist predictions of doom are baseless.
Carved Stelae of a Divine King of the Site of Copan, Honduras.
our calendar as August 13, 3114 B.C. Another difference with the Maya calendar was that it relied on their base twenty mathematics. Thus, instead of counting in years, decades, and centuries they counted short years (“tuns” of 360 days) in units of one (the “tun”), twenty (the “katun”), and 400 (the “baktun” of 400 or 20x20 tun years). Just like our own calendar the Maya recorded dates since the beginning of the current “Great Cycle” of time but using a base twenty system, a much earlier start date, and also appending to it identifications of the day in their other astronomically-based or ritual calendar systems. It is this Long Count of days since the start date in 3114 B.C. which has led to the current controversy about the supposed Maya prediction of the end of the world on December 21 2012. This date would have been an important one since it marks the exact date of the end of 13 of their 400 short year periods (“13 baktuns”). Undoubtedly the Maya would have anticipated this date with anxiety and would have then celebrated its arrival with great ritual, ceremonies, and constructions. It represents
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Nonetheless, the 2012 apocalypse predictions have served a good purpose in drawing attention to the study of the ancient Maya. Furthermore, the leaders of the millions of modern Maya have embraced in a positive way the concept of the 2012 end of the Great Cycle of 13 baktuns. They believe that we should celebrate this date not as an end, but as the beginning of a new age, the opening of a better new cycle. This new cycle, they propose, should be an era in which the centuries of brutal oppression of the modern indigenous Maya, descendants of the great Classic Maya civilization. In that spirit on this date we can all appreciate the greatness of Maya culture, ancient and modern. We can also be pleased that the archaeological study of the ancient Maya has helped to bring attention, and hopefully support, to the Maya peoples of today. Further reading Coe, Michael D. 2011 The Maya. Thames and Hudson. Demarest, Arthur A 2004 Ancient Maya: The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization. Cambridge University Press. Van Stone, Mark 2010 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya. Tlacaelel Press.
Scientific Sandbox by Dan Weiss
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2012: Year of Earl Say goodbye to the ‘Dark Ages’: 2012 has seen an unprecedented amount of excavation on early medieval sites across Britain. Here’s some exclusive, unpublished highlights of ongoing work.
Photo © Cambridge Archaeological Unit
TRUMPINGTON ANGLO-SAXON BED BURIAL – Dr Sam Lucy, Cambridge Archaeological Unit Developer-funded excavations at Trumpington Meadows, three miles south of Cambridge, revealed part of an Anglo-Saxon settlement (later 7th- to 9/10th-century) consisting of sunken-featured buildings and one hall building, as well as a later phase of sub-rectangular enclosures. Associated with the earliest phase of settlement (later 7th century) was an aligned row of four inhumation burials. These were all of sub-adults or young adults, and one was a ‘bed burial’ accompanied by a chatelaine and a gold and garnet pectoral cross. The bed consisted of a wooden frame held together by metal brackets, with further pieces of looped metal fixing the cross-slats to create a suspended bed base, similar to modern beds, but with a straw mattress. The discovery of the bed adds to the cluster of examples already known in the Cambridge region, while the cross is the fifth known from Britain (in addition to those from Ixworth, Suffolk; Wilton Norfolk; Holderness and that found in St Cuthbert’s coffin). The other known crosses are pendants designed to hang suspended on a necklace, whereas the Trumpington cross has a loop on the reverse of each arm, so that it could be stitched directly onto either clothing or another material.
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ly Medieval Britain
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Photo by William Laing © University of Reading
LYMINGE ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT – Dr Lyminge, Kent, is known as the location of an Anglo-Saxon double monastery established in the 7th century. Archaeologists from the University of Reading, led by Dr Gabor Thomas, have been excavating within the village since 2008, locating the 8th and 9th-century monastic settlement. In 2010 we discovered the pre- Christian precursor settlement dating to the 6-7th centuries, represented by postbuilt structures and sunken-featured buildings containing a wealth of high-status material culture, including the first example of a plough coulter from Early Anglo-Saxon England. The project received funding from the AHRC in 2012 to continue the campaign of excavations for a further three years; this work is targeting
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Alexandra Knox (University of Reading) Tayne Field, a large open site in the heart of the village occupying a low spur overlooking a fresh-water spring. Our inaugural campaign of excavation surpassed all expectations by revealing the ground-plan of a massive timber assembly hall of a type found at Cowdery’s Down, Yeavering and other early Anglo-Saxon royal centres. We can provisionally date the hall to the late 6th-early 7th century as datable artefacts were found within its wall trenches, and radiocarbon dating will enable us to see if this is might be one of the earliest ‘Great Halls’ in Anglo-Saxon England. This phase of the project is delivered in collaboration with project partners Kent Archaeological Society and Canterbury Archaeological Trust. Find out more at www.lymingearchaeology.org
HOLY ISLAND, LINDISFARNE — David Petts (Durham University) Despite its importance as a centre of early medieval Christianity in the Insular world, Holy Island has seen very little recent archaeological work. However, this autumn, thanks to funding from National Geographic, archaeologists from Durham University carried out the island’s first large-scale geophysical survey, covering around 20ha in and around the village. The putative boundary ditch for the monastery following the Marygate did not appear, but we have identified an alternative boundary feature closer to the site of the medieval priory that also aligns on elements of the surviving road system. We have also identified a series of medieval enclosures, a possible prehistoric enclosure and most spectacularly, a second cloister attached to the medieval priory. All this remains hypothetical until we can ground-truth it through excavation, and we are currently looking for funds to do this. In addition to the fieldwork, we are also in the process of pulling together all unpublished archaeological interventions on the island. We’ve tracked down the archives from Brian HopeTaylor’s little-known research on Lindisfarne (carried out 50 years to the day before we did our geophysics) and will be digitising his site plans and sections. We are hoping to develop a campaign of new fieldwork, so watch this space!
Photo © REAP
Photo © David Petts
RHYNIE PICTISH STONE AND TIMBER HALL – Dr Meggen Gondek (University of Chester) and Dr Gordon Noble (University of Aberdeen) The Rhynie Environs Archaeological Project (REAP) has conducted two evaluative excavations (2011 and 2012) at the site of the Craw Stane, an in situ Pictish Class I symbol stone. The project has revealed a hitherto unidentified high status complex dating to the 5th – 6th centuries AD. Features include an impressive timber palisade enclosing the site alongside a series of ditched enclosures. There is also evidence for elaborate timber entrance features and pit structures associated with the ditch terminals. Within the interior there is evidence for at least one large timber hall and other structures showing architectural techniques ranging from post-built, post and beam, post and plan and plank-built. Many of the structures appear to have been destroyed in a catastrophic fire. The finds from this destruction layer are characteristic of early medieval high status sites and include sherds of Late Roman amphorae, imported glass, and evidence of fine metalworking.
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TRUSTY’S HILL PICTISH STONE AND HILLFORT – Dr Chris Bowles, Scottish Border Council Trusty’s Hill, near Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway, is best known for the Pictish symbols carved into a natural rock outcrop at the fort’s entrance. However, in recent years, many historians have begun to doubt the authenticity of these carvings. The Galloway Picts Project, a recent collaboration between the local community, private sector and public sector organisations and led by the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society (DGNHAS), sought to find out why there are Pictish Carvings here, so far from the Pictish heartlands in the north-east of Scotland, and if the carvings are indeed genuine.
Photo © Chris Bowles
The re-excavation of Prof. Charles Thomas’ trenches from 1960 in May and June of this year discovered exciting new evidence that the site was once a royal stronghold, including elite metalworking, pins and brooches and a sherd of imported E-Ware pottery from the Loire valley. The assemblage is in line with other hillforts ascribed a royal status such as Dunadd, Dumbarton Rock and Edinburgh Castle. The excavations also revealed the full sequence of construction and destruction by vitrification of the ramparts, ending in the middle of the 7th century. Finally, the feature called a ‘guard hut’ by Thomas, located directly opposite the Pictish symbols, proved to be a rock-cut basin with an arguably ritual significance at the entrance to the fort. All of this led the excavators to conclude that Trusty’s Hill was a royal stronghold, perhaps the home of powerful kings of Rheged such as Urien and Owain. If this is correct, then a once obscure archaeological site can now be seen as being central to the early medieval history of Scotland.
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Photo © Ian Haynes
MARYPORT ROMAN ALTARS AND LONG CISTS – Prof Ian Haynes, University of Newcastle and Tony Wilmott Our aim in 2012 was to review the full extent of the famous Maryport pits, first uncovered in 1870. Discoveries in 2011 had made quite clear that the Roman altars from these pits had not been interred in an act of piety, but as ballast for a timber structure. By the end of 2012 we had identified 63 discrete pits, most disturbed by antiquarian investigations, but for one which had been left untouched. It contained fragments of yet more Roman altars, one dedicated by Titus Attius Tutor, prefect of cohors I Baestasiorum, a regiment known to have been stationed at Maryport from the mid 160s to the early 180s AD. But what was this structure?
Photo © Andy Seaman
An important breakthrough came when we unearthed a clutch of long cist burials in the NW end of the site. The graves do not encroach on the area occupied by the timber structures, indicating that they were contemporary. Two of these contained quartz pebbles, an indication of early Christian funerary rites. We eagerly await the results of lab analysis of fragments of tooth enamel, human bone, a mysterious wooden object, textile and a necklace which survived from these graves. This site was probably of particular importance to an early Christian community and, looking out across the Solway on a clear day, one can perhaps see why this high point was chosen: it is intervisible with Whithorn, the cradle of Scottish Christianity.
DINAS POWYS HILLFORT – Dr Andy Seaman, University of Canterbury Dinas Powys hillfort is the richest, best preserved and most fully excavated postRoman secular settlement in Wales. Until recently the importance of the site was understated due to the misdating and interpretation of its defences, but re-evaluation of the finds and stratigraphy combined with radiocarbon dating has led to its reinterpretation as a high-status socio-political centre associated with the 5-7th century rulers of eastern Glamorgan. Nevertheless considerable ambiguity surrounds the relationship between Dinas Powys hillfort and the ‘Tyn y Coed Earthworks’ or the ‘Southern Banks’ which lie 140m to the south. These were surveyed in the early 1950s and trial trenched by Leslie Alcock and Geoff Wainwright in 1958, and have been variously interpreted as a prehistoric enclosure, a Norman siege work, a cattle corral, and an early medieval settlement. The primary aims of the current project are to establish the date, form, and function of Tyn y Coed and ascertain their relationship with Dinas Powys. Work so far has focused on survey and trial excavation, but larger scale excavation is planned for 2013-14.
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Fashion Ramblings Fashion Ramblings
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End of the World Edition Amanda Charland
he temperature has dropped, the heating in the Archaeology Department isn’t working, and the subway is mobbed by people with ridiculously oversized shopping bags. Yup, it’s that festive time of year again! The mood is only slightly interrupted by the seemingly endless supply of doomsday documentaries showing us how to prepare for the next Armageddon/mass economic breakdown/giant volcano explosion/
plague outbreak/zombie apocalypse. Ok, so the Mayan Apocalypse was no big deal, but there’s lessons to be learnt for archaeologists who have to work in extreme conditions. Here’s how to build up your very own ‘bug-out’ bag: the essentials that let you get the hell out of dodge and survive for a couple of days (if you can’t outrun the zombies for this long, then you’ll just have to accept that natural selection has had its eye on you).
