Agincourt 603

Happy 603rd Agincourt Anniversary and St. Crispins’ Day! It’s once again time for my yearly medieval history lecture about why you should care as much about Henry V as I do.

Other notable events today:

  • 164th anniversary of the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War which was immortalized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’  If you haven’t read the poem the basic takeaway is: there are somethings bigger than yourself.
  • 154th anniversary of the Battle of Marais de Cygnes one of three battles fought in Kansas to end Price’s Raids, a series of Confederate offensives spurred by Major Gen. Sterling Price to re-establish Confederate control in the Mississippi Valley prior to the 1864 Presidental Election.
  • 3rd Year Anniversary of the Misery Meet.  For those who know, you know.  For those who don’t just imagine 25km, trench foot, a false sense of security upon arriving at a bothy that wasn’t your bothy, and walking all the way around a sea loch with your bothy in sights.

But, anyway.  I’m not going to bore you with the specifics of Agincourt… you can read the Wikipedia article for that.  In fact, I’m not really even going to write a new post because basically this post doesn’t really change year to year.  Don’t tell the Uni, but, I’m going to self-plagiarize some quotes still relevant stuff from I wrote in 2016.  So please excuse 19-year-old Kennedy, but I still think she’s pretty clever and has a lot to say.

Today is St. Crispin’s day aka the 601st anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.

But, Kennedy! That happened soooooo long ago!! Why should we care?!?!

Glad you asked.

I believe that part of the reason a lot of people find history boring is because they cannot place themselves in ‘the world’ in which is happened.  It becomes disconnected, people lose interest, the actions of the past are forgotten.  But, by creating a relationship between the past and the present, history becomes accessible and in a lot of ways, lives again.  Keeping history alive requires people to continue this dialogue keeping it relevant and relatable.

Picture this: You’ve been walking for days.  You’re tired.  You’re hungry.  You’re sick.  You’re on the run from a group of powerful people who want you dead – a group that outnumbers you six to one.  But amidst all off this – the guy in charge is trudging right along side you.  He’s tired too.  He’s starving too.  He’s sick too.  The people who want you dead want him dead ten times over.  But, that doesn’t matter because you swore to each other to get to the end of this.  Neither of you intend to break that promise.

Those are the circumstances that faced Henry’s army at the dawn of October 25, 1415.

His army numbered just under 6,000, with 4,000 being peasant bowmen.  The other 2,000 were a mix of knights and men-at-arms.  They had been on a frantic retreat for nearly two weeks, attempting to make their way back to the Channel.  In a last ditch effort, they established camp at the top of a muddy hill.  They braced themselves at the break of dawn, expecting the worse to come from the amassed group of heavily armoured French knights, numbering nearly 36,000, waiting below.  Had Henry wanted, he could have slipped away in the night, retreated to England, and saved his own skin.

Instead, Henry stayed with his starving army, made up of peasant bowmen, because he had made them a promise.  He doesn’t even take the night to rest.  Disguised as one of them, he speaks to his troops earnestly and honestly wishing to hear their views of the upcoming battle.

Then at the break of dawn, he gave his infamous speech, later immortalized by Shakespeare, about loyalty and honesty.  Addressing his men as ‘his band of brothers’ and making a vow to fight and if necessary die beside them.  And he kept his promise.  French eyewitness accounts write of Henry fighting in the front lines.  Just to make sure you caught that, that’s the French praising the leadership and bravery of their enemy.

Against all odds, Henry won the day.  He lost 112 men.  The French casualties numbered over 12,000.

It’s not the medieval warfare that makes this story relatable but its spirit of loyalty and leadership.  Against all odds, Henry refused to give up and in the end his faith in his men and their faith in him won the day.

For us today, the historical spirit of Agincourt lives on each moment we push ourselves just that bit farther.  It’s relevant again each time we remain loyal to our friends treating them with respect and honesty.  But, the most important lesson for Agincourt is how we should treat those we work with and who work for us with that same loyalty and honesty.

Some people at this point may wonder: Henry was king of England, what did he actually owe to a group of peasants?

A lot of people would probably say he owed them nothing.   He’s their king, their boss.  He can do what he wants.  I would argue the opposite.  He is their boss and that makes him even more accountable for his actions and his leadership.  Good leaders lead by example – they are shoulder to shoulder with their people not hiding behind them.  They have to be the one to accept the responsibility.   If you expect respect, you first have to give your own.

You could say good leaders devote their lives to the protection of their followers.  They make personal sacrifices for the good of those they represent.  They do not, like a certain Republican presidential nominee [now President], disrespect based on religion, gender, or ethnicity, blatantly lie, or refuse to be held accountable for their actions.

Good leaders, good people, value every person no matter their rank or role in society.

Henry didn’t discriminate between the peasants and the nobility in his army.  This is evidenced by how the English kept their casualty records.  The 112 includes everyone from the lowest peasant bowmen to Henry’s uncle, the Duke of York.  The French list of 12,000 only includes nobility, excluding the countless others without rank.

Henry handled his army with unprecedented social equity basing rank and prestige on personal achievement not patronage or social status.

To put this in a civilian perspective, as long you work hard, remain loyal and honest, no matter your social status you will receive equal treatment and respect.

My father stresses this sense of loyalty and honesty a lot.  (He’s a US Marine and a General in the Air Force so no guesses as to why he made those two things so important.)  He was actually the person who first showed me the St. Crispin’s Day speech.

My mother also lives by this same code of leadership.  There have been dozen of times I’ve returned home late to find my mom still working.  Even though she’s a vice president of a decent sized company, she always tells me the same thing, ‘If someone who works for me is working, so am I.’

So in that small way – that’s how I’ve kept the history of Agincourt alive and relevant.  It’s not the original physical context. I’m not a medieval longbowmen.  Hell, I’m not even English.  But it’s not a stretch to say I’ve kept it in the original thematic context with some extra influence from my parents.

Dold, K. Y. 2016. ‘Agincourt 601’ Ad Caledonia. Available at: https://adcaledonia.com/2016/10/25/agincourt-601/ (accessed 24 October 2018).

I think 19-year-old Kennedy summed it all up pretty nicely, if at times going on a few side tangents.

