Friday, November 13, 2015

Glastonbury fieldtrip

Last week we took the first year anthropology students to Glastonbury. Our archaeology expert, Dr. Stuart Prior, guided them through the archaeological context so they could understand the site's rich history. The region's legacy informs many aspects of everyday life and this was explored under various themes (food, ritual, commodities, etc.) - students were divided into fourteen groups and conducted their own research throughout the day.

I documented the experience and made a short video - check it out!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The wonders of Cornwall

Who knew that the cradle of Egyptian civilisation rests in Cornwall? No one, because it doesn't, but that won't stop the wildlife and dinosaur park from creating a display to that effect. Radically pointless.
Cufu of Cornwall
I finally got to visit Tintagel and only got moderately sunburnt. Besides the steep walks, it was magical.
So many steps....
It is stupidly pretty in all directions
Fally down walls aplenty
Smashing in summer, demented in winter
We took time to visit the picturesque town of Clovelly too. Along the pebble beach is a lush waterfall.
The view through Clovelly
You can run right under the waterfall

Capped off with sunset on the beach

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Big booms and salty tears

Shall we start with the big news, and get it out of the way? Only the little fact that our excavations on Hatteras Island have been covered by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Seriously, natgeo, the legends themselves hopped over to see what we've been working on, and they loved it.

In other news, we were back at Berkeley Castle yesterday to do a little filming with Dr. Ruth Farrar of SheExtreme.
The greatest joy of sound recording? You get to tell other people to be quiet and don't get in trouble for it ;-)

Meanwhile, the PhD is ticking along and progress has been made with significant rewrites and pushing myself boldly where I really don't want, but need, to go.

In June, I hosted my favourite ninja friends on a visit from Ireland. Last month, was full of ups and downs.  I helped out with the National Sustainable Schools SEED Conference, doing bits of filming for their online content. I got a chance to work with the Realising Opportunities students I am tutoring. A bunch of archaeology students led an interactive bonanza of archaeological goodness for all the family as part of the Festival of Archaeology. Unfortunately, the month also marked the passing of my ever-vivacious granny Nancy, a fine woman who reached the grand age of 97 with all her own teeth and a wicked sense of humour. Card shark, messer, shenanigans-instigator... we will miss her forever.

Tierney Towers will probably be very quite for the next couple of months as I gradually build a cocoon filled with papers, books and calcified tears - that's right folks - the final months of the PhD are upon me and I am rightly TERRIFIED!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sustainability and cake

My sustainable development education role at the University means a lot to me. I've been working at it for over 3 years and, while it's not archaeology *my one true love*, the subject is worthy of the attention it is starting to get nationally. Plus, I'm constantly finding new and exciting ways to re-assess archaeology and anthropology by reflecting on broader issues of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). So, you can imagine my surprise and glee when I got nominated and then shortlisted for a Sustainability Award, part of a larger annual Awards programme run by the Bristol Students' Union.
You can see all the categories and shortlisted people here:

This comes quick on the heals of the accreditation received institutionally as part of the NUS's "Responsible Futures" initiative, in which thirteen other universities participated. We were delighted to have all our hard work acknowledged. For us, this wasn't some tick-box exercise or agenda-laden league  table. It was more important as a means of showcasing the large-scale team effort and successes across the whole institution and the Students' Union, and also serves as a transparent benchmarking trial.
Read the Uni's press release on this student-led social responsibility and sustainability scheme:
There won't be a cake left in sight.
In other news, things are moving along nicely at Berkeley with all my engagement projects. Today brought a massive burst of joy onto site when legendary archaeologist and BAJR leader, David Connolly, gave us £100 to spend on cake to thank the community of Berkeley for their participation in the Town Museum project. We're just winding down on the project now, but the feedback we've received so far has been immensely positive. Critically for me, the students have seemed to love it too, learning and developing an arsenal of transferable skills.

