Stonehenge Excavations

Bluestones and Trilithons

Originally uploaded by lilith_kayt.

I’m in awe… as I type the project I was working on last week is making the national news headlines! It’s been so hard knowing what I was up to, and how amazing it is, and not being able to blog about it ’till today! It’s why I’ve been a bit quiet of late, I didn’t trust myself not to spill the beans early!

I’m not taking part in the actual excavations, and so I’m not going to talk about that part; I will leave that to the experts and to the live feed webcams and updates on the BBC website that has been set up to follow this historical work, here. I strongly urge anyone interested to hop over and have a read- it will be being updated throughout the week. I will be glued to it I expect!

My part was very humble, I was assisting my other supervisor (Tim Darvill being my main one), Paul Cheetham, who is a geophysics expert, in conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey ahead of the excavations, to help locate the previous trench and contextualise the excavation in a wider area. I was so excited to be there, I was like a bouncy six year old kid! I’ve visited before, and driven up the A303 past the monument many times, but I have never been in amongst the stones before.

It’s a totally different experience. Walking on the pathway, you know they are big, you hear the measurements in the descriptions, but you aren’t physically co-present with them in the same way, you can’t see all the little differences in texture and colour, or how they sparkle after the rain. You don’t hear so well how the flat panels of the bigger stone settings throw sound around, and you don’t get a sense of how crowded and claustrophobic the centre of the monument feels to stand in. I’m only 27, and really just starting out in my career, so in many ways, I don’t want this to be the ‘peak’ of my career, but what else could compare, really?

I’m very, very lucky-at the right University, and at the right time in my supervisor’s career to be asked to assist on a project like this. Right now I am so glad I took those risks I talked about a while back, and took the plunge into PhD research and walked out of my comfort zone!

There were a family of what I think were Jackdaws living on the stones. They spent all day playing, tumbling of the stones fighting and calling to each other. I also saw starlings getting very well fed by tourists at the cafe, various birds of prey hoping to snack on fat starlings, the evidence of many many voles living in among the stones, wag tails and many sheep helping keep the grass down! It was a magical two days, and I’m wishing Tim, Geoff and the excavation team lots of luck and great weather for the next two weeks. I’m going to be following their progress with interest on the web, and really hope the survey results prove useful and accurate!

I have more photo’s to put up, taken with a better camera, but I need to wait ’till all the technical ones of the survey in progress have been downloaded first!

Ooh, I should also link to a photoset of mine on Flickr of some work I did last year that is part of the same project, looking at the area the stones came from in the Preseli Hills!

Edited To Add: There is also a page up on the EH website here with video updates and more information about the site, and visiting Stonehenge.

… and a confession about pens

OK, my previous post had a little fib in it.

I am as weird as my dad about pens.

I sat down to plan my Transfer document (some of you might know this as the ‘Upgrade’- the examination that moves your from MPhil to PhD), and found that I couldn’t because I didn’t have the right kind of pen.

I like to plan with chunky fibre tipped pens. Like nicer versions of the felt-tip-pens we used as kids. It just didn’t feel right sitting down to block out paragraphs, sections and arguments with a normal pen, be it fineliner, rollerball or fountain pen.

So Dad? I’m sorry. You are not alone in your freakish pen obsession.

Cas also has a thing about the perfect pen, but hers is a quest for the perfect writing tool. Mine is specific to the task of planning. It must be with a fibre tipped pen, and not a fine one, no 0.3, which is Dad’s preference, or 0.5 or 0.7 which I like for writing with. Not even 1.0, which I sometimes use. Nope, proper felt tip pen type thickness of nib. Only that will do.

The PhD stress may be getting to me…

Neko out- off to book a week on Dartmoor and hopefully 2 weeks at Flag Fen! Woot!

A little note about notebooks

My notebooks

Originally uploaded by lilith_kayt.