This post was written prior to the 2016 Election and as we near the 2018 Election (in just 13 Days)… just think about how you promote leadership in your own life.  I’ve learned a lot about leadership in my ‘short and naïve 21 years.’

And sure, 1415 wasn’t some social liberated wonderland.  But, those themes of loyalty, honesty, and respect and the phrase ‘band of brothers’ translates pretty closely to ‘we the people.’ (And yes, I mean all the people… not just the people who look/act like you.)

Just think about these things when you’re out bopping about.  What have you done to help those around you?  Are you expecting the same from them as you expect from yourself?  Are you setting a good example? There’s a reason Henry V is still talked about 603 years later.

But, when you do something for the right reasons you don’t expect praise.  You do it because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s been a week.

It’s been a week – so much so that I wrote this a week ago and postponed publishing it until now because I was *stressed.*

I’ve been busy crying over building a scale model of an Iron Age roundhouse, I got my first piece of assessment back (I got a 72 on my presentation about Roman Graffiti in my Early Medieval Sexualities course!), and I voted via absentee for the mid-term elections.

I spent the last weekend in the Lake District with the EUMC.  We stayed in the Langdale Valley and the weather was great until it wasn’t.  On Saturday, Gregor drove Ellie, Alven, and I to Hardknott the Roman fort built onto the side of a hill.

The fort was built between 183-203 CE and it’s one of the best preserved forts I’ve ever seen.  It still had the stone foundations of the granary, Principia, and commanding officers house as well as a near complete surrounding curtain wall.  Hardknott even had a bath complex and surviving parade/practice ground!  During a wall walk I discovered the still functioning Roman drainage system that would have drawn water away from the center (and most important part) of the fort.  After eating lunch in the granary, Ellie, Alven, and I walked the 10 miles back to the campsite following the path of the old Roman highway system built to connect Hardknott to the other forts in the area including the one in Ambleside.  The road was also used in the medieval period as there’s a record from 1182 of a bunch of monks in an ox cart traveling the road.

That evening we returned once more to the infamous Old Dungeon Ghyll where they have Old Peculiar on tap.

View this post on Instagram

ab antiquo ad aeterno.

A post shared by 🌻kenndol (@baeowulf_) on

On Sunday, I had reading to do for class and Gregor had to work on his dissertation proposal so he drove myself, Ellie, and Alven to Ambleside.  The weather wasn’t super great either so I didn’t feel too guilty about not spending the day in the hills.  I had just finished a paper on early medieval monasticism when I glanced at the television and saw ‘Breaking: Kavanaugh confirmed for US Supreme Court’ running along the bottom ticker.

I stopped, put my pen down and quickly left for the bathroom where I spent the next ten or so minutes crying in frustration and then trying to recompose myself in the mirror so I could return to my work.  And, I’m not telling you this to extract your pity.  I’m telling you this so you understand.

As children, we are taught not to throw a fit in public.  As adults, we can shout and yell until our face turns red.

As children, we are taught to answer questions asked of us eloquently and with respect.  As adults, we can respond with a snarky, ‘Have you?’

As children, we are taught we have to work hard and be qualified for our jobs.  As adults, we expect to be automatically given what we want.

As children, we are taught to believe in Santa Claus and are held accountable for our actions or else we’ll get coal for Christmas.  As adults, we refute the under oath testimony of women and refuse to hold people accountable for their actions.

Why is it that we hold children more accountable for their actions then adults?

I watched the hearings, I followed the joke of an FBI investigation, and I once again had to explain to my friends why it’s still currently 1917 within the borders of the United States of America.

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh scares me.

It scares me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about women, does not believe women, and will not take the required steps to protect the civil liberties and rights of women.

It scared me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about, believe in, or will protect me, my mother, my sister, my aunts, my grandmothers, my cousins, or my friends.

I shouldn’t have to tell you these things to make you believe me, but just in case you want to see my credentials to speak on this subject: I have been groped in nightclubs. I have had explicit things shouted at me on the street. I have had been called ‘a bitch’ and a hell of lot worse.  I have been stalked.  I have had multiple men become angry when I told them they were making me uncomfortable.  My friends have those same stories and more.

Male readers, if that was uncomfortable for you to read then you can only imagine how I felt.

And, before you ask why I didn’t stop it or prevent it let me tell you this: yes, I have a second degree black belt and ten years of martial arts experience.  Yes, I went to the university and I went to the police – but that’s not the point.  Sexual harassment and assault do not happen when you are expecting it and are often in places you know and committed by people you know.  It’s not the stranger in the dark alley that so many people want us to believe it is.  It’s sort of like how this post started out as a gentle recount of my travels to a Roman fort and then changed abruptly…

Also, how about we stop blaming women for things that happen to them and start holding the people who actually did it accountable, m’kay?  How about instead of a reactionary culture we adopt a preventative one?

This past week has made those feelings of helplessness and fear resurface and as someone who really hates feeling helpless – it was sickening.  I watched as a man screamed and yelled his way onto the Supreme Court like it was something that was owed to him.  I watched the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford as she came forward to a panel of people and recounted a horrible event in her life.  An event that, I might add, she would not lie about.  Why would she?  Why cause a fuss out of nothing?  Dr Ford has been forced to move out of her home due to death threats.  Her life has been upended because she spoke out.  With everything to lose (and as we saw little to gain) why come forward with something that isn’t true?  Why go to the trouble to get all the way to Washington DC for false allegations?

And when Kavanaugh was confirmed, that flood of emotions, frustration, and helplessness erupted and caused me to cry for ten minutes half way across the world in a restroom in Ambleside.

At this point, it’s beyond planks in a political platform for me.  I’ve already cast my ballot for people I know will care about me, believe me, and fight to protect my rights.

Things must change.

Women cannot be treated as second class citizens.

Their testimony must not be treated as ‘a hoax.’

I urge you this November, in just 19 days, to think about the women in your own life and do the same.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

 

 

 

 

i wrote a thing and return to scotland

hey pals!