Disaster Plan Before you set off you gotta have a plan. You’ll need a GPS unit. The Garmin Dakota is relatively easy to use. Make sure to splurge on the OS maps for your GPS (this isn’t the time to go cheap) and make sure to pack some extra lithium batteries. It’s also a good idea to buy a back up map. The OS Explorer – Active map is weather resistant.
A Backpack You’re gonna need a pack big enough to keep everything to quell your paranoia. Camelbak’s Vantage FT (Men’s) and Vista FT (Women’s) packs have great zipper access (top and side) so you can grab anything you need without having to unpack everything. The integrated Antidote Resevoir will handle some of your water needs.
Water Eventually you’ll run out of zombie-free water. The Katadyn Hiker Pro can connect directly to your Camelbak hydration pack. It will ﬁlter up to 1L/minute and remove bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, sediments as well as reduce bad tastes and odours. This system must be used with either the Katadyn Micropur Forte MF 1T silver ion and chlorine tablets or the Aquamira Water Treatment Drops to ensure the removal of viruses. These tablets/drops are safe to ingest regularly, unlike iodine-based water treatments.
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Stove You never know how these ﬁnicky apocalypses are gonna go, so you should get a multi-fuel stove. The Primus OmniFuel Stove will work with LP gas, petrol, diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel (you know, should you come across an abandoned airplane, but can’t ﬂy it to safety). A cheaper alternative is the MSR Whisperlite International 2012 Stove, which will run with gas, kerosene and unleaded fuel.
Cooking Pot/Utensils/Food Nothing beats an old coffee can and a spork. Of course, if you’re not a coffee drinker, you can get an MSR Stowaway Pot. For food, stuff your bag with trail mix and Snickers bars. For information on tracking/killing/preparing food in the wild please watch all series of Bear Grylls’s Born Survivor.
Fire: Once you’ve distanced yourself from any potential zombie onlookers it’ll be safe to build a ﬁre. If you want to go the traditional archaeological route get yourself a ﬂint and steel kit complete with charcloth and hemp rope. (Here’s a tip: include another smaller tin with a small hole piercing the lid inside your kit to make more charcloth as needed). Or if you’re lazy, you can use either a ﬁre piston or a BIC lighter. As far as lighters go, nothing beats a BIC. Other high-end lighters or Zippos may claim to be long lasting and windproof but in hotter climates fuel evaporates quickly and a ﬂame created when it’s windy isn’t any better than that made by a BIC. Avoid waterproof matches: although the tips are waterproof and will remain combustible, the tip will most likely break off of a wet stem.
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Clothes: Simple remains best even in extreme-conditions: always pack socks (Icebreaker and Smartwool are the best) and long underwear; then layer up with t-shirts, a hoodie or ﬂeece, and light trousers. My new favourites are Bear Grylls’s ‘Bear Survivor’ Full Stretch Trousers: they only come in boy sizes but they’re really comfy, and survived me sliding down most of the Trotternish on my rump…it’s a long story. Staying dry and warm separates the living from the zombie-food. For coats, always go synthetic rather than down: down is lighter and warmer, but as soon as you get it wet the heat will disappear (along with your hopes and dreams of survival). Make sure to put a pair of extra socks into a waterproof bag, like the Sea to Summit 35L Ultrasil Dry Sack.
Shelter and Sleeping: Barring the occasional abandoned car or secluded empty cabin, shelter may be hard to come by. I lean toward the claustrophobic so I’m all for a two/three person tent – something roomy enough to store my gear in and have some space to share. An affordable choice is the Vango Mirage 300 Tent. For sleeping you’ll want a close-ﬁtting mummy bag that will suit low temperatures (at least 0˚C). Mountain Hardwear’s Lamina 0 Reg is the warmest in their range with a comfort lower limit of -12˚C. To make your stay comﬁer you can use a closed cell sleeping mat like Thermarest’s RidgeRest SOlite. You could use an inﬂatable mattress, but if it bursts your mood will surely be severely deﬂated!
Other Useful Knick Knacks: A head torch, in case you have to keep on the go at night; try the Petzl Tikka 2 Plus 2012. Superglue: you can use it to close cuts until you ﬁnd medical help. A towel. Because nothing says DON’T PANIC quite like your trusty towel.
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ARE YOUR LYMPH NODES SWOLLEN?
DO YOU EXPERIENCE SWEATING, ULCERS, SORES, OR FEVER?
YOU COULD BE SUFFERING FROM Advice from the
THE KING’S EVIL
ALSO KNOWN AS SCROFULA OR TUBERCULOUS CERVICAL LYMPHADENITIS. Ancients
At the first instance, contact your local medical professional for diagnosis. Due to an increase in cases of fraudulent illness, you will be asked to provide a certificate from your village physician or local church or government official.
Once you have your referral, head directly to your monarch. Expect lengthy delays as most often treatment is limited to times before Easter or Christmas. Your monarch will provide you with prayers, scripture readings, and a touchpiece* of precious metal.
DIRECTIONS FOR USE: WEAR THE TOUCHPIECE AROUND YOUR NECK UNTIL ALL SYMPTOMS HAVE COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED. DO NOT REMOVE PRIOR TO THE END OF THE COURSE OF TREATMENT AND SPEND THE TOUCHPIECE AS SOON AS YOU LEAVE THE PALACE.
PRELIMINARY TEST RESULTS SUGGEST THAT REGULARLY WASHING IN ADDITION TO WEARING THE TOUCHPIECE IS BENEFICIAL.
ONCE CURED, YOU MAY USE THE TOUCHPIECE AS CURRENCY OR CONTINUE TO USE IT FOREVER: THE ROYAL TOUCH DOES NOT EXPIRE.
TALK TO YOUR CAUTION: SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE INCREASED LEVELS OF SUPERSTITION AND PRO-MONARCHISM.
*THIS OFFER IS LIMITED TO ONE TOUCHPIECE PER SUBJECT.
MONARCH ABOUT TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR THE
THE KING’S EVIL
Viking Man: review of the Manx Museum
ike many museums in distant areas, the Manx Museum exists not only to showcase natural and archaeological finds from the region, but also to provide a narrative outlining the community’s development into its present form. It serves as the island’s centre of display for history and ethnography and also acts as the island’s archive, National Trust, and headquarters of Manx National Heritage. It’s located at the top of a hill overlooking the main part of the capital of Douglas, so keep in mind that you’ll have to work for your museum gratification (quick tip: take the lift in the shopping centre’s car park to get you to walkways leading to the museum). The museum follows the usual pattern of progression, addressing the island’s geology and extinct flora and fauna before launching into a
chronological archaeology display. The prehistoric section takes up a substantial area full of twists and turns, with interesting explanations of how the objects were made and how Manx prehistory varied from the period elsewhere. But the real star of the show is the Viking exhibit, which takes up a gallery of its own. Despite the lack of known Viking settlements on the Isle of Man, there are plenty of silver hoards, sculpture, burials and stray finds to keep you amused with lots of bright, shiny things. For someone who studies the Vikings (like me, if you have not yet picked up on it), this is a chance to see in person so many of the finds that appear in books on the subject. Among the highlights for me were a trader’s balance with animalheaded terminals, the skull of the sacrificed slave girl from Ballateare and reconstructions of a Viking man and the Pagan Lady of Peel.
After the magnificence of the Viking section, the following medieval gallery pales in comparison. It is quite small and only gives a brief look at some church art, which is somewhat disappointing after the attention given to the previous galleries. This is redeemed somewhat by the more modern galleries, including an endearing nook reconstructing part of an old-fashioned schoolroom complete with excerpts from school master’s records and recollections of several Manx residents of their own schooldays. Admission is free, but I’m sure they wouldn’t say no if you wanted to donate some of your Manx pounds before you leave the island. For more info go to: www.gov.im/mnh/heritage/ museums/manxmuseum.xml] The closest thing to a horned helment on Man
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©New Line Cinema
EARTH AS MIRROR FOR MEDIEVAL EU-
SPECULUM FANTASIA: MIDDLE-EARTH AS MIRROR FOR MEDIEVAL EUROPE Mark Hall, Perth Museum
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For Tolkien, writing in a time of world wars, the remains of the past were a constant reminder of moral decay in the battle between good and evil. sought to make his own set of meanings as an author. I am referring of course to J.R.R. Tolkien. This article hopes to follow both Tolkien, and one of his great admirers and satirists Terry Pratchett, on their quests for meaning-making while confronting and critiquing our entangling past, both as ‘audience’ and ‘author’ to it. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth (principally The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, the Silmarillion and the History of Middle-Earth series) is an active relic of popular culture, with millions of individual readers and a mystified band of critics. It is a case study with particular relevance to the popular understanding of the medieval past. Middle-earth distils Tolkien’s fascination with language, which for him defined reality. Indeed in a 1967 interview Tolkien remarks how the seed for Middle-earth was his childhood invention of languages. This developed into a need to know what the ancestral myths permeating the 9th-century Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf would have looked like. In many respects Tolkien was concerned with successive falls from successive golden ages, with diminishment and passing. Inspired by his work as a scholar of ancient languages, he created a landscape scattered with ruins and ancient material culture, especially swords, jewels and rings of power. Yet his concern was more than just creating a new mythology, but countering his frustration at the fragmentary nature of the Anglo-Saxon past. For Tolkien, writing in a time of world wars, the remains of the past were a constant reminder of moral decay in the battle between good and evil.
