amigas, cheetahs, friends for lyfe.

It’s always nice to see your friends – especially ones you haven’t seen in over a year.

This week, the down week between me getting back from Bamburgh and then jet setting it off to Italy to hang out with dead people (re: I’m taking an Osteology Course near Pompeii), I had one my best friends from American come and visit.

Mallory and I had suffered through *American High School* together so we’ve been through a lot.  She had been in Ireland this summer working at the Trinity College Library in Dublin.  She’s a pretty cool person doing European Studies with a focus on Museums at University right now.

She arrived late on the 22nd and I walked down to meet her at Waverly Station.  After that I spend the next week showing her around the lovely city of Edinburgh.  We went to lots of museums: The National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum.  And drank a metric shit ton of coffee.  One of our favourite activities is to sit at a coffee shop for prolonged periods of time and drink enough coffee to feel our hearts palpitating.  Great fun.

We also explored plenty of *creepy* graveyards and went to the cat cafe where Mallory harassed a hairless cat wearing a hoodie.

View this post on Instagram

spooky haunts with the bestie from the westie.

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold (@baeowulf_) on

And brunch! We went for brunch on multiple days.  Brunch is one of our favourite activities.

Basically we’re already old ladies.  We actually discussed the ‘Are you a Twenty Something Grandmother’ Buzzfeed quiz where we had both scored over 80%.

We also went to the Royal Botanical Garden on a particular sunny day.  I’d never been before, having attempted multiple times but always getting lost and then somehow ending up in Leith with blistered feet… long story.  The garden stretches over 72 acres and features a variety of plants.  Some are very big.

View this post on Instagram

I'm standing on my toes.

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold (@baeowulf_) on

On one of the rainy days we went to go see the new film Dunkirk.  Mal and I sat in the corner and cried for the entire duration of the film.  We are also both very frequent criers, especially if the topic includes anything historical.

But anyway, we had a great time.  Not to be sentimental, but living abroad has really made me understand that I make friendships with people in different ways now.  Since I don’t get to see many of my friends on a daily basis, I mostly communicate with them via social media or sometimes when I’m feeling really elderly I’ll send letters.

But, just because I don’t see a person as frequently as others doesn’t make that friendship any less important to me.  It’s actually really incredible when I do go online and get to see what cool things my amazing friends are up to all over the world.  It makes the world a much smaller and connected place and it just means that when I do get to finally see a friend it’s all the better. ❤

 

this is early bc im skipping town

This post is *technically* about a day early but since I’m getting the heck outta Dodge right after my exam, I decided to write it tonight.

And that’s second year.  Tomorrow, I have my last exam, Roman World, at 2.30 pm (to 4.30pm).  I’m a little nervous for it as always, but I am currently channeling the planet Saturn which astronomically exudes confidence.  I’ve read through my notes and my textbook, so I’m feeling pretty good.  I also figure after four+ years of Latin, a trip to Italy, and having a published novel which draws on aspects of Roman/Greek society if I don’t know Claudius from Caligula by now…    

Right after my exam, I won’t have much time to celebrate.  I’m running right back to my flat to grab my bags.  I’m leaving for one of my favourite places in all of Scotland – the Bothy.  I’m officially become the Bothy Secretary for the EUMC and I cannot be more excited.  This trip is going up to work on the kitchen and finish up the main refurbishment works so that the Bothy can be ‘officially reopened.’

Anyway, I am so glad that exam season is over.  It’s been more tiring than stressful and honestly, more annoying than anything else.  Classes finished back in the beginning of April, so it’s been about a month of waiting for my exam.  I’m the type of person would would rather write 2-3 long essays in a class over the semester than wait for an exam.  So, I’ve read a lot, walked around a lot, and drank a metric fuck ton of coffee.  Yay!