Sitting in Chicago O’Hare waiting to board my next flight back to Edinburgh to begin my last year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh.  I say last year of my undergraduate because we all know that I will attempt to prolong my eventual exodus from Academia as long as possible.  Gotta keep my student discount at the cinema people!  I’m writing from a chair this time instead of sprawled on the floor – so maybe this is the uneventful, lackluster evidence of my passage into adulthood we’ve all been patiently waiting for?

But anyway, this past week was spent in Lawrence showing Gregor, Tuva, and Erling the old stomping grounds.  And of course, it had to be the only week out of the entire year that it rained for 5 days straight.  I mean, it was good for the soybeans at least? Either way, I hope that the three of them had a great time!  I showed them Downtown Lawrence, Clinton Lake, we went to the Grinter Sunflower Farm, and got smothered by corporate love by a Bud-Light rep at the Bull who upon finding out that 2 Norwegians and 1 Scot were outside with a bunch of Lawrence Townies proceeded to give us 8 pitchers of Bud-Light on the house (in addition to the three pitchers we already had).  And yes, before you ask, we finished it all because we are not going to leave any soldiers on the field – just who do you think we are?

Other happenings… I got an op-ed published!  It’s all about youth in History and today’s political landscape.  I wrote it for REEK Perfume, a local perfume company based in Edinburgh run by a mother and daughter who create scents in honor of Historical Women.  Their perfumes are ethically sourced, cruelty free, and their ad campaigns aren’t retouched!  I’ll link to their website hereI copied the first few paragraphs from the article so you can get a sense of the piece, but please go to their website to read the full thing so they (and I) get the traffic and reading numbers!  Constructive feedback and nice comments always warranted as well!

Writer Kennedy Younger Dold looks at the phenomenal success of youth activism in politics today through the lens of history… 

All over the land, the kids have finally startin’ to get the upper hand.
They’re out on the streets, they turn on the heat,
And soon they could be completely in command.
(Sweet, 1974)

Museums and galleries are quiet places. The stern, official portraits of historical figures make it all too easy to forget the vitality of the stories on display. But, those tales demand to be told. They are the stories of the young, the restless and the rebellious. History tells us stories of many young people who achieved notoriety.

In 1777, Sybil Luddington rode twice as far as the more famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn of attacking British regulars during the American Revolution.  Not only did she ride twice as far, but at 16, she was half his age as well. Joan of Arc was 17 when, leading from the front, she inspired the French army to victory after victory during the Hundred Years War with England. Henry V was 29 at the Battle of Agincourt.  Flora MacDonald was 24 when she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. Victoria was 18 when she became Queen. Alexander the Great conquered and created an empire at the same age. Mary Shelley, at 20, published Frankenstein.  At 23, Nellie Bly was exposing inhumane conditions in American asylums.  To pile on even more extraordinary achievement, she traveled around the world in 72 days… just to beat the fictional record set in Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days.  Flash forward to the 20th century and the rise of the self and culturally aware teenager.  In 1977, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia (age 19) (although fictional) brought hope to a galaxy far, far away. Young people shaped the post-war years: staging protests, fighting for civil rights, and writing pretty incredible music.

(Click to Continue Reading Here)

Classes this year are going to be pretty awesome and I’m looking forward to them.  I played the system and don’t have any exams – so my exam anxiety is over and I’ll actually feel like I’m researching and learning something new versus trying to memorize a bunch of facts that I’ll forget once I flip over the paper.  That and my professors will actually be able to read my essays instead of trying to deceiver my left-handed, I took Ancient Greek disaster script.

I have a full year course for my Dissertation on the Architectural Archaeology and Cultural Heritage of the Botanic Cottage the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a semester in Architectural Archaeology (to help with the dissertation), a full year Archaeological Fieldwork course, and a full year history course on Medieval Sexualities 500-1000 AD.  That last course will focus on the post-Roman world, Monastic structures, and early medieval female leaders (and fingers crossed for some warladies thrown in as well.) It was this course or one on Early Medieval Botany but the botany course had a three hour exam so f*** that.  I’d rather write longer essays.

I’m still kicking around the Mountaineering Club, and there’s Fresher’s Week to help out with when I get back.  I’m quite excited this year as I plan on hiking up to Hardknott when I’m in the Lakes this October.  Hardknott is a Roman Fort up on a mountain side in the Langdale Valley.  From it’s position it probably served as a defensive outpost for the other fort located in Windermere.  It wasn’t occupied for long – probably because it’s up a mountain and it also is very well preserved (again because it’s on a mountain side so limits the visitors.)

But, that’s about all at the moment.  I’m sure you’ll hear from me again soon. But until then…. with tolerance and respect. byeeeeeeeee.

straight outta lfk.

Hey pals!  It’s me, writing from the authentic and original Lawrence, Kansas.

I’m in America until term starts in September.  After a short holiday with my family, I’m finally back in Kansas.  *Cue Wizard of Oz joke.* I have bit to myself to relax and write before Tuva, Erling, and Gregor show up to stay with me.  I’m really looking forward to showing my flatmates my hometown.  Lawrence isn’t as big as Oslo or as old as Crieff but I hope they will enjoy their time here.

For those unaware, Lawrence was founded by an abolitionist group from Massachusetts in 1854.  It sits on the border between Kansas and Missouri.  Prior to the official beginning of the American Civil War, Lawrence was a central part to the period known as “Bleeding Kansas.” “Bleeding Kansas” was the struggle between pro-slavery factions who wished the see the Kansas Territory enter the Union as a slave state and abolitionists who fought to see Kansas enter as a Free State.  The Kansas Territory was the hot ticket at the time as it would tip the scales (Free States to Slave States) either way it went – so there was plenty of fighting within the territory as well as external groups such as the one from Massachusetts establishing cities to gather support and abolitionist votes.

In 1855, John Brown visited the territory in support of the abolitionists and aided Lawrenicans known as ‘Jayhawkers’ to help free slaves across the Missouri border and take them to Underground Railroad stations.  The Underground Railroad was a system of safe-houses leading from the American South to the North and finally to Canada to help African-Americans escape slavery.  Because of Lawrence’s involvement in both of freeing of slaves and the setting up of a provisional abolitionist government headquarters it was attacked by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones in 1856.  Jones and his men burned many of the buildings on Massachusetts Street (the central street in Lawrence), including the Free State Hotel which had served as the abolitionist headquarters.  Lawrence rebuilt and continued to resist the pro-slavery factions based in both Missouri and nearby then official capital of Kansas, Lecompton.  Between the period of 1858 to 1861, Lawrence became the ‘people’s capital of Kansas’ and the rival to Lecompton.  Finally, in 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a Free State.