Many of the words encountered in Middle-earth are not Tolkien’s unique creations but stem from his exploration of medieval word origins during his time as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. They include Arkenstone, Shelob, carrock, confusticate, dwimmerlaik, ent, halfling, hobbit, Quickbeam, Smaug and Withywindle. The one I will single out here is mathom, a word Tolkien used to mean ‘anything that hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away’, as defined in the prologue of the Lord of the Rings. This word was common in Old English and meant ‘something valuable, an item of treasure’, but its earliest form is 4thcentury Germanic, where it referred to ‘gifts’ or ‘something exchanged’. A variant of it (mathum) is deployed in Beowulf to describe a dead king’s funeral treasure. In Tolkien’s Middle-earth the word is used by hobbits and the men of Rohan, the latter most closely resembling elite Anglo-Saxon society, and is redolent with gift-giving and buried treasure. It is a sign of Tolkien’s inventiveness and his willingness not to be confined by the known past that he changed the meaning of the word within its hobbit context to be something of no real worth but which you cannot quite part with – a humorous pointer to the anachronistic, unheroic, middle-class culture of the shire. Tolkien also sought inspiration from historical material culture. In Middle-earth, swords are centuries old and some follow a trajectory of heirlooms (thus the shards of Narzil descend to Aragorn and are reforged to become Anduril), while others are lost before their recovery in a later age. They are found in hoards of treasure secreted in barrows and when recognised as old friends (or feared enemies) their names are immediately recalled. This is not unlike what we know of the trajectory of many early medieval swords. Swords were given personality through their being named by their owners and evolved these personalities through their subsequent social trajectories, often over several generations when passed on as heirlooms, gifts or removed from burial chambers. Such realities of the lives
©New Line Cinema
he Italians have a proverb: Se non e vero e ban traveto, ‘If it isn’t true, it is a damn good story’. All civilisations are inventions. Some go on to be re-created as acts of archaeological and historical interpretation, but some do not achieve material reality and remain fictive imaginings. To recognise this is to recognise that the role of audiences is as crucial as that of authors and experts, an audience that is actively involved in creating and re-creating the worlds and histories we read about. I suggest that the fictional world of ‘Middle-earth’ can be understood as the response of one particularly keen audience member and student of history and mythology, and one who
Tolkein’s Rohan was modelled on Anglo-Saxon culture
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Lord of the ringforts: Artist’s depiction of the ancient fortress on Amon Sul in the Eriador region of Middle Earth
of swords are reflected in their mythopoesis, which of course adds narrative exaggeration, as with King Arthur’s sword Excalibur (with roots in Bronze Age votive depositions) and the sword Hrunting in Beowulf. The ‘book’ is given special significance in Tolkien’s consideration of material culture and the structure or architecture of the Middle-earth narrative is heavily influenced by this. The Lord of the Rings cycle is framed as history, based on stories from the fictional Red Book of Westernesse and including within its structure oral tales and songs. To a 13 year-old boy reading Lord of the Rings for the first time this was one of its deepest and most beguiling pleasures. I knew just enough about history at that age for its texture and internal referencing of the Red Book to be entirely plausible and to provide me with a sense of discovering something about the past, though I never did find the Red Book in bookshops or libraries. But Tolkien’s invented civilisation is also a product of its time, showing how narrative inventions still reveal the biases and prejudices of their authors. Middle-earth is an androcentric world and it is an oft-repeated criticism of Tolkien that he created insignificant female characters. Certainly the Jackson films (with Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens co-scripting) sought to soften this by foregrounding female characters in recognition that contemporary politics needed to be reflected in their modern retelling of the story. This is sometimes done with a sense of humour, for instance, by giving the dwarf Gimli dialogue in which he talks to Eowyn with sexual longing of female dwarfs and their beards. This is in acknowledgement of one of Terry Pratchett’s criticisms of Lord of the Rings, as in his invented civilisation of Discworld, all female dwarfs are bearded. Another long-held criticism and uncomfortable truth of Lord of the Rings is its implicit racism, though perhaps Euro-centrism is a fairer criticism: we should remember that cross-ethnic pairings are crucial to Middle-earth, including Beren and Luthien and
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Aragorn and Arwen and that the movement of the ‘dark forces’ of the enemy from the east and south is an (admittedly unsubtle) reflection of the contemporary view of the 7th-century spread of Islam into the fringes of Europe as a cataclysmic event. Finally in this abbreviated discussion of Tolkien we should note that he saw his creation of Middle-earth as our own world, veiled in myth but accessible through material culture for those tuned to recognise it. ‘Middle-earth’ was another term he worked on for the OED and so was acutely aware of its Old English meaning as the middleregion occupied by humans, between heaven and hell, with a derivation as far back as the 4th-century Germanic midjan-gards. He stressed several times in his writings that Middle-earth was not an imaginary place but a real place in which he set an imaginary story. This is in contrast with another invented civilisation, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, which is a parallel world primarily concerned with exposing myth, using a sharp-edged satirical wit. Different books in the Discworld series incorporate different aspects of medieval material culture, myths and politics, including the Stone of Destiny (The Fifth Elephant) which forms the inspiration for ‘The Stone of Scone’ – an enormous rock-hard scone upon which the Low King of the dwarves is always crowed, which is stolen just prior to the coronation. Here, as already indicated above, the point is not to create a more satisfying history or mythology, but to tear down our own mythologizing of the medieval past. At the root of Pratchett’s different approach is his adoption of a narrative context of broad, satirical humour and Pratchett is on record as being inspired to write fantasy contra Lord of the Rings. Pratchett adds a further level of reflexivity to this by weaving in post-medieval cultural categories of the medieval. Amongst the key characters of The Wee Free Men, A Hatful of Sky and Wintersmith are the Nac Mac Feegle: tiny, blue, kilt-wearing, fierce fairies or ‘Pictsies’,
Within fantasy, story comes first and great works of medieval-inspired fiction include what purists would call anachronistic elements (Tolkien’s hobbits for example drink tea) but more importantly such anachronisms add to the mirroring of our own world which amidst its modernity has its medieval roots exposed. More than this though, imagined realities have been an ever-present part of the human drive to explain and adapt through narrative. Archaeological and historical explanations are driven by an honestly meant desire to be objective, yet often prefer a narrative form. The paradox has grown as a consequence of the fantasy / truth split. On the one hand invention and mythopoesis are part of the human condition and so help activate the mute archaeological record. On the other hand, in a contemporary context we require an objective separation between archaeological, scientific, factcentred analysis of reality and narrative desires. It can be hard to separate fact from fiction when fiction is a fact of existence. Pratchett’s fusion of fact and fiction is about the blend rather than the separate entities – it is not seeking to prove an ancient reality nor to deceive us, but to remind us about the contemporary relevance of the past and present and its abilities to expose the tricks of power and capitalist-fuelled consumerism.
Pratchett’s fusion of fact and fiction is about the blend rather than the separate entities Both Tolkien and Pratchett’s mirroring of the past attest to a popular desire for giving the past a coherent narrative. The popularity of both has been endorsed and extended by adaptations into other media, including TV and radio adaptations, cartoons, and films. Further blurring the boundary between fact and fiction the film adaptation of LOTR has also generated a blockbuster museum exhibition, showing a pervasive desire for myths to be real. In the absence of a compelling narrative of the medieval past, a part of the public prefers to experience the medieval as filtered through these authors’ visions of it. Myths of course are as much about what we want or would wish to have happened as accommodating what actually happened. History and the earliest archaeology were concerned with producing narratives of national and social
a delightful pun on 18th- and 19th-century concepts of the Picts. In terms of their genre and their exploration of the medieval they could not be more different, but both authors display moral astuteness and a shrewd understanding of human behaviour.
Tolkien’s rings of power were inspired by Old Norse mythology and Viking artefacts
identity but today as academic disciplines have broken away from an authoritative view of the past. They are no longer tasked with creating narratives but pointing towards deeper truths and plural voices, as exemplified by Pratchett’s postmodern Discworld vision of the medieval past. As an academic and an author, Tolkien demonstrated that one can pursue separately fact and fiction and that each can inform the other, but he also invented to suit his story. As a consequence, I cannot be the only person who, in part at least, ended up a medievalist or an archaeologist or an historian after reading Lord of the Rings in one’s youth. Perhaps archaeologists and historians should write more narrative constructions but should these form part of their analysis of the past? We need to be aware of our own and our audiences’ desires to know all and to subvert the past to an ideal reality but we should not produce myths in lieu of not knowing. On the other hand, we should not feel threatened by the range of alternative readings produced by writers and film-makers or indeed the public, since a literary work can have meanings far beyond an author’s intention Note and thanks This paper is an amended and re-focussed version of a paper originally published on the EAA blog at http://e-a-a.org/blog/?p=219, itself a slightly amended version of the paper given at the EAA Annual Meeting in Zadar, Croatia, September 2007. It was read at the session on Invented Civilisations organised by Cornelius Holtorf and Michael Jasmin. This new version has benefited from several insights offered by Adrian Maldonado.
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Dr. Donna Yates reflects upon the (im)material legacy of The Lord of the Rings films in New Zealand and how ephemeral locations from films based on a work of fiction are still on the real-world tourist trail.
The set of Hobbiton used for the original LOTR films near Matamata, New Zealand
erhaps the most striking thing about the overlay of the fantastic world of The Lord of the Rings onto the landscape of New Zealand is the lack of materiality.
Before I go any further, I should say that I am not a New Zealander, but I live with one and I spent about 9 months in the country in 2010 enjoying the landscape, the heritage, and the hospitality of his family members, several of whom appeared in the films. This was right in the middle of various scandals concerning the making of The Hobbit: the first director had quit and we decided that it was as good a time as any to sit in the apartment of an elf veteran of the Battle of Helms Deep and watch the extended versions of all three films. “Why weren’t you in the films?” I asked my partner. “Because I had a job,” was his response. Fair enough. Not that it sounded like that much fun; our elven companion told us that there was a microphone in her bow and that their costumes were so tight that they couldn’t sit down, just lie prone on blankets between takes. We had previously passed Helms Deep, or should I say Dry Creek Quarry outside of Wellington,
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when we were out driving. The set is entirely gone and it is a working quarry again. We were on our way to buy pyjamas: Helms Deep just happened to be by the side of the road. It seems like much of LOTR is on the way to pyjamas, the mechanic’s, or Burger Wisconsin. We took things a few steps further after I found a book in the local library outlining where various parts of the film were shot. A decade had passed since the first film came out and I was eager to see what was left. We piled into a car (along with another elf veteran of Helms Deep), and went to the filming locations that are reasonably accessible to Wellington. We had lunch at Isengard (Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt City). Although Sir Ian McKellen was reportedly in town that week, he wasn’t there, nor was there anything left from the film. The book instructed us to look for a particular tree which we aren’t sure we found. We did find everything we needed for a round of frisbee golf, though, save the frisbee. Rivendell (Kaitoke Regional Park) was a bit more impressive. The area was beautiful even if I did have to walk across a terrifying cable bridge
over the River Anduin (Upper Hutt River). All the actual sets from the film are gone, of course, but there is signage up with stills from the film that encouraged visitors to imagine Rivendell as still being there. Yes, they were asking us to imagine a film projection of an imagined literary invention. Near Mt. Victoria, right in the heart of Wellington, we found ourselves in the woods where Frodo and the gang were chased by a Nazgûl on the way to Bree. The area is signed as “Hobbit Trail” and we are pretty sure we found the right tree to huddle under. The archaeologist in me came out and I insisted that I could see the modification cuts made during the filming of that scene, but I was making that up. I can’t fully express how ‘in the middle of town’ those woods are; they feel so remote in the film. However, in real life you can see into the back gardens of all the student flats clustered in that area. It was within walking distance of the movie theatre in which all of the LOTR films premiered.