A while ago, Cas posted a photo of all her notebooks to flickr… I foolishly mocked her, not realising I am in fact much, much worse…

Then she posted about her love of notebooks on her blog, and I joined in with great enthusiasm, empathising with finding a notebook close to perfection, and then having to desecrate it with my less-than-perfect handwriting, thoughts and sketches…

Then I realised how many notebooks I had, just while I was away at uni, and how many more I have at home… go take a look at the pictures on flickr– they have notes in a feeble attempt to explain why I need six (yes, SIX) notebooks just to get through a week at uni…

I’ve hoarded notebooks since I was a little girl, yet the last 9 weeks (and counting) is the longest I have ever kept a day-by-day journal for. There is just something perfect about all those empty pages, pregnant with potential… It seems terrible to destroy the promise they hold of the perfect works of art, of poetry that they  could  contain, if only I were up to the task…

I spend hours drifting around stationery shops, questing as Cas does for the perfect notebooks, those that look or feel ‘just right’… it drives the not-spouse creature insane. He turns and says to me often, ‘but you have not written in the ones you already have!’ How do I explain this fetish for the perfect notebook, the belief that if only I can find something perfect enough then my words will flow into it perfect as well? How to explain the allure of the new-paper smell, the dizzying raw potential of that first page, turned back and carefully smoothed down along the spine…

ahem, where was I?

My Dad is different- he is indifferent to what he writes on- close lined spiral bound notebooks are what he prefers, not shiny, pretty hardbound books that are works of art in themselves. He obsesses over pens though. I’ve yet to see a whole page of writing of his that is in the same colour for a start! I have many pens, but I’m not as weird about them as he is, honest 😉

Neko out. I’m off to smell my notebooks and hope no-one catches me doing it…

Oh, in other news, some cheeky little sod stole the lights off my bike this weekend. I’m not best pleased. You’d think if someone was conscientious enough to WANT lights for their bike, they’d be beyond stealing to get them? Grr…

Rites of passage…

Leap Party

Originally uploaded by lilith_kayt.

The other chap in the photo above is a very dear friend of me and the not-spouse, who is getting married next month. This weekend just gone we went to his stag do, which was amazing… and is responsible for my guest-blogging over at Brightmeadow being late… It got me thinking about rituals, and the theory (that I agree with) that they are about marking changes in someones’ life, and announcing them to the world…

In the modern west, up until recently, people were Christened (introduced to the community), Confirmed / Baptised (their transition to adulthood was recognised), Married ( the union recognised and approved by the community) and then Mourned (allowing recognitionin the community of their death and the changes this brings). In ethnographic examples, we have ceremonies to celebrate and recognise adulthood, but in the secular west these are often missing… we have no ‘rites of passage’, just this perpetual teenage hood, in which we become pseudo-adult earlier and earlier, worrying about our bodies and attractiveness… and a stretch at the other end as we struggle to get onto the property ladder. I’ve heard anecdotal tales of parents wanting to come into (and pretty much take over) the admissions interviews of their offspring for university! I can’t help but think some of ‘what is wrong with youth today’ has something to do with this…

I’m 27 this year, the same age my Mum was when she had me… she had been married for four years by then, and unlike many of my friends, I was definitley ‘planned’- her and my Dad had decided they were ready for kids, and I think they did a pretty good job in some very difficult circumstances. But I know I’m not ready to have kids. I don’t know if I ever want them. I don’t really feel like a ‘grown up’ either… This disparity in our life- timelines has got me thinking a lot. I’m nowhere near any conclusions but I’ll blog them when I have them!

I meant to write about a lot more tonight- my trip to Brighton for the stag do and the joys of meeting up with old friends, the fox I saw on my way home from swimming, the fact that I’ve already hit my first size/weight goals, 7 weeks ahead of time, plans for fieldwork, general musings on life, but I shall save that for another time- right now I’m off to bed as I’m teaching tomorrow for four hours, and even if I don’t feel grown up I do feel responsible for my lovely third year students!