However, in the early morning of August 21, 1863, Lawrence was attacked again by pro-slavery forces in the form of William Quantrill and his band of about 450 Missouri Bushwhackers.  Quantrill and his men burned Lawrence, including the rebuilt Free State Hotel now called the Eldridge Hotel on Massachusetts Street, and murdered 200 men and boys.  The attack had been systematically planned over months and orchestrated with Quantrill compiling a list of known abolitionists to kill and buildings to burn.  It wasn’t just a spur of the moment decision.  However despite it all… Lawrence rebuilt and aided the Union throughout the American Civil War.  I’ve included engraving from Harper’s Weekly below to show the destruction from the raid.  Harper’s Weekly was a national newspaper at the time and Quantrill’s Raid for sure made national news.

Lawrence_massacre_ruins

Battle_of_Lawrence

Images from ‘Harper’s Weekly’ 1863.

After the American Civil War, Lawrence continued to be a liberal hotspot in Kansas.  Our city seal is even of a phoenix rising from the ruins of a burning building, a remembrance of the two raids that tried to destroy Lawrence.  Into the twentieth century, Lawrence acted as a halfway point between New York and San Francisco.  As such, it was a hotbed for the Civil Rights Movement and protestors of the Vietnam War.  There were sit-ins and protests such as the one held by 50 black students at the very high school I would later attend.  In April of 1970, the Student Union at the University of Kansas (the university in the center of Lawrence) was set on fire in protest.

In today’s world, Douglas County is one of the few consistently Democratic counties in the state.  The one time there was an Alt-Right rally in Lawrence a few weeks ago, 750 counter-protestors showed up against the Alt-Rights’ 8.  The most recent city wide protest is the protection of art as the voice of the people.  So, if you’re wondering where I get my politics from, it has a lot to do from where I grew up.

Coming back to America is draining for me both physically from the flight and mentally with all the batshit politics.  But, at least being back in Lawrence, I see people who continue to speak out and stand up for what’s right.  And, maybe Kansas isn’t the top of the list for visits to America but I’m pretty proud to call Lawrence my hometown.  Especially now because, admit all the current bullshit, we still remember our history and try each day to do the right thing.

And, I hope when the rest of Roseneath visits they’ll be able to see that too.

 

 

 

 

 

Poulton Research Project 2018

I arrived back in Edinburgh on Saturday after spending the last two weeks in Chester working on site with the Poulton Research Project.  This is my second season back at at the site, which if you’re a keen reader of this blog you’ll know to be a 13-15c Medieval Chapel with surrounding graveyard (read about my first season here).  The excavations focus on the medieval burials – but there is plenty else around the site from Prehistoric, ‘Celtic’ Iron Age, and Roman.

I’ve scanned in my excavation log for your reading pleasure and for an extra challenge of reading my smudgy handwriting. Enjoy.

Poulton1Poulton2Poulton3Poulton4Poulton5Poulton6Poulton7Poulton8Poulton9Poulton10Poulton11Poulton12Poulton13Poulton14Poulton15Poulton16Poulton17Poulton18

Bamburgh Castle Excavations 2018

I just arrived back to Edinburgh last night from working excavations at Bamburgh Castle.  The castle is located south of Edinburgh, across the English border into Northumberland.  While it was largely rebuilt in the 1890s, the foundations are those of a large Anglo-Saxon coastal stronghold with close connections to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (the site of Viking raids in 793 CE).  The excavations are focused in the outer-ward of the castle (roughly the 6/7c CE) in an area of metal working and industrial activity. If you want to read more about the site check out this article from Archaeology Magazine.

View this post on Instagram

⚔️⚔️⚔️

A post shared by 🌻kenndol (@baeowulf_) on

I was on site working as an Assistant Environmental Supervisor, in the role I oversaw and taught students the process of floating samples taken during excavation, drying, sieving, and sorting.  I also completed my own admin tasks helping out Alice (Environmental Supervisor) and Tom (Post-ex Supervisor) to make sure all the paperwork was complete for Graeme (Site Director).

An aside: flotation is a process by which soil samples from the trench are put into a tank of water and broken up by hands and jets.  This allows for the organic material like charcoal and seeds to float to the top and be collected in a flot bag and the heavier, inorganic material to sink to the bottom to dry and be weighed and sorted.  It’s really great for recovering information about what people were eating and growing as well as what sort of wild plants grew in an area.

If you remember, I attended Bamburgh last summer as a student.  They must have found my jokes funny, as this year I was invited back as staff.  While it was the same site, it was totally different experience and gave me valuable time in a supervisor/management role.  I am so grateful for the team at the Bamburgh Research Project for the opportunity!

Just having turned 21 and still in my undergraduate studies, I was the youngest member on staff.  Truthfully, at first, I was worried I wouldn’t be up to par for the job or that trying to teach students who were often older than me would be a little difficult.  It reminded me a lot of my time practicing tae-kwon-do.  Since I earned my black belt at 8, I was simultaneously the youngest but also one of the senior students.  This meant that despite my age, I had a leadership role.  I learned how to teach a variety of ages and experience levels.  And honestly, as I’ve learned, if you can teach a class of 10-year-olds how to spar correctly and safely you can pretty much do anything.

But anyway, back to the archaeology.

Keeping those lessons in mind, I moved quickly into my supervising role.  In a passing comment from other staff members, I ‘turned flotation into a well oiled machine.’ We quickly moved through the sample backlog from years’ past and put the Enviro team in a really good starting place for next season.  And while I wasn’t the one actually doing most of the work this year, I learned just as much about archaeology as I had the year before.  Teaching a skill really does imprint it further.  Likewise, taking part in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspects of the excavation connects all the separate pieces together.