But, two down and one to go.  My archaeology exam was last Monday and it was pouring outside.  Medieval Europe was last Thursday and after I took the exam I went to the NMS for a book talk with Diana Gabaldon (the author of Outlander).  She talked about writing and then signed my copy of Outlander.  It was pretty cool.  Today, I went for the massage/facial my mom booked me for my birthday and I have emerged a new woman with fewer knots and much less dead skin.  Thanks mom!  I’ve also been trucking away on my *space archaeology* manuscript, it’s nearly at 30,000 words atm. WOWZAH!

But anyway… tomorrow I finish up with my second year of university.  This, September (assuming all goes well and I didn’t fuck everything up on my exams) I’ll be starting my third year!  GASP!  Time to start working on a dissertation and having my marks count toward my final degree.  Honours years is going to be a transition, but I’m really excited for it.  This year has honestly been amazing.  First semester I got to take an osteology class and this semester I got to use those skills on the excavation in Chester.  I can’t wait for this summer to use them again at Bamburgh and in Italy.  This semester I took a course in Medieval History which I enjoyed so much.  It really makes a difference when you finally get to take courses in things that you have a genuine interest in.

It’s been a crazy two years.  If you had told 2015 Kennedy that 2017 Kennedy would be having a kick-ass time in Scotland she would have probably been a bit skeptical.  Sometimes 2017 Kennedy still can’t believe that she made it here either.  Walking around Edinburgh still catches me off guard sometimes as I catch sight of new things.  You’d be surprised how many old things tend to blend into the city unnoticed.  Just the other week, I wandered into the Old Calton burial ground and ran into David Hume’s tomb – who knew.

But, enough with academics already.  I am so ready to finally relax this summer and turn my brain off, enjoy the weather, and drink some well earned alcohol.  Treat yo’self.

Well, that’s second year.  It’s been grand.  After my exam I’m headed to the Bothy for a few days and then back to Edinburgh and then out for the Road Trip for week and then back to Edinburgh and then out to Northumberland and then back to Edinburgh and out to Italy and then back to London and then to America… you get the idea.

xx.

I crack an egg into the pan and watch the clouds move over the castle.  It’s quiet here, just after 7 AM.  I had stayed with my mom last night after coming back late from dinner.  This morning, the cab dropped me off at my door and then took my mom to the airport.  I just got a text from her, she’s all checked in and ready for her flight back to America.

I had unlocked the door to my flat, took a shower, washed my greasy hair, and then set to make breakfast.  The pan sizzles as the egg scrambles.  I pick through the refrigerator and grab my sticky tub of butter, a clean packet of smoked salmon, and a nearly empty jar of blackberry jam.  The toaster pops up and I grab the two crispy pieces of bread.

I pause by the window.  The clouds move over the castle.  I spread jam on one of the pieces of toast and butter on the other.  I layer scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on the buttered toast.  Then I pour myself a cup of tea and sit by the window watching the clouds move over the castle.

I turned twenty this morning.  Similarly to last year and the year before and the year before that… I hope that I’ve grown as a person but not changed too much.

I’m not going to write a long post this morning because I generally don’t like being fussed over or creating a fuss but I will write about a few things as I sit here watching the clouds moving over the castle.

I will write about how lucky I am to be here.  I will write about how I am living in this lovely city working toward the goal I set in my mind when I first finished that museum with my grandmother ages ago.  Each day I walk to class I pass centuries of history and it still amazes me after nearly two years.  I will write about the amazing friends I have met here who have made me part of their own little new family.  I deeply adore each and every one of them and I still can’t believe they put up with my shit.

But, I guess most importantly I will write about how as I enter my twentieth year, I am happy.  Three years ago, I was a mess of anxiety and panic attacks.  Now, I’m still a mess… but at least I’m enjoying the mess.  I’ve traveled and seen so many beautiful things from around the world.  And, I have two more excavations this summer… I just have to get through exams first.

Happy Birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

Poulton Excavation

Hello all!  Today marked the end of the Poulton Research Project, the two week excavation of a medieval graveyard south of Chester.  The site is located five miles south of Chester in the middle of an agricultural field.  For your reading enjoyment (and because I’ve already written it) here’s my field journal.