In a way, The Lord of the Rings came and went leaving little in the way of material culture in its wake. The blockbuster museum exhibit mentioned in this paper ended, and Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, didn’t acquire any of the items from it: that stuff is owned by Peter Jackson and Weta Studios. According to my elf source, who also happens to be a historic preservation expert, most of the sets and props that were made for the film were formed out of
strange plastics that degrade over time and would have been a nightmare to curate. Apparently the less ephemeral props (think real swords and real rings) were given to relevant cast members. Word is that the new Hobbiton for the upcoming Hobbit films has been made of more permanent material and will stay up and in place, a nod to the tourism potential of the films. But honestly, you don’t really need the sets: New Zealand is just naturally a fantasy landscape for those of us who are not from there. The running joke as we looked out over the Karori Valley while we drank morning coffee was that if the official Hobbit film fell through, we could just make one ourselves. Grab a video camera, round up some extras from the film, and just stick them out there on a hillside. New Zealand looks like a fantasy novel, it doesn’t even have to try, which is why everyone films there: Willow (1988), The Chronicles of Narnia instalments The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and Prince Caspian (2008), and Bridge to Teribithia (2007), to name just a few. In a way, the lack of materiality forces you back into the serious business of imagining. For every super-fan who felt that the films didn’t do justice to their own mental construction of Middle-earth materiality, New Zealand sits as a convenient backdrop onto which you can project your own invented structures
Heritage: it’s all in the mind
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Kenneth Brophy delves into the mysterious worlds of H.P Lovecraft
There is something Lovecraftian about archaeology. Fumbling for some ancient and secret truth. Searching in the dark. On the brink of revealing something truly amazing about the history of humankind and our ancestors. In the zone between human and non-human, the living and the dead. Powerful amulets and magical objects. Death, mystery, horror, the occasional curse. Large brown rats with human faces and little hands. Well, maybe not the last one, being a description of the disturbing creature known as Brown Jenkin which haunted a student of ‘NonEuclidean calculus and quantum physics’ in HP Lovecraft’s 1933 tale The Dreams in the Witchhouse. Dabbling with science – ‘digging’ (in both senses of the word) where one should not – ending badly is a trope of horror fiction. But Lovecraft was especially adept at dredging up the ancient and the disturbed (again, in both senses of the word), and making old stuff seem weird and sinister. And as such, when Lovecraft did dwell on antiquities and archaeological sites, the outcome was generally not good. Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 18901. An unassuming character, he was a prolific writer of weird fiction, a blend of fantasy, horror, science fiction and ghost stories, with the most productive period of his career in the 1920s and early 1930s. During his lifetime, he was relatively unheralded, and as with so many authors, only became appreciated after his death. His highly distinctive prose style – overblown yet
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precise, colourful but creepy – was displayed over a range of genres, and published as short stories, novellas or in serials in colourful magazines such as Weird Tales. In many of his stories, Lovecraft drew on a peculiar mythology that he himself created, known as the Cthulthu Mythos, where he portrayed a world that had once been populated by ancient, alien, elder beings, which had in some way interfered with (or engineered) humanity, and with this came a recurring retinue of stock ‘monsters’, cult texts and sinister New England locations. (Lovecraft was an accidental founding father of ‘alien archaeology’, later popularised by Erich von Daniken2.) Lovecraft’s world, often normal on the surface, was beneath the façade a seething mass of indescribable creatures with multiple tentacles and unpronounceable names (Tsathoggua, MiGo the Fungi from Yuggoth). Secret information was imparted about this Mythos through a series of grimoires3, bizarre and dangerous books that
Lovecraft’s fiction is all about the past and its secrets. Though he was a deep lover of antiquity, he was also afraid of it. recur again and again in Lovecraft’s writing, notably the Necronomicon, and the wonderfully named Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt. Despite the schlocky nature of much of what HPL wrote, populating cheap magazines and
science fiction anthologies, his work has proved enduringly popular and influential, inspiring the likes of Robert Bloch, Stephen King, Robert E Howard, Brian Lumley and Neil Gaiman.
Lovecraft’s work drips with (pre)history, sometimes ancient and primordial, a deep history that is written into the fabric of buildings, memories and even the bodies of individuals. This was not the past of history books or archaeological excavations (archaeologists almost never appear in HPL’s work to mediate the traces of the past for the reader), but mythologised histories, whispered reminisces, very often articulated through unease rather than nostalgia. Rather like the writings of archaeologists, Lovecraft presented narratives of how the world might have been, displaced in time yet fixed in real places. Michael Houellebecq has written of the balanced role played by archaeology and folklore in Lovecraft’s fiction6 ; often this is played out in tension between stock educated characters (students, academics, scientists, artists) and the
What does Lovecraft’s fiction have to do with archaeology? Lovecraft rarely explicitly discussed archaeology per se, one rare exception being a bizarre serial adventure he ghost wrote for Harry Houdini in 1924 entitled Imprisoned with the Pharaohs (aka Under the Pyramids). Yet traces of the past, in the form of material culture, ruins, rock-art and creatures are consistent themes of Lovecraft’s stories, with an underlying antiquarian sensibility. When such things crop up they are almost always viewed as indicative of something sinister. ‘Lovecraft’s fiction is all about the past and its secrets. Though he was a deep lover of antiquity, he was also afraid of it: in his stories, aberrant things lurk in dark attics and ancient texts. Looking too closely into the past leads to terror, madness and death4’. Lovecraft’s fiction in infused with a range of scientific interests that he had, from astronomy to chemistry, and his writing drew on the conventions of scientific reporting, a style that when combined with the weird and evil is particularly chilling. The finest example of this are reports delivered after a disastrous expedition to
Antarctica which form Lovecraft’s finest work, At the Mountains of Madness (1936), which includes a tense ‘alien’ autopsy in shocking detail. In this vein Lovecraft drew on archaeological information available to him at the time, which included Howard Carter’s famous dig at Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 (and associated curse), to developing theories on hominid evolution, in the form for instance of Piltdown man (half human, half ape), ‘discovered’ in 19085.
Above: Depiction of Shoggot, from Lovecraft´s At the mountains of Madness Previous page: Portrait of Lovecraft
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probably a ‘druidical temple’ where ‘indescribable rites’ must once have taken place (which pretty much sums up a lot of conclusions reached in Neolithic studies). The foundations and ruins of the Priory had been a source of local disquiet (‘the country folk hated it’ but antiquarians loved it) and the narrator could not source any locals who would work on the renovations. Roman inscriptions in the cellar were a further source of dread. DIV OPS MAGNA MAT was one such inscription, apparently fecund with suggestions of Roman ceremonies, orgies and cult activity. Subsequently AngloSaxons expanded this ‘temple’ until a weird monastic order had taken hold by AD1000. This was a place with a dark history, associated with the narrator’s bonkers ancestors, a ruin with fearful qualities, regarded with fear and suspicion by the local populace.
Perhaps the greatest example of Lovecraft pulling all of these themes together – objective and calm reporting (under terrifying circumstances), distance-learned archaeological titbits, ancient symbols and structures, and the Cthulhu Mythos of pre-human manipulation – is to be found in the story The Rats in the Walls (first published in 1924). Unusually this tale is set in old, not New, England, at Exham Priory to be precise (based on Hexham Abbey in Northumberland, which has a remarkable and ancient crypt). The narrator of the story has been restoring the Priory; the ancient partially ruinous building has a dubious history associated with his family, and was built on the location of older structures, certainly Roman, and
This is a remarkable story, a relatively minor element of the Lovecraft canon, and yet it captures a sense that if we go digging about underground, or looking in dark corners, for ‘answers’ then we may not like what we find. Lovecraft seems to be suggesting that when we excavate, we excavate ourselves, and some things from the past contain secrets that we should not meddle with (‘such secrets are not good for mankind’). Perhaps this reflects general reservations that Lovecraft had about the impact of science, concerns which he raised in his copious letter writing (it is estimated he wrote at least 100,000 letters during his lifetime)9. Yet Lovecraft clearly retained a respect and fascination for science and the conventions
simple country folk of Massachusetts who know more than they are letting on. And this device in turn creates tension, fear, suspicion and a lot of this energy emanates from mysterious buildings and ruins that make no sense to the educated ‘outsider’; the ‘singular angles described by the moss-grown rows of grey standing stones’ (The dreams in the Witch-house), the ‘ruined edifices’ at the bottom of the ocean (The Temple), the ‘ghoulish, decapitated steeple’ in Innsmouth (The Shadow over Innsmouth); a ‘great black stone with unknown hieroglyphics’ (The Whisperer in Darkness) and so on. The past was a central means by which Lovecraft generated what he called ‘cumulative horror’7.
Needless to say things did not turn out well for the new occupant of this pile, and soon the narrator was down in the cellars, poking about in fantastical Roman ruins with ‘implements of excavation’ trying to work out what was bothering his cat (which had a name which reflects Lovecraft’s racism, revealed in particular in his letter writing)8. The investigation drew on the skills of a Dr Trask, an anthropologist, Sir William Brinton, some kind of archaeologist, and Capt. Norrys, a friend. There follows a journey through the bowels of the building into a network of caverns and caves that drives most of them mad. Amidst the ruins was found a ghastly pile of bones, gnawed by rats; Lovecraft did not display archaeological sensitivity when he described the skulls as ‘denoting nothing short of utter idiocy, cretinism, or primitive semiapedom’. A huge cavern was then found, which contained a confusing palimpsest of archaeological sites: ‘a weird pattern of tumuli, a savage circle of monoliths, a low-domed Roman ruin, a sprawling Saxon pile, and an early English edifice of wood’. More piles of bones were found, representing individuals ‘lower than the Piltdown man in the scale of evolution’. A crude excavation of one of the tumuli revealed skulls ‘slightly more human than a gorilla’s’. It all ends very badly.
Ian Miller cover of Panther Horror edition of At the Mountains of Madness (1974)
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Ultimately, the pleasure of reading the works of HP Lovecraft12 comes not from looking too deeply for hidden meanings, or carrying out our own excavations of his writings. Yet, even so, deep down, I cannot rid myself of the feeling that there is something hidden and unmentionable in his sacred texts still waiting to be found. I feel queerly drawn to carry out further investigations, even although just last night I was awoken from my dreams in a frenzy of screaming. And what archaeologist has not thought, in secret moments of weakness, ‘stupendous and unheard-of splendours await me below, and I will seek them soon’13…
Detail of Lancer edition of The Dunwich Horror (1971)
of scientific analysis and reporting. The weirdest discoveries made by Lovecraft characters remained within the scope of academia, viewed as too strong for public consumption. Papers and files associated with the events of his story The Call of Cthulhu were, so the narrator tells us, to be ‘published by the American Archaeological Society’. And perhaps also Lovecraft felt that a career spent researching the past was dangerous and wrong-header. One key character in Lovecraft’s early writing was an antiquarian called Charles Dexter Ward10 . For HPL, Ward was a man caught up in the past, fascinated with it, to his own personal cost: ‘With the years his devotion to ancient things increased; so that history, genealogy, and the study of colonial architecture, furniture, and craftsmanship at length crowded everything else from his sphere of interests’ (The case of Charles Dexter Ward). And Randolph Carter, another recurring character in a number of other stories, was also an antiquarian. In the story The Statement of Randolph Carter, an investigation into a crypt in an ancient cemetery is undertaken; the place smelt of ‘rotting stone’ and excavations quickly allowed ‘miasmal gases’ to escape. Once again, this digging adventure ended in death and madness. Lovecraft’s horrible fascination with antiquarianism, and the places and objects of the past, are reinforced by the fact that most authorities accept both Ward and Carter were thinly veiled autobiographical characters11.