And while it made me realize how much I actually did know about my chosen field of study, it revealed what I also didn’t know.  And that was okay.  One of my biggest pet peeves of any leadership is when a leader refuses to admit they don’t know something.  As I experienced, it’s okay to admit you don’t know something.  A good leader learns just as much from their students as a student learns from a good leader.

I also learned how to quickly adapt to challenges.  We had a large sample which was taken from a shell midden last season (oddly enough, it was a sample that I had taken myself so I only had myself to blame for the mess it created).  It was 2 15L buckets of heavy organic material that when floated broken down into fibers and blocked the mesh, causing the flot bag to silt up.  The team and I had to divide the samples into smaller buckets and mix in hot water and sodium bi-carb to break down the organics.  Then we left the buckets to sit for a few days.  After the weekend, the buckets were finely ready to float.

Besides working on the environmental side of the excavation, I also taught pottery and finds illustration.  It was really fun to teach and again really helped to further ground the skills I had learned this year in my Archaeological Illustration course.  I also got hoisted 90 feet in the air to take site photos so that was pretty neat.

I’m sad to see the season over so quickly as I truly enjoyed my time on site.  Seeing both sides of an excavation was a really unique opportunity and I glad that I was able to do my part to make this season successful.  As worried as I was at the beginning, my fears quickly went away as I got into the flow of the excavation and grew more confident in my understanding of the processes and my abilities to teach.  The rest of the staff was so supportive and because they believed in me – I believed in myself.  And as my first experience in a management role on a prominent excavation – I’m pretty proud of the work we accomplished.

Today, I’m back in Edinburgh to run errands and wash my clothes, but then it’s back down south for another excavation.  More on that to come.

call your mom.

Happy International Women’s Day/Month/Everyday.  If you haven’t already call your mom, aunt, sister, grandmother, cousin, girlfriend, or friend and tell her how great she is. 

I’ll wait.  Okay done?  Cool!

I waited to write this post until after my lecture this morning on ‘Feminist and Gender Theory in Archaeology.’

It should come as no shock that I am a woman who vehemently supports other women.  I love seeing women meet success.  I love reading the news and seeing the advancements women are making in STEM in the arts and in politics.  I love celebrating what makes women awesome.  This is why if you’ve been keeping up to date with things on ‘the Facebook’ I’ve brought back my ‘Inspirational Lady of the Day.’  I do this because I love drawing attention to things.

This not just because I love to meddle but because it needs to be done.  For a really long time if I wanted to learn about women’s history I had to find the information myself.  There were very few women featured in my textbooks.  The answer the textbooks gave in the small paragraph (at the very end of the twenty pages comparing dick sizes of the Bourbon kings of France) was that women typically didn’t do anything.  They didn’t write anything down.  They stayed home.

Sorry, my dudes, but that’s lazy history.

If I can, as young meddling child, use Google to find a list of important women in history, you, as a middle-aged academic with multiple phDs, can too.

And if it’s really that hard, I’ve made you a easy to click link!

A question was asked this morning in my lecture whether or not the study of ‘Women’s History and Archaeology’ should be political.  It most certainly should.  Everything in our world is political.  This doesn’t mean that you have to take a stance on everything, I love oranges just as much as I love strawberries… but it means that you can’t ignore the inherent politics of recognizing women.  And in a way, by staying out of politics you’re admitting that some things just aren’t that important to note.

History and Archaeology will never be objective.  We can’t go back in time and interview people.  What we can do is take what we learn from the excavations and create our next best educated guess.  But, as I’ve read, these guesses are often sugarcoated in modern stereotypes and bias.  You see this in museum displays with the men in the forefront and the women sitting in the back.  You see this in how just because a burial is found with a sword it’s deemed to be male… jokes on you, it’s a woman. Or how ‘Feminist Theory’ is treated as an offshoot of the Historical Discipline.  Treating ‘Women’s History’ as some kind of secondary history tells students is that if they want to learn about women they should take extra classes.  It send the message that women’s history isn’t going to be discussed in the mainstream history classes because it’s ancillary to an ‘academic understanding of the past.’

Some wild arguments I’ve heard against women’s history as part of the core curriculum as followed:

  1. ‘It keeps history ungendered.’ Sorry, my dudes, that’s even lazier.

The reason history is studied is because people find the actions of other humans insightful.  They love to connect to the past and see were we as humans have come from.  And I mean all humans.  You cannot call it a ‘History of Humanity’ if you only count certain humans.  Also, history has never ‘been ungendered.’  Take a gander around any bookshop and count how many history books you find written on women or by women.

2. ‘Women’s history is not interesting.’ Someone give me a spoon so I can gauge out my eyes.

Not every person is interesting.  I will agree that some people are fucking boring.  But discrediting an entire historical corpus on the basis that it’s not going to be interesting is pretty short sighted.  This is like if I said the History of the American Civil War wasn’t interesting or for you Brits reading this, Henry VIII breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church (even though it was Elizabeth I who finalized the deal and actually set up the Anglican Church).

3. By extension, ‘women’s history doesn’t sell.’ pls, chad. s t o p. 

The three highest grossing films of 2017 were about women: Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast, and Wonder Woman.  The last was the first big-budget superhero film to be directed by a women as well, Patty Jenkins.  She even went to my high school!  Stories about women do sell.  People want to see them.  They want to read about them.

When shows on Women’s History are made they are watched and they are supported… but I guess History Channel hasn’t gotten the memo yet if this screenshot of their show lineup says anything…

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 12.36.21 PM

I don’t hate men.  Really.  I’m not out here to fight people.  Pinky promise.

But, I am pretty fed up with history as it’s been taught and the public perception of women’s history.  There is no excuse not to recognize our stories and lives as valid.

To leave you with some final thoughts.  I do mean all women.

‘Third Wave Feminism’ if you want to stick labels on things has really made massive leaps and bounds toward more intersectional feminism but there is a lot more to be done.  By ‘intersectional feminism’ I mean that we need to identify that all women experience life differently and our history should not be treated as a single lump group.  Aspects of ethnicity, sexuality, age, class, etc affect how women experience things.  This affects their lives and our study of history.