April 9. 3.56 pm 

Took the train down from Edinburgh this morning.  Had a stop over in Crewe to change trains.  Read Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher while on the train.

Arrived in Chester.  Will be taking part on the Poulton Research Project for 2 weeks.  Staying at a lovely flat on the River Dee.  Just staying by myself, I really am going to enjoy the next two weeks.  And!  The place that the Parliamentary forces broke through the city walls during the English Civil War and a Roman Amphitheater are just around the corner from where I am staying!  I will pass them each morning as I walk to the bus stop!  I am going out now to sort lunch and buy groceries for the 2 weeks.  Very excited to be on this excavation – medieval skeletons! Need to be on site for 9 am tomorrow and then 9.40 form there.  On site until 4.30 pm each day.

April 10. 5.52 pm

First day of excavation complete.  Caught bus to the Straight Mile this morning.  Met at the milking parlour for debrief.  The site is on a very old landscape with finds from every period from Neolithic to Medieval.  A large Iron Age settlement is suspected in the region.  We saw the finished Iron Age trench (to be filled in next week).  It had 9 roundhouses.  Massive round-houses built over a period of 200 years.  They suspect it was some sort of tribal capitol.  The land during the Medieval period (12c-ish) was owned by a the Cistercian monks who build a large Abbey in the area.  The Abbey has still yet to be found.  The monks kept people off of the land, un-intentionally preserving the archaeology.  After 70 years, the Abbey was abandoned and the land laid bare due to increasing pressure from the Welsh border.  There was a series of Welsh/English conflicts in the 14c/15c.  In the early 15c, a Chapel (where I am excavating) was built by the Manley family.  The last time the Chapel appears in records was during the English Civil War of the 1640s where the Chapel was used as a look-out for invading Parliamentary forces as Chester had backed the Royalists.

The Chapel itself is built on the ground of a Roman building (possibly a shrine to a water-goddess).  After Roman occupation there are Saxon furrow marks in the soil.  A early medieval chapel was built on the site before the larger later one built by Lord Manley.  This is evidenced by the buttress on the inside of the Chapel tower.  A buttress was a feature used on the outside of a building to support the wall.

I am excavating in the southern graveyard.  There are six of us working in the graveyard.  We have been allocated into groups of two.  My partner and I excavated through the demolition layer which included charnel bone, teeth, slate roof tiles, sandstone, and building mortar from the Chapel.  We should expect to find an articulated skeleton by day three or four.  The side of the trench has the ball of a femur exposed so either this is a loose burial or a disarticulated bone.  Additionally, a geological anomaly created soil that was less acidic and in turn preserved bone much better than most sites around Britain.

The site is in a really amazing landscape with large potential as not many excavation have been undertaken in the area due to the boulder clay soil/idea that nothing was there.

April 11. 6.17 pm

Long day!  On site for 9.40 am.  Continued to take down demolition layer.  Still no sign of burial after a few false leads.  The femur head was just that.  I found a few other bits of bone but no stratified burial yet.  My partner discovered a bit of skull just before the end of the day.  Have been excavating quickly now to get down to lower levels but unsure.  We have however uncovered a piece of 10c Chester ware which backs up the Saxon connections to the site!

The site directors are very nice and I am learning a lot from them.  My knees are sore from today I stopped at Lush for some bath bombs and will take a nice soak after making dinner… I’m thinking salmon and veg.

April 12. 6.52 pm

We have a burial?  Or two?  Articulated vertebrae and ribs were found today!  The cranium found yesterday was actually a second cranium directly on top of our burial.  We have excavated down and are currently working to recover the rest of the burial by removing the deposition layer.

We have been assigned a context number for our burial now.  Context is an archaeology word for a ‘human action in time.’ A burial consists of 3 actions: grave digging, placement of the body, and backfill.  Our feature has three context numbers.

However, our feature has been a little strange.  It also has a spare C2 vertebrae and Maxilla (upper jaw).  Is there a second burial below?  Will be interesting to see if the burial is indeed a burial/double burial/ or a charnel pit.  Many questions.  The cranium is facing east, so that is a good sign pointing to an articulated Medieval Christian burial.