1. Houellebecq, M 2006 HP Lovecraft: against the world, against life. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2. See von Daniken’s pseudoarchaeological classic, The chariots of the Gods (1969) for starters 3. See www.hplovecraft.com for a list of creatures, characters and texts from Lovecraft’s writing 4. http://archaeopop.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/ archaeology-in-fiction-hp-lovecraft.html 5. Russell, Miles (2003), Piltdown Man: The Secret Life of Charles Dawson & the World’s Greatest Archaeological Hoax, Stroud: Tempus 6. Houellebecq 2006, page 75 7. From August Derleth’s much reprinted foreword to many HPL anthologies, H.P. Lovecraft’s Novels. 8. Houellebecq 2006, 105-9 9. Dziemianowicz, S 2010 Terror eternal: the enduring popularity of HP Lovecraft. http://www. publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/ publisher-news/article/43793-terror-eternal-theenduring-popularity-of-h-p-lovecraft.html 10. And see http://pages.vassar.edu/anth331/?tag=hp-lovecraft 11. Joshi, ST & Schultz, DE 2001 An HP Lovecraft Encyclopedia, Greenwood Publishing. 12. HarperCollins are the most recent publishing house to release the complete works of Lovecraft in three volumes: At the Mountains of Madness, Dagon and other Macabre Tales, and The Hunter in The dark. These collections were initially compiled by HPL’s colleague and publisher, August Derleth 13. HP Lovecraft The shadow Over Innsmouth (first published in 1936)
Once again, this digging adventure ended in death and madness Love Archaeology Magazine 33
The Archaeology of Skyrim
Is it crazy to look at the archaeology of a video game? Of course not! Is it an elaborate ploy to intellectualise and legitimise our Skyrim addictions instead of tackling our actual research? Maybe! Two of our massive nerds Jen Novotny and Seumas Bates take a closer look at the material culture of the immaterial world of Tamriel. lectuals
Skyrim is the highly successful newest installment to Bethesda Software’s longrunning Elder Scrolls franchise. After Skyrim’s release in November 2011, the gaming website VGChartz reported that 3.4 million retail (not counting digital) copies of the game were sold in two days. If you’ve never played a sandbox style game like Skyrim before, you don’t know what you’re missing. The game is set in Skyrim, the mountainous northern province of the mythical continent of Tamriel. The world available to experience is larger than several sovereign states, coming in at almost 40 square kilometres, and the diversity of flora, fauna and opportunities for social interaction is staggering. As a player, you have freedom to explore almost
every corner of this map at a time and pace that suits you. The game doesn’t force you into action, instead it gives you the opportunity to act and the tools to make this happen. The popularity of games and virtual worlds begs investigation because they offer hours of deeply immersive entertainment to an ever increasing number of players. Sociological and anthropological research has been conducted in virtual environments for over a decade, and Rice University will be offering the course ‘Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim’ this year. As virtual environments get more visually and texturally realistic, archaeologists should take notice.
Your inventory is full: virtual material culture
There has been a growing interest in virtual material culture in the past five years, once it became apparent that players of online games would pay real-world money for virtual goods. Play any free game available on Facebook and you will quickly notice that whether you have a virtual farm, city, kingdom, house, or pet, the coolest, cutest, or newest items require special game credits that can’t be earned, but have to be purchased with real cash. In fact, virtual economies have become astoundingly lifelike. The first attempts to study virtual material culture focused on Second Life,
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the virtual world created in 2003. Second Life requires much more user input than Facebook games; Second Lifers build their virtual worlds from the ground up. In this user-created environment, the design of items like clothing, furniture, and household objects became a way for a player to earn real money for their virtual creations, blurring the line between the virtual and real worlds. In games like Skyrim, the ability for usercreated content is much more limited, though modding on the PC is encouraged. But the folks at Bethesda have paid an astonishing amount of attention to the objects in Skyrim. Nearly everything you encounter can be picked up, dropped, knocked over and kicked. Weapons, tools and clothing can be equipped and used, and raw materials like plants, leather and ores can be crafted into objects. There are hundreds of other items which aren’t even particularly useful or exciting; you can pick up, but not use, spoons, forks, dishes, brooms, buckets, irons, kettles, and any number of other mundane things. Certain items can be examined in even further detail: books can be read page by page and special
©2011 Bethesda Game Studios
©2011 Bethesda Game Studios
Can we apply archaeological thinking to Skyrim, and more importantly, why? There is, in fact, archaeology actually occurring in Skyrim. There are 3 different ‘excavations’ you can explore as dungeons: Ansilvund, Nchuand-Zel, and Saarthal. At the latter, you meet a balding, robed researcher who is in charge of the exploration of this ancient ruin of the Nords (the indigenous ethnic group of Skyrim – think Vikings). Of course, Skyrim maintains archaeology’s pop culture reputation as treasure-hunting – in this instance you are tasked with finding magical artefacts in the form of enchanted rings and an amulet. Except in this world, you don’t have to record, clean, or conserve the artefacts; they are simply yours to keep!
ÂŠ2011 Bethesda Game Studios
Health and safety nightmare
quest items can be rotated and zoomed in on for a closer look. Even the loading screens feature objects. Instead of showing landscapes or artistic scenes like Skyrimâ€™s predecessor, Oblivion, these placeholders highlight a randomly selected item which you can rotate and zoom while you wait for your dungeon to load. A shield can be rotated all the way around until you can see how the handle is attached at the back, you can zoom in to see the carved patterns in a statue, or you can spin a sword until the light glints off the blade With the release of the Hearthfire downloadable content (DLC) in autumn 2012, an added level of virtual material engagement arrived to Skyrim. The add-on allows you to build a house from the ground up, allowing for greater customisation than the ready-made houses for purchase in normal gameplay. After a brief but suitably heroic quest
in one of three provinces, the player is offered an empty plot of land upon which to construct their dream home. While the core options are all the same for each of the three locations, there are place-specific quirks. For instance, the plot on the misty edge of a northern lake comes with a fish hatchery, whilst another in the agrarian heartland has a beehive that can be harvested for honey. Building a house involves crafting nails, hinges, and locks from iron, quarrying stone and clay and purchasing lumber. You can quickly construct a simple, one-room dwelling that meets all of your accommodation needs, but who on earth would stop there? A much more substantial great hall can be added to the back of the original one-room house, which becomes merely the entryway. Then the real fun begins and the player may choose one of three options for each of the remaining sides. Are you a fighter, not a lover? Build yourself an armoury. Is that hanging cauldron inhibiting your culinary aspirations? Build a separate kitchen wing with functioning oven.
Obviously, the first wing I constructed was a library tower because I am a nerd in both my real and virtual lives; and besides, the view from the top is breathtaking. Love Archaeology Magazine 35
©2011 Bethesda Game Studios
Hmmm... library or armoury?
Once you choose between the many room options, you can start customising the furnishings. You can show off your hunting prowess with mounted antlers or taxidermied animals. Again, these are crafted from raw materials you gather and manipulate; my stuffed snow bear required a pelt, claws and straw, and the display base had to be constructed separately of clay and stone. Constructing objects in Skyrim adds to the already high level of material engagement in the game. Breaking a virtual object down into its constituent parts adds realism, but it also makes you view objects in the game differently. I now find that when I move throughout the world, I involuntarily consider an object’s components. That shrine to a strangely-named deity is made up of malachite, a few silver ingots, panes of glass, and a flawless sapphire - and I can make one for the cellar shrine at home. Despite the fact that the ‘stuff’ in Skyrim is virtual, I would argue that our reaction to it can tell us a lot about how we interact with real-
world material culture. I became convinced of this as I watched my partner spend 20 minutes of game play obsessively manoeuvring objects into place on a shelf in his newly purchased house (a spacious stone mansion built by dwarves; I went for a more modest two-storey wooden house, myself). Moving items around in Skyrim is a finicky, frustrating process. It’s simple enough to pick up or drop an item – you just press a button. But to move an item around, you have to hold down a button until a telekinetic bond is established, then fiddle with the left and right sticks and triggers until the item is levitated into place. The sheer annoyance of telekinesis and my partner’s willingness to endure it says something about his dedication to doggedly trying to shift items into their proper positions. As he arranged his virtual artefacts, he proudly told me that he had earned each of the unique items in the Thieves Guild questline (he promised me he would go straight once he established a comfortable nest egg, but I now suspect that he’s become an assassin) and wanted to display them all together on a shelf in his sitting room. I could mock him, but I’m just as bad. Both of us collect rare or interesting books that are scattered throughout dungeons, simply to have them on our shelves. Some books offer skill boosts, but these are just for show. Similarly, I will frequently change my character’s armour and clothing, not just for practical reasons like bodily protection, but because I feel like I should wear a nice dress when I try to barter for goods, and I can’t bear to un-equip the amulet given to me by the Archmage before he died. ©2011 Bethesda Game Studios
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It’s clearly not just us; numerous Skyrim wikis tell you in minute detail where to find all sorts of unique items and pieces of kit. I take this to mean that the emotional bonds that my partner and I were forming with Skyrim’s immaterial material culture are shared by lots of other players. It doesn’t matter if it’s real, it seems that we psychologically interact with virtual
material culture in much the same ways that we do with actual material culture.
In this instance, an ersatz world makes us reflect upon the physical world – in other words, fake things can be just as engaging as real ones.
Heart shaped axe: digital material culture and binary attraction Let me describe my yesterday to you; I got up, went to the office, had dinner with a friend, came home, fought off a massive dragon that was attacking a small farm near where I live, went to bed. That’s right folks, I play Skyrim, and so should you, because experiences like this are part of a hugely important shift in this thing we call living in this place we call modernity. A shift which is causing a person’s self, community and entire culture to become partially digitized and exist online. A shift which has seen the virtual world play an increasing and at times dominant role in our experience of life, love, work and identity in daily life. A shift which (if you’re reading this article on the internet) is happening to you right now. Disagree with all of the above? Post a comment on Facebook saying so. I’ll even ‘Like’ it. But back to me. In battle I favour an aggressive approach. Nothing says ‘fun’ to me like bursting in a door with lightning flying from one hand and a serious-looking axe in the other, gleefully carving a path of hedonistic destruction in search of treasure and glory.
If my playing style were a guy, he’d be that douchebag at the party wearing sunglasses inside and trying to sleep with your girlfriend.
(Obviously we’re talking about my virtual combat style here; in real life, I’m a timid, skinny nerd just as you suspected.)
After a few such bombastic battles atop some perilous battlements, the local lord decided to reward me for my service by granting me a personal man-at-arms, someone to watch my back and carry my gear. Great, I thought, some giant warrior with tattoos and a thousand-yard stare, some grim looking beast of a man who can get stuck into some serious combat and crack some skulls. In fact, she was about 18, and called Lydia. Lydia? What the hell? That’s not a heroic man’s name! Wasn’t she that dippy one from Pride & Prejudice? Whatever, let’s just go with this and I can swap her for someone better later. After all, she’s just a computer program, an object created to enhance my gaming experience. As it were. Time went by. We fought side by side across many fierce battles, and as I watched this slip of a girl cut her way through hordes of the undead or stand her ground while a dragon bore down on us, I began to form a grudging respect for her. She had a pretty good sword arm, and was a fair shot with the bow. Indeed, one might say she had the Moves Like Jagger, Girl Power, and all that. Two things then happened. Firstly, she was killed. It just happened so suddenly. I turned around, and before my eyes she was cut down by a Frost Troll. Man, I was gutted. And I guess, technically so was she. So what did I do? I reloaded my last save, losing maybe an hour of gameplay just so I could have another crack at that battle and have her survive to fight another day. That’s Wickham doesn’t have a chance
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©2011 Bethesda Game Studios
correct, I wasted an hour of my real life time so that a fake character in a made-up world could continue to be my wing-man. Woman. Whatever. Secondly, I began to get a little annoyed that I was the only one getting recognition for our adventures. Kill a dragon; well done me. Save a town; well done me. Put down the rebellion against the Empire; well done ME. What about well done us? She was right there the whole damn time. It’s enough to turn an axe-wielding mage-warrior into a feminist. But why should anyone but my significant other care about this slightly creepy attachment I seem to have formed with a group of 1s and 0s? In fact, a significant and growing portion of the British population are having similar experiences in this emerging artistic medium. Chris Melissinos, guest curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, has discussed the uniqueness of video gaming as an art form because of its three perspectives: that of the game’s creator, the mechanics of the game itself, and player’s response. However, it is the interactive nature of gaming which is usually cited by gamers themselves as the principal draw which makes them choose this medium over, say, films or literature. These players get to experience a taste of actually fighting a dragon rather then watching or reading about someone else doing it; the adventure is theirs in a very deep and personal way.