To put this in context, I’ll use an example from the American Pay Gap (which does actually exist just in case you were wondering!).  Over the years, we have recognized that yes, white women still only make 79 cents to a white man’s dollar for the exact same job.  However, did you know that black woman are only make 60 cents and Hispanic women only 55 cents to the white man’s dollar for the exact same job.  We know women make less than men, but sometimes we don’t look at the differences within working women themselves.

So yeah, in summary.  The first step is recognizing that women exist in history.  That women’s history is an integral piece of the historical discipline.  Don’t be lazy.  The second step, once you agree that women have actually done things, we need to realize that all women are different and experience life differently.  We are all important but we are not the same.  It is the differences that gives our history strength.  Our differences are what make us so interesting and inspiring.

But, it takes all women (and men too) supporting and celebrating each other to make things happen.

So if haven’t already fucking call your mom.

 

screaming into the void

It’s been about a week since my last post and while, I’d admit nothing of spectacular note has happened, I’d figure I’d update you about my meager life existence.

Things have been busy here (duh).  I’m hurtling quickly down the path to Essay City.  Deadlines are coming up fast on the 1, 6, and 7.  After that it’s pretty consistent until I finish in early December.  No exams, just a dense compaction of shit.

Last week was the EUMC ceilidh (for my lovely American readers, a traditional Scottish event that is part line dancing, square dancing, and cage fight) and I somehow managed to come out of the ceilidh relatively unscathed.  Minor bruising and a few scraps but everyone made it back safe and sound with 40 chicken McNuggets in tow.

On Tuesday, my conflict archaeology course took a trip to Edinburgh Castle to look the military history of the castle.  I’m really enjoying the class and getting some ideas for my dissertation.  I hadn’t been to the castle since visiting it with my family back in 2015, so it was pretty cool to go back and see new things… obviously not new because the castle is hecka old but new to me because I’VE LEARNED THINGS!  A fantastinating concept that is… when you read and learn new things about history (or the world) your views, opinions, and knowledge become more refined.  Truly fascinating.

I’ve been working on an assignment for my Archaeology course as well as a short response to a piece about intersectional feminism for my History in Theory course.  I’ve got to get started on my field trip report about Edinburgh Castle as well as another short response for History in Theory.

There’s been strange but actually pretty interesting lectures this week.  I just came from one about ‘Animals in History’ and how/can we actually write histories of animals?  The lecturer was a medievalist and kept talking about medieval heraldry and bestiaries so that was a worth getting up at 7.45 on a Thursday for.  He also showed up photos of his dog.  Another lecture, had back on Tuesday went from Poststructuralism to 16c demonic possession real fast so that was funky fresh.  I’m just along for the ride tbh.

Um… what else?  I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim in the evenings to disassociate myself from the impending stress that I know November will bring.  You’re reading the work of the new Arch Mage of the College of Winterhold.

I’m just trying to life my best life, pls.

summer with the anglo-saxons

Hi all! It’s me.  Still alive and probably still a nuisance.  I just got back from my five week excavation at Bamburgh Castle along the Northumbrian coast.  I’m still super tired but the last five weeks have been amazing.  Here’s a quick run-down of the excavation from my excavation journal for the viewers at home.

12 June, 17.45 

First day at Bamburgh Castle excavation!  Arrived yesterday via train from Edinburgh.

Today we had a site tour, health and safety, and general info.  We are working in the outer ward of the castle with two trenches.  Trench 1 is located near St. Oswald’s Gate, the original 7c entrance to the castle.  Trench 3 is located closer to the inner ward of the castle in an area that has been identified as a manufacturing center with evidence of metalworking and animal processing.

We then took a tour of the Excavation offices located in the 19c windmill.  This is where most of the post excavation work is carried out.  We got a chance to see a multitude of finds from the project including bone artifacts and metals like iron, lead, and even gold.

We began to clean Trench 3 after removing the tarps and sandbags.  Cleaning a Trench means that you remove the top few millimeters of wash-in soils to reveals the colour changes of the archaeology below.

Trench 3 showed evidence of a structure with two cobbled paths.  The current level of excavation is around the 7/8c.  There is a large amount of animal bone as well as evidence of metalworking.  As stated, the current assumption about the site is that it was the manufacturing portion of the castle, near the entrance, with finished goods then taken into the inner ward.

13 June, 17.53

Day 2 complete.  Continued to clean back Trench to reveal colors of the features.  Nearly finished with cleaning and will start excavation in few days.

During cleaning, I uncovered an iron nail!  It was catalogued as a small find and given a number for the records.

A lot of animal bone has continued to come up so the site continues to support the ideas of a production center.

Excited to begin trench excavation.

14 June, 19.55

Finished cleaning trench today.  Took photographs of pre-excavation levels.  Will begin proper excavation tomorrow.

I was cleaning the ‘Roman’ area of the trench.  So-called because of the samian ware found in a hole in 2011.  This bedrock on this side of the trench is located higher up but is equal stratigraphically with the other side of the trench.  However, because Roman finds have been coming up on this portion of the trench, work in this area will stop until the Roman level is reached on the other side of the trench as well.

We have the castle tour tomorrow, which should be good to see with our supervisors leading the way.

Overall, I am really enjoying the site and learning a lot.

June 15, 18.54

Worked on Trench 1 today!  The Trench is nearly complete with aims to close at the end of the season.  I finished cleaning a feature, planned, and took a photo.

Today we also had a tour of the castle.  We learned more about the site and the history of the castle.

June 17, 19.21

Yesterday I worked Finds.  I floated samples, sieved, and worked in the windmill for a bit.  The Windmill is where all the records are kept and finds are managed.

As for floatation, I am always so surprised at the material recovered.  Basically, floatation consisted of taking soil samples from the trench and stimulating them in a large tank with running water.  This causes lighter organic material like charcoal and even burnt seeds to float to the top and into a collection bag.  The skill is really useful for collecting data about past environments like what I was doing in Romania last summer.  It’s a really useful way of analysing the site… I just really hate having to go through the process.

Excavation on site will continue tomorrow as I help to plan more of Trench 1 before it closes.