April 14. 7.34 am

Forgot to write yesterday.  Went out for drinks and a tour of Chester!  The city is super cool and was founded by the Romans as a fortress, you can still see the Roman grid system in the roads.  We met at a pub which was actually located in the old city crypts built in the 11c!

Anyway, excavation went well yesterday.  Our burial is very young, probably at least three but no more than four.  I exposed the vertebrae and we have recovered the right femur.  Still no sign of the right side which is a bit strange.  Haven’t been able to figure out how the second cranium fits in either because it is too close to the first and one would expect another stratified burial?

View this post on Instagram

©♓️📧⚡️🌱📧®

A post shared by 🌻kenn dold (@baeowulf_) on

April 15. 10.14 am

Just seated for breakfast on my day off.  Yesterday was a quick day on the site.  First, we gave short presentations about our burials and excavations thus far.  We have continued to clean down our burial.

Our skeleton is very young – probably three but no more than four years old.  There are two extra craniums alongside the burial.  I excavated the right side to reveal that the right arm (and so the left) have been crossed over the body.  However because the burial is so young, small, and fragile we have little hope of recovering finger and hand bones.  Likewise, while we have cleaned the ribs and second cranium (to be removed Monday as it shows no sign of stratification).  We have avoided cleaning the sacrum because a phD student from Durham is doing a study about parasites found in child burials.  Okay breakfast has arrived… will continue later.

Overall, the excavation is run very well and I believe I have truly learned much over the past week.

On Monday, we will be having an osteology course in the milking parlour at 10 am.  on Tuesday afternoon, we are getting to learn about medieval archery!  I have not expressed my massive interest in archery just yet – I fear it may make me look like a bigger geek that I already am!  Today I have the day off and will be exploring Chester for a good coffee house – somewhere to revise.

April 18. 8.24 am

Busy weekend off.  Glorious weather and exploring Chester.  On Saturday, I went to the the Grosvenor Museum and saw some of the material from Chester’s Roman fort.  Next to the Cathedral, the oldest part was built in the 11c!  On Sunday, I ate breakfast, went to the Jaunty Goat for revision and coffee and then took the bus out to see the Duke of Westminster’s Estate.  He had opened the gardens for the day to allow the plebeian riff-raff like myself a chance to see them.  The driveway was long (2 miles!) and no one stopped offer me a lift so I walked.

Monday was back on site but it was raining so we stayed inside to wash finds.  We had an osteology unit.  It was very cool and we got a chance to look at two different skeletons from the site.  I clearly had not gotten a first in osteology for no reason and I was able to successfully age and determine the sex of both skeletons!

It always amazes me what you can tell from a set of remains – nearly everything about a person… but really nothing about who they were…

10.18 pm

Cleaned up after muddy day on site and ready to sleep.  Today was a typical day will be photographing skeleton tomorrow morning.  Lifted 2nd cranium today but third (the one bisecting the right femur) is still a mystery.

Other groups: one intact standard burial near complete.  Another group started as a charnel pit(?) but turned into a child burial with potential of being a double inhumation!  However, while clearing, a cranium was found inside of a left pelvis!  Our supervisor was concerned that they had uncovered a baby in utero alongside the mother!  Thankfully, it turned out just to be two more charnel bones.  Whew.

Our skeleton is just as interesting however in its relation to cranium 3.  As it bisects the right femur, the only was it could have would be if it was placed in first there is a significant grave cut which truncates the child’s burial past mid-femur so there is a high probability that there is a second grave directly below ours. A mandible located close to the cranium 3 could belong to it… but no way to know.  Additionally massive amounts of post-mortem damage has affected our skeleton including bioturbation from the nearby hedge line and compression from years of walking over which has actually smashed the skull inward.

Additionally, an archery teacher came today to talk to us about the English longbowman because the site being on the Welsh border was an important one during the Border Wars of the late 13c!  The ones that Henry V was involved in during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV.   They have actually found a burial on site which had a large bodkin inside of the sternum!