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The researcher is therefore presented with an emerging social norm whereby millions of people are connecting in a very real, phenomenological way in extremely unreal environments. Skyrim is part of a much larger pattern (one which includes online gaming, Twitter, and Facebook) which sees social life and artistic engagement happening in the hyper-modern locales of the internet and digitally created worlds. What’s more, the areas of digital social networking and the video game art form are fast converging to occupy and increasingly shared space, as seen in immensely popular online games like World of Warcraft. Anthropology, archaeology and other disciplines need to be alive to the new challenges and opportunities that engaging with this new form of material culture presents, because in a world where I can genuinely care about the fate of a computer program called Lydia, it seems the significance of these virtual worlds cannot be in doubt Further reading Boellstorff, T. (2008). Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton University Press. Lehdonvirta, V. (2009). Virtual Consumption. Publications of the Turku School of Economics, A-11:2009.
A Review of Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Roleplaying Games, by Lizzie Stark. (2012). Chicago, Chicago Review Press. £10.59 RRP. ISBN 978-1-56976-605-7. Ryan K McNutt
yth, as defined by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, “. . . is not merely a story told but a reality lived. It is not of the nature of fiction, such as we read today in a novel, but it is a living reality, believed to have once happened in primeval times, and continuing ever since to influence the world and human destinies.” 1 The texture and contexts of our own modern myths may have changed, but something about myths and legends strikes a chord that resonates profoundly with some deep integral spark of our humanity, that encourages us to explore, create and pass on stories. Within modern society, outputs for this activity can be limited; perhaps then, this need for mythmaking explains the popularity and participation in roleplaying games. More specifically, the participation in that particular subgenre of live action roleplaying games, or Larping, seems to strongly echo that mythic aspect of ‘a reality lived’ in Malinowski’s view of myth.
1 Malinowski, Bronislaw (1954). ‘Myth in primitive psychology’, in Magic, Science and Religion, New York: Anchor. 93-148, at 100.
Yet, as a recreational past time, larping is the unfortunate victim of a host of stereotypes, and exists as something that may appear to the outsider as a tribe of Peter Pans and Wendys. Lizzie Stark’s Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games is an excellent work that delves deep, and delivers much—along the way addressing many of the stereotypes and misperceptions of the world of larpers. Her work is, in essence, an ethnography of strange and foreign worlds, populated by knights and knaves, dragons and demons, and magic and mischief. Werewolves and vampires, slayers and Lovecraftian monsters stalk, slither and drip within its environs. An ever evolving stream of worlds and universes are the foundations of the myths constructed and lived by larpers, and Stark explores an impressive host of them. For a relatively short text—228 pages, not including acknowledgements, glossary and bibliography—Stark covers an extraordinary amount of material. Organized into general thematic chapters, Stark narrates as her experience unfolds, pausing the flow of the ethnographic experience with
Legalising marijuana had changed the dynamic somewhat
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How does one handle sexism when roleplaying within a patriarchal fantasy universe? Moreover, in a genre such as fantasy that is only relatively recently seeing equal numbers of female authors, illustrators, and visionaries, how does a participant address that fact that the vision of how women look in fantasy worlds has been sculpted, illustrated and shaped by successive waves of predominantly white, male, straight creators? Stark attempts to answer this, though perhaps overly concisely: given the recent uproar in the scifi/fantasy communities over supposed ‘poser’ geek girls, and the continued objectification and sidelining of women within these communities, Stark should have taken this opportunity to delve deeper into sexism within geek culture generally, and its manifestations in larping.
Getting a seat at Denny’s afterward was always a challenge
chapters that delve into essential aspects of larping, like the historical development of larping and its descent from boardgames and Dungeons & Dragons. She also explores the historicity of larping, linking it into the pageants, plays, and theatre of the Elizabethan Age. While generally interesting, these chapters can be a bit dry, as can be the sections where she explains in detail the particular rule systems of some of the larps— like how market commerce is roleplayed. Stark does a very deft job of addressing the stereotypes of larping, making it very clear that as a subset of society, larping encompasses a multiplicity of genders, ethnicities, ages, political outlooks and occupations. In conjunction with this discussion of the demographics of larpers themselves, she lays out the context and origin of much of the fears, misunderstandings, and condemnation of roleplaying games generally— and larping specifically—by some of the general public, and their origins in fear mongering about Satanic worship and suicides among troubled teens involved with the gaming culture. The impact of this continuing stigma on her informants and their personal and professional lives is also discussed, and its intersections with various concepts of identity, masculinity, and ethnicity. Sexism and racism in larping is something Stark explores as well, though I personally felt sexism was one area that needed to be covered more deeply, preferably in chapter all on its own.
Despite this caveat, her book is still quite engaging, exploring a multiplicity of themes. Throughout her work, one of the paramount themes is that larping is an activity that positively affects those who are involved; she highlights its use as a training tool, how it can turn introverts into extroverts, and a therapeutic way of dealing with PTSD. Furthermore, she explores how some players in the act of creating their own myths and legends, end up not divorcing themselves from reality, but finding their true self within it. While there are a few rough patches, ultimately, Stark’s work is excellent, examining fairly a hobby that has suffered rafts of misunderstanding and condemnation. Perhaps most importantly, she leaves one with the feeling that participants in larping, by constructing the ‘lived reality’ of a modern myth, are continually engaging in one of the most intrinsically important aspects of fantasy; its ability to function as mirror of modernity and humanity, reflecting back at us who we are, and more importantly, who we want to be as people and as a society. Our myths are our way of making real the abstract ideas of justice, mercy, and kindness: we “. . . need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”2 And Stark shows very clearly how larping functions to create a living reality of myth ©STAR-TM.ru2009
Archaeological health and safety regulations had gotten out of hand 2 Pratchett, T. (1998). Hogfather. New York, HarperPrism.
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‘Let Other Pens Dwell On Guilt And Misery’: A Hesitant Twentysomething’s Journey Into The World Of Regency Re-enactment Seumas T.G. Bates
arlier this year about 700 mad people enthusiasts promenaded through the streets of Bath dressed in full Georgian costume. What else do I need to say? I could just knock off for lunch here and use the remaining space to cram in as many photos of ladies in pretty dresses as possible. But my editor has that look in his eye so I guess I’d better tell you about the incredible time I had at The Jane Austen Festival in Bath this September instead.
a tumultuous period of British history, with the declaration of independence of the United States (1776), the Regency (1811-1820), the abolition of the slave trade (1807), and (perhaps most importantly for her personally) the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).
The Jane Austen Festival of Bath has been running for 12 years now and attracts well over a thousand people each year to immerse themselves in over a week’s worth of Regency frivolity and high-jinx. These visitors come from the four corners of the map to dress up, join in, drink tea and celebrate one of Britain’s most beloved authors.
The basic plot of each novel is this [SPOILER ALERT]: girl meets boy, complication, girl marries boy. That’s pretty much it. It is remarkable then that this simple formula provides the vehicle for one of the most astute character and situational writers of her era to craft narratives alive with wit, sorrow, humour, and (of course) romance.
Let’s talk context for a moment. Jane Austen’s six books (Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion) which were published between 1811 (Sense & Sensibility) and 1818 (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both posthumously) have proven inexhaustibly popular. Pride & Prejudice alone has sold more than 20 million copies and been translated into 29 languages, not to mention the numerous adaptations and spin-offs. Born in 1775, Austen lived through
Now that I’ve offended half of my audience and alienated the other half, let’s talk about me wearing tights and really seal the deal. The festival opens with the famous ‘Grand Regency Costumed Promenade.’ Dressed in our very best we process through the streets of Bath looking like what would happen if the BBC costume department sponsored the Stop The War Coalition. So there I was, escorting my mother down Bath high street wearing three layers of
Good luck finding clear reference to any of that in her novels though, which instead centre on the relationships of families and lovers.
© Seumas Bates
The scheduling conflict with the Great British Bake-Off got ugly surprisingly quickly
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© Seumas Bates
They never did find Wally
wool, three-quarter length breeches and, yes, tights in the midst of summer.
One particular highlight of the week fitted this nicely; it was a lecture on the etiquette and practicalities of duelling. Rather then packing
Oddly, before long the costume began to take over my entire personality. I found myself emerging from my PhD-student-slouch and standing straighter and stiffer then Darcy at a ball. I wished people ‘good day’ rather than my usual grunt and nod. I started offering my arm to mother when we walked up and down stairs. Of course, she doesn’t need help walking up stairs, as she’s been doing it for almost 60 years without incident. I even exclaimed ‘huzzar!’ without irony at one point, which was, on reflection, taking things somewhat too far.
I felt like part of some sort of well-dressed circus, minus the terrifying clowns, screaming kids, and underlying theme of animal exploitation.
That’s the thing about escapist re-enactment of this sort. The excellent Facebook profile picture is only half the fun; you can’t help but get swept up in the whole experience. The festival’s calendar of events soon goes full-steam with lunches, lectures, sewing workshops, musicals and more. But truthfully what I enjoyed most was taking a leisurely stroll through the city enjoying the fine Georgian architecture and doffing my cap at the other folk who were dressed up and doing exactly the same thing. We were simultaneously creating a spectacle and experiencing a taste of the past, offering neither theme-park ride nor history lesson but something more than both.
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us into a dusty lecture theatre, our guide took us on a tour of the city where at each stop he explained more about the art of duelling. What really made this special was that he’d enlisted a local troupe of actors, so that at each stop we got to see the whole ceremony of the duel, from the initial argument and challenge outside the Assembly Rooms, to the culmination in the park below the Royal Crescent. The festival ended with a masked ball in the Pump Rooms, complete with dinner, live music, and period dancing. We assembled for the ball in the nearby Roman Baths, a pleasant mixture of 2012, 1812, and 312, and a reminder of the fascinating history of Bath. Of course, Jane Austen would not have been fully aware of the Roman aspect of this, as the famous baths were not fully excavated or opened to the public until after her death. Ponder THAT while you watch Colin Firth’s stunt double jump into that pond.
© Seumas Bates
‘Taking tea with Mama’ or whatever
Why is it that we were dressed like Jane Austen in a Roman bath? Why not like Romans in Jane Austen’s Georgian house? It makes just as much sense, really. In some ways, Roman culture is more similar to our own – take under-floor heating and regular bathing for example, two things we have that are not found in the Regency. Or sanitation, for another; the Georgians would urinate into a pot in the corner of the ballroom behind a temporary screen, a practice which I’m pleased to say was omitted from the festival ball, historical accuracy be damned.