Tomorrow's task - buy all the cake.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Berkeley 2015

Most of May has been taken over by prep for Berkeley and then getting back on site. It's the 11th year of excavations and the new batch of freshers are learning the ropes. I'm in my third season or leading engagement efforts that site alongside the digging. You can see an overview of my plans here:
The Public Archaeology 2015 project is pretty awesome, so I would encourage you to check it out - a new project is covered every month! I'll be posting more on Berkeley over the next few weeks.
Miniature castle in front of the real castle. Well meta. Xzibit would be proud.
The Town Museum project was my pet project for this year, and it has made quite the impact on the local community. Read more here - University of Bristol press release:
We even went on site on Bank Holiday monday to give free tours *commitment* 
We've been experimenting with 3D artefact and feature imaging, social media, pubic engagement and focusing on student transferable skills development.... busy busy!
Follow us here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Back in time at Berkeley

We are gearing up for another student-training and research excavation at Berkeley Castle, starting from 18th May. While going through the archive I found some pics back when I did some digging in the churchyard in 2011 (new toilet pipe was going in, so glamorous). Don't forget to catch up with us during this season- facebook - twitter - blog.

They keep us working fast by threatening diggers with machinery (not really, they are all very lovely)

A difficult spot to dig, I can promise you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Where spelunking and speleology meet

Not really, but I love those words, spelunking and speleology. Rolls off the tongue better than "archaeological site recording at a listed artificial commercial cave site".

I was recently back at the Hell-Fire Caves to make some additional notations to my laser scan data. Thanks to fellow PG Charlie Goudge for bed, board &; survey assistance (and photos!). Her granny joined us half way through for a visit, which was a first. More fieldwork should feature grannies.

The more times I'm in the "Childrens Cave", the creepier it gets

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dig Hatteras

Since late March, I have been helping out on Prof. Mark Horton's excavations on Hatteras Island, North Colony. The site is tied to the lost colony of America, so there is lots of excitement and intrigue. Catch up on the project here:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spot the stupid

There are places on the internet where people have trawled through Google's scanned books and collated the traces of the people who scanned the books. Sometimes, a single purple digit, or a shadowy hand, a curled page or a strange reflection.
Today was the first time  I found a super clanger example. Someone, somewhere was scanning a book and I think they may have been drunk or hungover. Just look at the state of this - they weren't even trying.
I've added some useful sarcastic text to help you spot the gaffs

Play at home or with friends "spot the stupid"

It even happened, less frequently, on text pages

Partial focus on the tip of a digit

Even the fingers look like there is something wrong with them

Angles are just a concept. Sideways is best.

I really do recommend a glance through "The Art of Google" to see some much more spectacular examples:

You can also scroll through the example I found, learn about Cistercian Architecture, and play "spot the hand":

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Autodesk is amazing

Just downloaded a host of Autodesk programmes for free via the University's licensing agreements with the company. After only a few minutes, I had my 3D laser scan data of the Hell-Fire Caves in an accessible format. Whoop whoop. Too much excitement. Some of the views even look quite painterly and pretty.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) were kind enough to send me the raw data over the last couple of months (thanks Lee!) (following our fieldwork last year) and it's been an interesting learning curve getting a handle on data that so massive!

A painterly view of the Hell-Fire Caves laser scan data using Autodesk

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Patronising Poet

Those eighteenth-century dudes really knew how to make a lady feel special. Paul Whitehead, famed for his associations with the Hell-Fire Clubs was no exception. He cared so much for the fairer sex that he wrote a song, literally addressed to the ladies. *player*

My favourite bits are from the first and last stanzas:
Bright eyes were intended to languish, not stare,
And softness the test of your sex...
But, if Amazon-like, you attack your Gallants,
And put us in fear of our lives,
You may do very well for Sisters and Aunts,
But, believe me, you'll never be Wives, Poor Girls...
Read the full poem here. If you aren't familiar with old type formatting, just imagine most of the "f"s are actually "s".

Look at him, pointing out how to be a "lady"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Christmas stone circles

As one does when back in the home country, I spent Christmas with the family. And what better way to start the festive morning, than with a quick trip to some awesome stone circles at Grange, Co. Limerick.
The locals keep an eye on the site and you pay a small fee at the gate to enter