As for today, I had the day off and went to Alnwick (pronounced An-Ick).  I went to Barter Books as the recommendation of my friend Sophie.  The bookshop is HUGE! and is located in the old Alnwick Railway Station.  They basically just covered over the Platforms with boards and put in tons and tons of bookshelves and filled then with thousands of used books.  *heavy breathing*   After going to the bookshop, I went to the castle.  The castle was incredibly opulent and the library inside was ridiculous, I could not believe some of the title they had! Leather bound copies of both the Chronicles of Froissart and Monstrelet aka the closest we have to eyewitness accounts of the Hundred Years War including the best account for the Battle of Agincourt!  Alnwick castle was also the filming location for the first Harry Potter movie and was used for exterior scenes of Hogwarts!  And it was the birthplace of Henry Percy aka Harry Hotspur who helped to put Henry IV on the throne and then later became rivals to the family and according the Shakespeare a direct rival to Henry V.

View this post on Instagram

Causal castle crying.

A post shared by 🌻kenndol (@baeowulf_) on

I work again tomorrow and Monday starts Week 2.

June 18, 18.04

Worked at the castle today putting a stair access into the trench by cutting back the turf and shoveling dirt.  This is because the ramp used as a second access point will soon be re-sucked back into the trench as Trench 8 (an old trench dug by Brian Hope-Taylor in the 1960s) will be reopened for re-evaluation.  The stairs will serve to allow access in. This a very important part in site planning and health and safety.

Additionally, after a long day of hard work in a surprisingly hot Northumbrian sun we ate ice cream and went for a swim on the beach.

19 June, 18.30

First day of Week 2!

Excavated a shell midden to start which proved to be a very complex feature with evidence of multiple dumping acts over a period of some time.  There were layers of shell beneath layers of sediments.

Next, I cleaned the feature in the corner and planned it.  Unsure as to just what the feature is as there are many different context boundaries and colour shifts.  It is intriguing that there is a near perfect darkened rectangle in the middle of the orange clay feature.  Possible burnt area?  Possible post hole?

June 20, 17.24

Worked a long day today.  Excavated the feature I planned yesterday.  Revealed to be a burning site, potentially in situ!!  As I found evidence of fire cracked stones.  Large stones were used as a means of boiling large vats of water quickly or could have been used to line a hearth.  However, the bone found in the area did not show evidence of burning. It was a more redish hue which could mean that it was boiled, connecting it to the fire cracked stones.

I collected two sample buckets of the burnt context for further analysis and then filled in context sheets, plan forms, and photos.

June 21, 18.24

Today I began a cross section of a possible feature.  I planned, leveled, and began to find the edges of the context.  This was in the afternoon.  In the morning, it finally rained and we went inside the Windmill and washed finds.

I am getting along great with everyone on site and am really enjoying the excavation.  I am a little tired though and probably a little bit more grumpy than usual.  But, it’s been 3.5 weeks camping for me now.  (1.5 on excavation and the two weeks before that going up to the Bothy and then the Road Trip).  My grumpiness could be linked to that or the kinks in my back.  I plan to take evening to read a little and go to sleep early.

Tonight we have a lecture about the Bowl Hole, the cemetery found outside the castle a few years back.  I am very excited for this lecture.

June 22, 17.39

Today I helped with the ramp building along Trench 8.

Trench 8 is to be re-evaluated once a safety ramp is constructed.  I shoveled dirt, belayed buckets out of the trench, etc.  No actual excavation today but setting up a proper area to work in is just as important as the actual work itself!  No one wants to become part of the archaeology!

And it was pretty fun to get some rope work in.  I used a hip belay to bring up buckets from the Trench.  Archaeology and mountaineering knowledge… am I Lara Croft yet?

24 June, 21.38

Yesterday I continued to clear out the backfill of Tench 8.  Again, T8 is the location where Hope-Taylor found the two swords and the axes in the 1960s.  We are reopening it to 1) Check the records are correct for publication and 2) Connect T8 to the cobbled path in T3 were last year a copper Anglo-Saxon bird plate was found.

We shoveled more buckets of backfill and will continue on Sunday when I work again.

Today I am off to Edinburgh to do my laundry and water my plants.

25 June, 19.46

Today we worked to plan a cross section of a pit by measuring out the grid, measuring rocks in the cross slab.  We did this by taking grid points aka eastings and northings.

Good day today with good work.  Easy Sunday.  I am excited to get back to work tomorrow.

26 June, 18.25

Today I filled in context sheets for the tri-pit.  So called because this feature is a pain in the ass.  It was thought to be a single pit.  Until two more pits were found cut into an older pit in the center.  However the southern pit has been truncated by an early section excavated in the 1960s.

The feature was half-sectioned and I filled in sheets for the section completed.  It was very confusing attempting to establish a chronology for the feature because you first need to locate the cut lines in the half section of the wall.

After completing the paperwork, for the half section the other side of the pit was excavated.  Samples were taken of the first two pits.  Each pit had to be excavated separately as to keep the samples with the least amount of contamination.

Tomorrow it is due to rain and I will be working Finds.

View this post on Instagram

living the tent life day 32. #archaeology

A post shared by 🌻kenndol (@baeowulf_) on

28 June, 17.15

Yesterday it rained.

Today I finished excavation of the pit feature, previously called the tri-pit… now is the quad-pit. Today there was even evidence of a possible post hole burning with a perfect circle of charcoal appearing the new pit cut into the pit.

We realised that the multitudes of pits inter-cutting each other had made the feature look bigger than it actually was.  But, there was no way of telling the boundaries of the feature without excavation.

Lastly, the pit shows (maybe?) a relation to a know floor surface.  Was the floor surface cut into?

1 July, 11.59

Sorry haven’t recorded.  Thursday it rained.  So we worked finds in the morning and in the afternoon we took a trip to Lindisfarne.  We got to see the island, the priory, and walked along the beach.  It was a beautiful island and amazing to see the connections between Lindisfarne and Bamburgh.

Friday was another rainy day spent working on finds.  I sorted the environmental finds in the morning and finds washed in the afternoon.  All in all two good rainy days.

