An unusual use for ale

George Ewart Evans (1909-1988), British folklorist and oral history pioneer, has left a rich legacy of insight and information concerning rural life in England before the mechanisation of farming. His books and recordings are chock-full of golden nuggets, anecdotes and rustic remarks from ways of life that are increasingly beyond living memory. Most of his…

Continue reading

A brief history of my breakfast

So there was Earth. And on Earth formed the oceans. In the oceans grew simple-celled life, and these are the prokaryotes. From the prokaryotes grew complex-celled life, and these are the eukaryotes. From the eukaryotes grew multicellular life, some of which photosynthesised, and thus came plants to grow on the land and in the waters…

Continue reading

The History of the Countryside

Of course I had consulted it. Of course I’d cited it. But it’s taken a while to sit down and read it – properly, finally – from cover to cover. And it feels like a literary pilgrimage. What am I taking about? None other than “Rackham’s Countryside”, or more formally: Rackham, O. 1986. The History…

Continue reading

The Ghost of the Sea

Max Planck (1858-1947) was a trailblazer of quantum theory, that confusing branch of physics which describes the inherent unpredictability of the very small. It’s kind of appropriate, then, that researchers at his namesake foundations – two of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany – are shedding uncertainty in the tiny world of molecular archaeology. It’s…

Continue reading

Fashionably early?

After a long pause, the blog is back – and it’s a blog of surprises. These particular surprises reached my attention through both British Archaeology magazine and the online news pages of Science. For those of you lucky enough to have full-blown access to Science, the reference is this: Smith, O., Momber, G. et al.…

Continue reading

The Hidden Mysteries of Midden Histories

It’s been a while since I last blogged, and especially since I last blogged about the Lyminge Archaeological Project – a fantastic research excavation undertaken by Reading University which I’ve been following with great interest. I popped back down to visit the dig in sunny Kent this summer to catch up with the 2014 campaign…

Continue reading

Bringlish Landscapes

“That’s a classic,” said the man in the Oxfam shop, tapping the front cover of the little paperback. I nodded in agreement. “I thought it was about time I bought a copy.” There was a pregnant pause. “That’ll be one ninety-nine,” he intoned. And so it was that I bought a copy of a true…

Continue reading

Corn-dryers!

Yes, corn-dryers! There, I’ve said it, and there’s no going back. Familiarity, as the old saw goes, breeds contempt – or at least indifference. I think that sometimes that holds true for archaeology as much as anything else: there are certain topics that feel done, perhaps even overdone. Topics with which you feel you’ve spent…

Continue reading

Makin’ hay

OK, so there I was, strolling leisurely through the Tyrolean countryside in Austria on a beautiful sunny day, when out pops a bit of striking agricultural heritage. “Hello,” thought I, “this could be a little something for the ol’ blog back home.” And so it proves. Ladies and gentlemen, meine Damen und Herren, meet the…

Continue reading