If I sounded overly cynical about all this at the beginning of this article, it’s just because I’m a hetero-normative, euro-centric white male who is hiding his insecurities with banter, and who doesn’t want to admit that Persuasion is one of his favourite novels to the lads down the pub. Here’s the bottom line; would I go back next year? Damn right I would; in fact, I intend to be there next year, and I strongly encourage you all to join me. I’ll be the one in the tights
The Jane Austen Festival 2013 runs between September 13th and 21st. To learn more about this great author why not check out your local Jane Austen Society?
The queue for the chamber pot was horrendous
© Seumas Bates
I think to find our answer we return to the author herself. Jane Austen didn’t write about peeing into pots at balls, and she didn’t write about complex political and military intrigue which has relevance only so long as people still remember it, or are willing to go out of their
way to learn about it. Instead, she wrote about people falling in love, friendships, little miseries, and pretty dresses; things which today feel as current as when she penned them 200 years ago. When we read Jane Austen we’re offered a window into a different age, but an age from which our own grew, and by donning one’s bonnet and ‘stepping out’ onto the streets of Bath we can step through that window and live the life she described, if only for a week or so.
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the archaeology of contemporary henges Our resident prehistorian Rebecca Younger visits Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege and dares to ask, what’s the meaning of (bouncy) Stonehenge?
tonehenge captures the imagination of archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike, and has long inspired a worldwide phenomenon of making Stonehenge replicas. But these suggest that the public imagines henges in a very different way than archaeologists: in the world of henges, Stonehenge is completely unique. Is this a problem? And can we draw any comparisons between contemporary replica henges, and ‘real’ archaeological henges?
These were questions I began thinking about when I visited a life-size, inflatable replica of Stonehenge: the bouncy-castle megalith Sacrilege, created by Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller. Sacrilege started its tour of the UK in Glasgow in 2012 as part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. I went to see it the day after it opened, and couldn’t help but draw parallels between visiting Sacrilege and visiting an archaeological site.
A phenomenology of bouncing
©Rebecca K Younger
Arriving at Glasgow Green, I was greeted with an official-looking sign telling me about Sacrilege (looking in much better condition than many Historic Scotland interpretation boards I’ve seen). I approached the site along an avenue of trees, perfect for a bit of ritual procession. Finally reaching the site, I discovered…that it was closed. Apparently you’re not allowed on Sacrilege in ‘extreme weather conditions’, and the light mizzle we tend to get in Glasgow every now and then was considered ‘extreme’ enough to put an end to all bouncing for the day. (Most archaeological monuments are still open in the rain, as I’ve learnt on several cold, wet and muddy fieldtrips.)
As it turns out, this made the experience somehow more authentically hengey for me. A favourite family anecdote recounts my father’s childhood visit to Stonehenge, only to find it shut, allowing only a distant and underwhelming view of Stonehenge through a wire fence. At Sacrilege, I was treated instead to the whimsical sight of bedraggled volunteers mopping a megalithic bouncy-castle. I chatted with one of them, who looked askance and uncomprehending of the thought that anyone would want to research henges. On my second fieldtrip to Sacrilege, the weather was sunny, and bouncing was allowed. Sacrilege certainly looks like Stonehenge. A video on the Sacrilege website documents a visit by archaeologist and Stonehenge expert Mike Pitts, in which he recognises each of the inflated ‘stones’. In an interview with BBC news, Deller says that he created a bouncy Stonehenge because it allowed people to interact with the monument in a way they cannot with the original Stonehenge.
Sacrilege in the rain
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©Rebecca K Younger
WHAT IS A HENGE ANYWAY?
Stonehenge is, Deller claims, like British identity: ‘no-one knows what it is’.
While Sacrilege might look like Stonehenge, not all henges do. Stonehenge is literally the definitive henge – all henges are named after it. But, paradoxically, Stonehenge does not really conform to the strict definition of a henge. In archaeological terms, a henge is a circular earthwork monument, with an external bank and internal ditch, dating from the Late Neolithic – Bronze Age. At Stonehenge, the bank is inside the ditch. The name henge is thought to derive from an Anglo-Saxon word, which may refer to the horizontal stone ‘lintels’ at Stonehenge. Yet when an archaeologist uses the term ‘henge’, they refer to earthworks, and not (contrary to popular belief) a stone circle.
The interviewer, incongruously bobbing around in a smart suit, sounds mildly shocked, and proclaims that Stonehenge is ‘sacred’ to Britain. Perhaps he has forgotten that the inflatable he is standing on is called Sacrilege. Is Sacrilege actually sacrilegious? The implication is that somehow, larking about on a giant inflatable Stonehenge is not quite an appropriate treatment of the iconic trilithons. When I went to Sacrilege, there were kids running around everywhere, playing tag, hiding behind ‘stones’, and kicking the monoliths in futile attempts to knock them down. If people behaved like this at the original Stonehenge, eyebrows would be raised. It would fly in the face of our expectation that monuments should be conserved, preserved and protected.
To the rest of the world though, ‘henge’ is synonymous with Stonehenge. And indeed there is a great enthusiasm for naming anything resembling a trilithon (two upright stones with a horizontal ‘lintel’) as ‘-henge’, and for building structures to resemble Stonehenge. Thus we have Car Henge in Nebraska; Fridge Henge near Santa Fe, New Mexico (sadly removed a few years ago), and many more besides (I recommend the Clonehenge blog to see a wonderful collection of Stonehenge replicas – my favourites are the food henges).
© Luke Jones Flickr
This has not always been the case. Even the original Stonehenge has been used in ways that might indeed seem sacrilegious to modern archaeological sensibilities. A sheep fair was held there in 1680, while in 1781 the monument played host to a midsummer games, with events including ‘a sack-race, cricket, wrestling and bowling’ (Darvill 2006: 249). During the 19th century, people even chipped pieces off the stones (ibid.: 264). A bouncy castle in the image of Stonehenge doesn’t seem all that bad in comparison. But my two visits had got me thinking: why has Sacrilege been made to look like Stonehenge, rather than any other monument or landmark? If Stonehenge is an outlier among henges, what makes a ‘real’ henge? What about other, less bouncy examples of modern henges; do they count as ‘real’?
©Rebecca K Younger
The idea that the purpose of Stonehenge is mysterious is prevalent in many representations of the henge among non-archaeologists. Scandinavian comedians Ylvis went global with their song What’s the Meaning of Stonehenge?, which plays on the idea that nobody knows exactly what Stonehenge was for. Yet even archaeologists debate over the purpose of henges. The popular interest in what henges mean(t) has perhaps made archaeologists unwilling to engage with this or to see it as a ‘proper’ thing for academic study. But we cannot afford to neglect this issue; otherwise, the danger is that we leave the door open for endless ‘alien-druids built Stonehenge on a leyline’ theories.
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Achill-henge on a dreary day
Illegal henges and authenticity: the case of Achill-henge Achill-henge, near Pollagh, County Mayo is a ring of concrete ‘monoliths’, 4.5 metres tall, 30 metres across, and topped off with a Stonehenge-style lintel. It is reputedly built to align with solstices and equinoxes, and was constructed over the course of a weekend in November 2011. Having been built without planning permission, the structure has proven controversial. The mastermind behind Achillhenge was one Joe McNamara, who according to the Mayo News, is also known as the ‘Anglo Avenger’ for stunts carried out in protest against the Anglo Irish Bank. It turns out that willy-nilly henge building is not generally encouraged, and McNamara served three days in jail last year after continuing to work on the henge despite having been served with an injunction to stop. He has since been ordered to take the structure down. So, while Sacrilege is treated as an artwork, the construction of Achill-henge is seen as a criminal act. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Achillhenge however has been the public reaction to it. Just as the purpose of Stonehenge is often seen as mysterious, so Achill-henge has been mythologised. The Mayo News notes various interpretations of the structure. It is supposedly a ‘place for reflection’ although, the newspaper reports, many believe it to be a political statement – some have even claimed it to be a ‘tomb for the Celtic Tiger’. Just like its prehistoric
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counterparts, the lack of an obvious function or explanation for Achill-henge allows for a certain amount of speculation to enter into the interpretation of the structure. In fact, it is some of the most controversial aspects of Achill-henge which arguably make it more authentic. A local archaeologist objected to Achill-henge on the grounds that it is located less than 0.5 km from the site of a Bronze Age monument. While today it is not considered acceptable to erect structures on archaeological sites without archaeological evaluation being carried out (and rightly so), Neolithic and Bronze Age henges were almost invariably built on the site of earlier activity. Almost all henges excavated in Scotland are multi-phase sites which were used over centuries. They were used for a variety of purposes, including in some cases cremation cemeteries or the construction of other kinds of monuments, before the henges themselves were built. For all we know, this might have been as divisive and controversial in the Neolithic as it is now, but it was certainly a widespread and common practice in prehistory. Whatever henge monuments were for, an important part of this seems to have been that they were built on already ancient sites. Most people would probably still make a distinction between modern structures like Achill-henge and Sacrilege, and ‘real’, Neolithic
and Bronze Age henges. But in some ways, the ways we have treated archaeological monuments and the ways people use these two contemporary monuments is not dissimilar. Sacrilege is a place where you behave differently from how you normally would. In order to prevent bouncing anarchy, you are only allowed on Sacrilege if you follow certain rules, such as removing your shoes. This parallels archaeological thinking on henges, which are seen as ritual monuments where the architecture controls and directs movement, and where there would probably be rules and traditions governing what you were allowed to do. This also makes them liminal spaces, places marked out as special and different. Similarly, Achill-henge has been mythologised, and adopted by some members of the local community, in much the same way as an archaeological monument might be. This analogy between contemporary henges and ancient monuments perhaps reveals something problematic in the way archaeologists conceptualise monuments. Consider these quotes from Terence Young (2002: 4-8), a professor of geography: • ‘they have become major pilgrimage sites within today’s mass cultures’
This is probably a fair description of how some people see monuments – and of how Achillhenge and Sacrilege have also been viewed. But Young was not writing about the experience of visiting archaeological monuments. He was writing about theme parks. Maybe we have been guilty of turning monuments into something akin to a theme park, making them unreal and ‘other’, manufacturing a fictional experience of monuments that may as well be some kind of prehistoric Disneyland. Sites like Achill and Sacrilege may not be ‘authentic’ henges according to an archaeological definition, but non-archaeologists have used them, interpreted them and understood them in an equivalent way to how they understand prehistoric henges. And it all depends on how you define what a ‘real’ monument is. Does it have to be old? Perhaps some would balk at the idea of considering sites like Achill-henge or Sacrilege as ‘real’ henges, but they can certainly be treated in the same way as archaeological monuments. They can be visited and experienced in similar ways to Neolithic monuments. They have ‘biographies’, interesting (and potentially long) use-lives, with poorly understood origins. And, just like the original Stonehenge, they captivate the public, and encourage imagination, speculation and myth-making ¢
• they are places where ‘contradictory myths are often intertwined’, and where these myths are given ‘form’ and ‘place’ by the landscape
Further Reading Darvill, T. 2006. Stonehenge: The biography of a landscape. Tempus.