It’s been a little hectic lately with the living situation.  A group of us got majorly flooded out of our tents on Friday.  With our tents flooded all our kit got pretty soaked and the staff who had stayed at the campsite spent the day drying kit and making sure nothing was super wrecked.  It was awfully nice of them.  But, you can’t really return to a tent once it’s had nearly 2L of water poured out of it.  So I now find myself with the other students in an AirBNB here in Belford.

3 July

Yesterday I worked back in T8.  Continued to shovel backfill until the section edge reached 1.20m.  The legal working height for an open trench with small sides is 1.20m again health and safety.

Today I planned the stupid quad-pit and it still proved to a pain in the ass.  But the context is now closed.  Afterward I helped one of the staff members to locate a missing trench edge from an old plan that had unfortunately not been finished or included grid points.  By using the context register and old photos from 2002 we were able to locate the plan and then I started to remove the turf to uncover the edge.

6 July

Tuesday was the fourth of July spent in rainy Northumbria.  We worked in Trench 8 on the section plan until the rain puddled too much and we had to move to Finds.  I spend the afternoon working to track down missing samples from the Kaims which had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle a few years back.

Wednesday was sunny so we did a full clean of Trench 1.  So that it could be photographed.  T1 is again the trench by St. Oswald’s gate was thought to be complete until about 18 new features surfaced after the amount of rain we got last week. Wednesday afternoon I worked on Finds.

Today was the day!  We started the morning by going back to Lindisfarne to see the excavation being carried out there.  Looks like they found a new church!

That afternoon, I started to remove and sample the 9c pebbled surface.  The pebbled surface ran adjacent to the 9c metal working building in the SE corner of the trench.  I’m working on the area and today was excavation was recorded to later be used in some media uploads for the excavation.   The surface is between two rows of curb stones and consisted of many layers of stone deposit.  I have already found animal bone, teeth, and charcoal.  Basically, things people would have dropped or lost.  With it’s proximity to the metal workshop I am hoping to maybe find metal objects or coins.  The last part of the day I id’d a cut feature in the path which had been called a post hole.

I’m really proud to be able to work this pebbled path because it’s a really important part of the trench.

9 July

Friday I continued to clean away the surface.  We planned and photographed the area.  This included having to off sight plan by using a temporary bench mark.  We then used the tape measures to off sight the eastings and northings.

We did id a definite post hole on Friday and today I half-sectioned the post hole for sampling.  The post hole rests against one of the large curb stones and so the curb stone was probably used as a packing stone for the post.

While I was excavating the post hole my working partner half sectioned the path so that we could see the layers of stratigraphy.

After a bit time it became apparent we had entered a new layer as small pebble stones stopped and a layer of shell emerged followed back a layer of cobbles.  Next to the new layer of cobbles is what appears to be a sandstone area.

The curb stones on either side of the part are very deeply imbedded and will an absolute bitch to excavate out.

13 July

Monday, continued to work on pavement for half day and then moved to work on cleaning back trench edge on east side to reveal matching statifigaphy to missing plan.

Tuesday, worked finds.  I sorted between animal bone and human bone from old bone bags from the Bowl Hole.  Actually found a human finger mixed into the older bags.

Wednesday, worked on the cobbled path.  Removed layer of cobbles and sandstone to find that the cobbled path discovered last season underlays our area!  How big is this path?!  Also found another medieval hobnail!

Thursday, continued with cobbled path with planning and photography.

Today, last friday at the castle.  Very good season.  Today I was on Finds.  Worked through five bags of samples. I really enjoyed this season and as I weigh my options for next summer, I am really considering returning.

View this post on Instagram

Last week of excavation here and I'm sad.

A post shared by 🌻kenndol (@baeowulf_) on

The excavation was really incredible and the site was in a beautiful location with the sea crashing up onto the nearby beach.  I am so glad that I was able to excavate here and again, I am so glad that I chose to study archaeology.  It gives me a chance to get out into the field but also stay in and work with records and books.  It’s an incredible feeling waking up each morning and entering a castle to work.  There were times when I was excavating the pebble path that I thought just how many feet had trodden over the surface and that I was now amongst them.  I guess it’s just like the pull of mountaineering.  To be able to go places and see things that few people will ever get to see.

On Saturday, a group of reenactors came to the castle to stage mock fights.  They pitched tents in the outerward by our excavation.  I shut my eyes and listened to the clanging of metal swords and spears as I worked.  For a brief minute, as I uncover the Anglo-Saxon world I got to be a small part of it and was re-learning what we once knew.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 1.45.21 PM

 

whoa-o we’re halfway there

Hello friends!  It’s me.  Back in civilisation after a month of traveling around and living in the ~great outdoors~.  But just for a bit.

I’ve just finished week two (of five) of the Bamburgh Research Project.  I’m excavating at Bamburgh Castle aka the Anglo-Saxon capital of Northumbria.  There are three weeks left of the excavation but I caught a ride back up to Edinburgh to water my plants, do my laundry, and check up on things around here.

Just quickly because I’ll write a longer post at the end of the excavation, I’ve been working in the outer ward of the castle which was used as a manufacturing centre for the castle.  Think metal working, smithing, and animal production.  Past excavations have uncovered everything from patent welded swords to a metric fuckton of animal bone.  I’m staying in Belford with the rest of the excavation crew, in you guessed it, another tent!  And you guessed it, my back hates me.

We spend the first week cleaning out the trench and setting up for the season.  The second week, I excavated a corner of the trench which had evidence of burning aka fire cracked stones, charcoal, different colours of soils.  The rest of the week I helped to literally move a metric fuckton of soil to reopen another trench for re-evaluation.  I used some rope knowledge to hip belay buckets on buckets on buckets of backfill.

[Dad, I know you’re going to make some joke about me ‘actually doing manual labor’ in the comments.]

But it’s been fun.

I got all my marks back for the year and ended second year with a solid 2:1.  I’m now a Third Year!  Cries.  I’ve chosen my classes for next year.  It look like I’ll either have a course on the Crusades and Medieval Society or a course on Conflict Archaeology for first semester plus two required courses.  For second semester I have one required Archaeology course and then hopefully a course on the History of Tea (it sounded fun, okay?) or the Crusade class if I didn’t get it first semester and then another class in Forensics.

But anyway, that’s what’s up and why I’ve been more AWOL than usual.