We got a chance to shoot the bow and although I hadn’t shot a bow in nearly a year… I guess it’s like riding a bike.  The archery teacher even complimented my technique.  Side tangent: I taught myself how to accurately shoot a traditional longbow and crossbow while researching a paper on the English longbowman during school to gain a better understanding of the medieval sources.

April 20. 8.25 am

Good day yesterday.  Photographed and took levels and measurements for the burial.  Used the dumpy level and took eastings and northings using the grid system.  Filled out context sheets and skeleton forms.  Now lifting the burial and should be complete by tomorrow!

8.34 pm 

Today I lifted the cranium of a small child.  Who ever they were, I would like to hope to think they were buried with love and care as they were wrapped in a shroud and lowered into the earth over 600 years ago.

We finalised our burial today, filled out more forms, will plan the cut of the grave tomorrow. I have truly enjoyed this excavation and it has given me huge insights into medieval osteoarchaeology!  The teaching has been very professional and well explained.  And the constant supply of coffee and biscuits is always a plus.  I have learned a lot and have been very inspired to continue my study of osteology.

This excavation has really given me more reason to further my study.  Excavating a skeleton has given a sense of gravitas to what I study.  As I lifted the cranium from the ground, I thought of the people who placed the body of the child into the ground.  I know we will never know for sure, but I would like to think that this child’s parents loved them as much as my own parents love me.  I am thankful to have been able to excavate them a get a glimpse of who they were.  This adds in a better understanding of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going.

However, I know that we cannot lose sight of the humanity of the field.  We have been given a unique chance to know our ancestors on an intimate level and I feel I have a better understanding of what sort of relationship that needs to be.  The site was very clear about respect for remains on day one.  For instance we are not to name the skeletons or take photos to be posted online (which is why there are not many photos in this post).  We always have to remember that these were once people who already had a name and a life.  We will never know their true name and so will only assign a number.

It’s a funny thing really.  We know nearly everything about a person by studying their remains, their age, sex, height, pathology, healed injuries, even DNA can give us eye color, hair color, facial features… we can recreate their faces and see the past with our own eyes.  But, who were they?  What was their favourite color, food, animal?  Who was their best friend?  How did they spend their days?  That’s the rub. We know everything and nothing about them.  It’s exceedingly frustrating but rewarding all the same.

I shook when I raised the cranium, but I knew that I had to be steady.  This child deserves to have their life retold and studied, but also respected.  Science has a no many ways of helping us to know that past – without studying human remains our history will become lost to us for a brief moment the people of the past have a chance to be relevant again.  However, we must always remember with what and with whom we deal.

April 21. 5.53 pm

Today was the last day of excavation.  We planned the grave cut and took levels and then spent the rest of the afternoon finds washing.  We cleaned a lot of the extra human remains that came from the fill of our grave including the second cranium and multiple extra mandibles.  I had a strange experience when I realised that I was brushing a medieval person’s teeth with a modern toothbrush but other than that it was a solid day in the field.

I’m a little sad to be finishing as I really enjoyed going out each day and working.  Field archaeology is probably my favourite aspect of my degree.  Sure it’s fun to sit around and read articles and debate theory but I always love a chance to lay on the ground in some contortionist position with my head stuck in the trench, dentist pick in one hand, and brush in the other.  Someone has to do the dirty work to collect the data sets for the academics!

I feel like you also get a closer connection to understanding the past as you truly get to experience the environment from which the artifacts come.

Anyway, I’m back to Edinburgh on Sunday and then my mom is actually coming to visit for the week because my birthday is on Friday and she’s that sort of mom.

It’s been grand.  Props to you for reading all of this.

 

 

 

death monday is dead.

Today is the last Death Monday of second year.  Damn.

Hey, Uni?  Maybe slow down, please?

This morning I had an Archaeology lecture over Forensics and DNA which was really interesting.  It ran a little over and cut into my already limited lunch time… but eh, the lecture was cool so I didn’t mind.

