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Things I miss…

As we all know we are in the middle of a pandemic and if you are a good boy like me you have largely been in the house for the last ten plus weeks. Now I am lucky because this kind of thing doesn’t really bother me. If I have a cup of tea and a book I am largely happy but there are things I am missing that I would like to get to see again.

Church Crawling

From a very early age I have been going into church for fun. I am religious but I am also curious and love a good medieval or earlier church. To be honest I prefer the medieval because of the decoration. One of my favourite cathedrals is Carlisle Cathedral. We visited it after walking some of Hadrians Wall and I thought that it was one of the highlights of my holiday.

Museums

Now anyone who knows me knows that I never go to the Coventry Transport Museum unless I am compelled to do so. But I do miss going to museums and looking at exhibitions. Long after leaving the museum service I am still a member of the Museums Association. As I said in my previous post about being a historian one of my favourite songs is by the Levellers.

Performing

I am really looking forward to performing again. This is me performing Beowulf at Fargo in Coventry. I no longer have the big beard because I shaved it off in solidarity with my friends in the NHS. Beowulf but I also deliver lectures and discussion groups.

Meeting Friends

One of the best things about being interested in culture is how social it can be. I love coming to this bookshop and meeting my friends. You can have a good cup of tea, browse the books and chat.

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My Roman Fort

My first job in Coventry was working as a guide at the Lunt Roman Fort in Baginton near Coventry. In all honesty it was a mixed bag as all job are. I have some nice stories and some horrible ones but I think it best to dwell on the good and let the bad fade away. The work was mostly with schools but we also had special schools and sometimes adult learners. One of the most fun days was with the Cambridge Classical Association.

A map of all the different periods of archaeology at the Lunt site. Note that the site was not occupied continuously but repeatedly from the first century to the fourth.

The Lunt Roman Fort is one of the most important Roman sites in the country. It is unique in that it is the only reconstruction in situ, actually using Roman post holes, and the gyrus. The gyrus is a circular feature inside the walls which has been interpreted in various ways. I personally do not agree with the accepted interpretation, a horse training ring, but rather think that it was an enclosure for prisoners.

I had the privilege of meeting Brian Hobley at the Boudica conference which was one of the most exciting moments of my career.

I recently bought this on eBay because I love the Fort and like collecting information about it. Its an excellent report and really puts the vision (never realised) forward that the archaeologists intended.

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Why I am a historian

I have been thinking of why I am a historian and trying to work out why I ended up here.

I think that the first reason is that when I was growing up as a I hated school and found the whole thing impossible except for history. When I was studying history I had an excellent teacher who I really liked. I could do it and I was able to flourish.

Second I really like old things. I think that they have a value beyond their physical value. Yesterday I went for a walk in a stream and found prehistoric wood, broken pot from around 1600 and roman pottery. All completely worthless financially but a touchstone from another age, other people and other values. I am a terror to my wife in junk shops, on eBay and walking past skips. I want to save everything and passionately collect all sorts of nonsense.

Finally I am romantic. I love the song by the Levellers “Do I belong to some ancient race, I like to walk in ancient places.” and I do. I dislike the modern age that seems so desperate to divide itself from the past and set its face against our ancestors. Do people not realise that the luxury of the modern age is only possible by the hard work of the past?

And that is it. I think we owe the people of the past a debt of gratitude. We need to value the past as we look to the future and seek to preserve the best of the past to hand onto our children.

Rant over.