• places ‘removed in space and time from everyday life’, which ‘seem to be “outside” the everyday world because their landscapes, in contrast to other landscapes, appear timeless’.
Young, T. 2002. ‘Grounding the Myth – Theme Park Landscapes in an Era of Commerce and Nationalism’. In T. Young and R. Riley (eds.) Theme Park Landscapes: Antecedents and Variations. Dumbarton Oaks, 1-10.
Achill-henge on a good day
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RESTORING A RUIN
the gothic chapel Abandoned, vandalised and left to decay, the gothic revival Chapel at Coodham Estate, Ayrshire was designed by the Architect of the Museum of Natural History in London and was an important part of the life of the estate in the 19th & 20th centuries. David Watson details the research, design and construction phases of an ambitious restoration project to convert this ruin into a family home and breathe life back into this neglected building.
I am copyright info
Restoring a ruin: The gothic chapel
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Background & Historic Research
the roof and removing and vandalising interior fittings and fixtures. In the late 1990s the site was acquired by a new developer who ultimately secured planning permission to convert the now A-listed Coodham House to 6 flats and 3 family dwellings, one of which was to be in the former Chapel. Due to the extensive damage and vandalism which the Chapel had suffered over years of dereliction, historic books, records and photographs were essential in understanding the original appearance of the Chapel, and for detailing its local significance. Archived newspaper clippings were rich with information of social events at the chapel, such as organ recitals in 1909, curling matches on the frozen lake and details of the burials within the chapel graveyard on the north side of the lake.
he Gothic revival Chapel at Coodham Estate in South Ayrshire was built in 1874 as an annex to Coodham House, completed 43 years earlier. The then owner, Sir WH Houldsworth, commissioned Alfred Waterhouse to design the chapel, and Henry Holiday to design the stained glass windows. The building overlooks Coodham lake, to the north side of which is a small walled family graveyard. Following the death of Houldsworth in 1949 Coodham estate was sold to the Catholic Church to be used as religious retreat named Fatima House, but by the end of the 1970s the church was unable to fund the repair and maintenance costs and the fabric of the buildings began to deteriorate. In the 1980s the buildings were sold to developers, however none of the proposed redevelopment proposals came to fruition and the Chapel was severely neglected with vandals setting fire to
Above: Newspaper article of organ recital at Coodham Chapel & image of original chapel interior Previous page: Coodham Chapel before and after restoration
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Condition survey & design
The interior of the house was laid out with the vestry and organ wing being the circulation and stairway spine. This circulation spine would lead to the original nave which would house the main accommodation over 3 storeys comprising 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, the kitchen and the triple height living space. Original features such as the internal arch, the window arch and the hammer beam roof truss would be exposed to reveal aspects of the building’s original use. The open plan kitchen space on the ground floor would lead into a triple height gallery space flooded with natural light from the clerestory windows above.
It was agreed at an early stage the exterior appearance would be restored to largely match that of the original chapel with the main design alterations occurring within the internal spaces. This approach allowed the original
external character of the building to remain whilst accommodating the requirements of a contemporary home.
Although much of the interior and roof structure of the building had been removed or damaged the main stone shell of the building had remained in relatively good condition especially the ornate carved window arches. Some stone repairs would be required with stone replacements being carried out using petrographically matched red sandstone sourced from a local quarry. Wet and dry rot combined with severe weather damage meant that the entire roof and bell tower had to be replaced.
Clockwise from top left: Condition sketch of chapel; proposed floor plans; pre-construction interior
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Construction phase replicate roof members with matching profiles and woodworking joints; a similar process was employed by the stonemasons and roof slaters. Modern features such as sound, lighting and entertainment systems and high performance wall and roof insulation were integrated and concealed within the original fabric of the building.
ÂŠAll images Coodham Contracts
Throughout the construction phase the design team worked closely with local tradesmen ensuring the quality and authenticity of the restoration. Condemned elements of the roof structure such as the bell tower and the hammer beam trusses were removed and dismantled to allow the carpenters to study and produce new
Above: A selection of construction phase images including a workshop image of the rebuilt timber bell tower
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Above: A selection of interior & exterior pictures of the completed chapel restoration and an image of the entrance gate to the Coodham cemetry of the opposite side of the Coodham lake
Completion & legacy Converting a building which was originally designed as a church into a modern family home is a challenge that involves respecting the fabric and materials of the original building whilst meeting the needs of contemporary living. Whilst in an ideal world it would be good if the building was restored as a chapel with matching stained glass
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windows and internal fittings the reality is that it was not financially viable. Conversion of historic listed buildings such as the chapel secures and protects the properties for generations to come
Bringing back Bach
Careers in Ruins Professor Caroline Wilkinson
If you could introduce yourself? Caroline Wilkinson, Professor of Craniofacial Identification at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee. Could you give me a run-down of your career thus far? I started out doing anatomy and physiology, then I wanted to do something involving art, so I went and did art, then combined the two and did facial anthropology for my PhD. I worked in Manchester on and off for 20 years at the University, and then I moved to Dundee about 7 years ago. Could you give us a basic overview of what Forensic Anthropology actually is?
being used for living identification as well as identification of the dead. So would ‘living identification’ mean working with the police? I understand you’ve done some work with Crimewatch and the criminal justice system? My kind of forensic anthropology is quite specific in that I work with heads and skulls, and the majority of identification work that I’m involved in is to do with faces(either depicting the face of people who are dead, to help with identification, or comparison of living faces for recognition or identification purposes). So, the kind of things ©www.bbc.co.uk
Really forensic anthropology is the establishment of a biological profile, so usually that would be sex, age, ancestry group, stature - those sort of factors that we use to identify somebody. We’re involved with human remains, they don’t necessarily have to be skeletal human remains but that is usually, traditionally where forensic anthropologists have worked. But actually more and more now forensic anthropologists are
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I get involved with would be when there’s a dispute over identification from images like immigration or border control, cctv footage comparison, or when people are being looked for, things like images of missing children or [age] progression of criminals who have been missing for a long time.
Could you tell us about the equipment you use on a day-to-day basis?
We use quite a lot of computer equipment now, so we have a lot of digital equipment we can use for production of faces imagery, and also for analysis of skulls. We tend to use laser scanning to take 3D structures of skulls or of faces and computers to do measurements and depictions. But traditionally we would use mould-making and clay and standard anthropometry; measuring callipers – things like that. We tend to do the majority of that digitally now.
Could you tell us about your historical work? Because we’re involved a lot with the depiction of faces from the skeleton, inevitably this has led us into the archaeology and history area, so we’ve been asked to do depictions of faces of people from the past including well-known historical figures like [J.S.] Bach, Ramesses, and St. Nicolas. We also get involved with less famous people from the past so when there’s an archaeological investigation and a number of skeletons are found, one or two of them may be used to do a facial depiction so we can see the kind of people
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that they were as well as know about their personal details. Could you tell us a bit about your T.V. work with the show History Cold Case, and putting archaeology on T.V. more generally? The specific field that I work in is of interest to people because we’re all capable of making judgments on people’s faces, we do it every day and people are generally fascinated about the way other people look. So it’s a very useful thing to be able to depict what people from the past looked like. Inevitably we’re asked to get involved in television programs all the time because that’s quite a visual thing, it’s quite, you know, sexy to see the computer system and see a face appear where before there’s been a skeleton. History Cold Case was based around the Centre I work in in Dundee, and we had a number of people involved in looking at skeletons from different periods in time, working out the biological profile through anthropology, doing stable isotope analysis to find out where they came from; and then from my point of view, to do craniofacial analysis and find out what they looked like, or their most likely appearance. Is there any case that stands out as a real favourite? Well, there was quite an interesting case in the second series, a woman who had been found with neonates, new born baby skeletons, three of them. It was probably the least exciting I think for the archaeologists, and the most exciting for us. She turned out to be really quite ordinary looking, if that’s not an insulting thing to say! She wasn’t really attractive, she wasn’t really ugly, she didn’t have anything going on with her face, but, it was a really interesting project because it turned out she’d died in childbirth and had what’s called coffin birth. There’d been another child inside her that was birthed after she’d died and it was because she had triplets which was a very unusual thing. She was actually a perfectly healthy young woman but, ended up dying because this was such an unusual thing, having triplets in this period of time, and for me it was quite exciting. Actually, the less important the person, the more interested I am really! Is there one particular unsolved mystery of your career that really stands out? Good question! Well, we’ve done quite a lot of work with ancient Egyptians, I was involved with a case of what was thought to be Cleopatra’s sister, Arsinoe. I don’t know very much about the controversy surrounding whether it was her remains but I’d be quite interested to
know whether is was in fact Arsinoe. We did a reconstruction and she was really very attractive, which kind of worked with the story but it’s still not known for definite if it was her. So, if you could live in any historical era would you pick ancient Egypt? Oh, I don’t think I’d like to live in ancient Egypt, it sounded a bit brutal really, and there were so many power struggles going on – I don’t think I’d have time for that! I’m kind of tempted to go back to a Shakespearian era actually. Interesting, would Shakespeare himself be the draw? Yeah! I think it’s because it’s one of those periods in time we don’t know a huge amount about, but there’s all this significant writing and music that came out of that period so I’d quite like to go back and see exactly what it was like. What are you working on right now? Well, we’ve just done a three-dimensional computer depiction of Robert Burns, it’s really exciting! It’s due to be released relatively soon, obviously it’s all top secret in terms of what he looks like. So that’s quite exciting, and I’m working on some really old remains from an archaeological site in Malta.
Where should we be looking to see these things published? Well, the Burns thing will – I’d imagine– be all over the news anyway, cos he’s always big news isn’t he? Otherwise it tends to come out in archaeological science journals, because the other areas where I publish tend to be forensic journals and that’s not really appropriate for many of these historical cases. Seems like there’s a strong cross-over between the two fields? Yeah! Well, there’s always been a strong crossover between anthropology and archaeology, in fact there’s quite a lot of controversy about whether or not anthropologists and archaeologists can be the same practitioner because it’s just bones, and it’s the period of time they come from which is the difference really isn’t it between forensic [anthropology] and archaeology? It’s the same work, it’s just whether they are old bones or more recent. Many thanks for your time, we’ll be sure to plug your upcoming talk in Glasgow on Monday 8th April 2013
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The Backfill Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting crash turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. With muddy heather-filled boots But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of Hot Can smells that dropped behind. GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of rumbling, Fleeing the beansâ€™ revenge just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And floundering like a man in fire or lime.-Dim, through the misty panes of faulty flashlight At the GPS, we saw him frowning. In all our dreams, before our helpless sight, He plunges forward, waving (barely) not drowning. If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the car that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devilâ€™s sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, complaints Come gargling from fatigue-filled tongues, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, but curable sores on not-so-young guns,-My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To Freshers ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro Archaeologicae mori.
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Sometimes fieldwork does not go as planned, despite all the best intentions and efforts. Here is an anonymous tale of woe, with apologies to Wilfred Owen
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Issue 3: Myths and Monsters. As the Earth triumphs against another Apocalypse, we reflect on the stories we tell ourselves. This time, we ar...
Published on Dec 30, 2012
Issue 3: Myths and Monsters. As the Earth triumphs against another Apocalypse, we reflect on the stories we tell ourselves. This time, we ar...