For lunch, I grabbed a bowl of soup and went to eat in the Debating Hall in Teviot, it’s in the quieter part of the student union and I really like it because it looks like an old medieval Great Hall.  You know the type with the high wooden ceilings, mezzanine, and dark wood everything?  Yeah?  Yeah.

After lunch, I went to my last Medieval tutorial for the year.  It was over the Later Crusades after the fall of the Crusader states (circa 1291).  After, I had a Roman Empire lecture over the 3rd century AD and then I went to my last Archaeology lab for the semester.  The lab was over using data sets to create charts and stuff on the computer.

The weather has been stellar again and so yesterday I spent most of the day outside.  I went for a run in the meadows, meet up with some friends, and did some yoga.  My friends have commented that I have transcended my title of ‘Trash Child’ (I constantly trip over things, fall into bins or the gutter, and live in the Meadows in my hammock which one more than one occasion has been set up next to a bin.  I also lay on the floor for prolonged periods of time and whine.).  According to Ellie, I have become ‘Earth Child’ after my outdoor yoga sesh in the mud.  Truthfully, I still feel more like a ‘Trash Child’ but eh, I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

On wider notes, the Avengers have started filming again here in Edinburgh!  They’ve blocked off of much of the Royal Mile and yesterday night they blew up a truck in front of St. Giles!  I’ve walked by the set a few times and they have repainted a jewelry shop into a kebab shop and have massive rain buckets pouring water all over the street.  They only film late at night, so, no I haven’t seen any of the actors (and probably won’t). Although I could swear I saw one of the directors driving around Edinburgh last weekend!

This week is going to be spent finishing up my last two essays.  I’m nearly done with my Roman Empire essay and still have to write my archaeology report.  This weekend officially starts my Easter break and I will be heading south to excavate a Medieval graveyard and get a much needed two week break! More on that next week!!

My twentieth birthday is in 25 days so that’s terrifying.  I always thought that by the time I was twenty I would be a semi-functioning adult… but alas.

 

here comes the sun…

Welcome to Week 10.  One essay (over the Roman army) and write up report (over the domestication of the goat in the Near East circa 10,500 BP) left to go.

Last week was hellish.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  I was super busy and the weather was pretty shit.  I missed my cat terribly, realised I would only be happy again if I had a cat, and contemplated what it would take to let my landlord allow me to get a cat.  Then I had a massive introvert crash.  Fun!

The highlight of last week was meeting with the supervisor for the Osteology masters program on Thursday morning.  I had emailed her asking about the course and we arranged to meet early on Thursday to discuss what I would need to do over the next two years.  The program sounds really fun and definitely something I could see myself doing… especially if I want to continue with osteology as US regulations are pretty strict on what analysis you can do with human remains.  She said that I was on the right track and to continue to take as many osteology classes I can and continue to seek out volunteer spots like I am doing at the NMS.

This weekend, however set a nice tone for the last two weeks of term.  The sun was out and the temperatures were creeping up toward 20C!  On Saturday morning I joined in at the Anti-Fascist march here in Edinburgh.  Long story short, an alt-right party had planned an ‘unofficial’ White Pride day in Edinburgh on Saturday and so a counter protest had been formed to make a clear statement that this city is one of love and tolerance.  Get ta fuck Nazis.  I also got to walk by the Avengers set down on Cockburn Street so that was pretty cool as well.

Afterward, I left to go work on my essay and presentation because, as everyone knows, the best way to combat the alt-right is through education and acknowledgement of fact!  Later that afternoon, after slugging coffee after coffee, I met up Ellie, Sophie, and Urte and hung around outside all afternoon.  I really hope the weather stays as nice as it’s been for a while.  I’ve been wearing my Birkenstocks on a daily basis if that gives you any indication about how nice and sunny it’s been!

On Sunday, the weather was nice again. I had work to do, so I took the books I needed and set up my hammock along Middle Meadow Walk.  I read about Roman forts in Britain, gave a mock presentation, and drank a few G&Ts.  Sunday was also Mother’s Day here in the UK so I tagged my mom in a nice meme on Facebook.

