Once upon a time I was, for a while, "Hawkeye", assistant to Big Chief I-SPY of the I-SPY Tribe. My job was mostly to be curious, to find stuff that would interest, excite, surprise and enthral the children who were the members of the I-SPY Tribe and who were exploring Britain armed with pocket-sized I-SPY Books. The concept of a couple of palefaces running a group that appropriated some visual aspects of indigenous North American culture would not be appropriate in these thankfully more sensitive times, but the idea of opening children's (and adults') eyes to the incredible detail that surrounds them in everyday life was, and is, a good one. The role suited me, for I am lucky in being insatiably curious, in having a buterfly brain that can flit easily from subject to subject, from task to task. This can of course be frustrating for others, as I zig-zag along country walks, peering at a lichen here, a liverwort there, a ruin here, a pond there. As an archaeologist I necessarily see my world in ways others might not, and so this web site reflects my vision, and I don't apologise for its slightly crazy mix of topics.
- When I lived in Leeds, on its eastern edge, in Cross Gates, our house was on Austhorpe Road. Round the corner was, until it was demolished in the 1930s, Austhorpe Lodge, the birthplace and lifelong residence in the eighteenth century of John Smeaton, a polymath, one of those early industrial characters who had a major influence on much of what followed. He is known as "the father of civil engineering", but he was much more. He was also an astronomer and an instrument maker. He improved Newcomen engines, one of which was installed at Austhorpe. I used to run and ramble across fields that were once pepperted with coal pits
DIG WHERE YOU STAND
The past as it is generally taught is populated by elites, by chiefs, generals, kings, princes, despots, politicians, religious figures, industrialists and the like. Sven Linqvist pointed out that in truth history is created by all the anonymous people who made up armies, workforces and those who support, are employed by or enslaved by leaders. He suggested that to investigate the past we should dig where we stand, that is, expore our immediate surroundings, the lives of our own people, our own pasts.
I'm attempting an experiment to see if I can create a sort of virtual museum of my own, as well as a collection of my own material culture, an archaeology of me, that reflects my life, not because either would be spectacular, but to demonstrate the value of prosaic objects in the ordinary lives that together make up history.
THE HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF MINIATURES
I am fascinated by the relationships between humans and the phenomenon of miniaturisation. Mass-produced miniatures, though ubiquitous throughout the last few centuries, have either been overlooked or given little value by historiucal archaeologists. I developed this interest in both my MA and PhD research, and my enthusiasm continues...
THE MINES OF SOUTH EAST SPAIN
La Union, east of Cartagena, Murcia, has been mined since pre-Roman times and is an industrial archaeologist's heaven. I explored its abandoned shafts and headgear with my camera in 2008.
I have a passion for forgotten and abandoned railway lines and tramways.
Since 2008 I've taken part in some 15 Waterway Recovery Group canal camps, helping to restore the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
- Last updated: January 2022
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