Today, I had an archaeology lecture over animal domestication, a medieval history tutorial over Joan of Arc, no Roman lecture because of a scheduling error (I went and got coffee instead), and lastly my archaeology seminar where I presented my findings about goats!  I could finally use my farm child knowledge of growing up with goats for the power of good!  The presentation went really well, and I’m always keen to talk about osteology.  Since one of the osteology classes isn’t being offered next year (professor on research leave) I am really considering taking the course on the analysis of animal remains.

Just this week and next and then the semester is done! But, before I head to Chester next Sunday for a two week excavation, I need to finish my last essay and report.  It’s going to be hard to focus with the weather being this amazing…

Why I’m Still 110% With Her

 

I watched the election since 9 pm last night until I went to my 9 am tutorial this morning.  I slept less than five minutes.

This morning was one of those moments when the world just stopped and slowed.  It took me a few minutes to process what had happened. America you threw a nasty punch this morning, it knocked a lot of us down. I know it knocked me down.  I physically couldn’t breath.  I couldn’t comprehend what had happened.

I was confused and lost and scared.  I panicked.  I sobbed.  It was awful.  I felt like my country didn’t care about me at all.

But, I had class at 9 am. Drying my eyes, I grabbed my backpack and walked to class.  The election knocked me down, but I refused to prevent it from keeping me from getting back up.

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

We’ve got to get up and keep fighting for change. We might have been defeated here but we only fail if we give up. Failure is what happens when you stop trying.  Defeat is just a growing pain of progress.

We can’t stay down.  You can cry.  I cried.  But, complaining and blaming won’t do a thing now.  We’ve got to get back up and study harder and work harder.  We have to remember what Hillary stands for, what Bernie stands for, what Obama stands.  The only way things will ever change is if we keep talking, keep writing, keep loud.  We have to move on from this election with elegance and with poise.  Most of all, we have to move on from this election with hope.

I’m upset.  But, I’m not going to let those emotions turn into despair and sadness.  I’m going to turn it into motivation, because I know this isn’t over.  I’m going to get the best education I can.  I got my first essay back for the year and I got a 75 mark on it.  That’s solidly in the First category.  I was pretty proud but I know I can’t let up now.  I’m going to keep writing this stupid blog in case it makes even a sliver of a difference.  I’m not going to lose hope for the America I know.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this isn’t the America I know.  It is not the America I am going to represent.  I stand for a tolerant, inclusive America – not a country fueled by fear.

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.  

It is our job to keep them alive. 

Just to offer a little hope yesterday:

  • Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) became the first Latina US Senator.
  • Kate Brown (Oregon) became the first LGBT Governor ever.
  • Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) became our first Somalian-American Muslim woman legislator.
  • Kamala Harris (California) became our first female African-American senator since 1999.

The next four years are going to be rough.  But we have two options: we can hide or we stand proudly in the streets in solidarity with our fellow Americans. We must refuse to cower in the face of hatred and bigotry.  As Michelle Obama said, ‘When they go low, we go high.’  We have to stand together and show the world that we are not a people ruled by hatred.

Watching Hillary’s concession speech showed me that while she might not be our next president, you can be damn well sure she’s going to continue to fight for us.  She hasn’t lost hope.  I haven’t either.

So today after having one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had, I went to my 9 am.  I grabbed a coffee and worked on an essay.  I went to my 11 am archaeology lecture.  I grabbed an afternoon pint with some friends.  Then I went home and slept for six hours.  I was tired.  I was upset.  I got knocked down, but you can be damn sure that I’m getting back up.

I remember looking at a poster at my Junior High School when I was about 13. It had all the presidents on it and I remember thinking about how one day we’d finally have a women up there. It didn’t happen this year, but Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

I am beyond saddened by the result, but I know that we need to keep moving forward. We can allow this to knock us down, but we cannot allow this outcome to keep us from getting back up. We cannot dwell in our sadness and regret. We have to channel those emotions into creating the America I know we can be. We have to keep fighting for tolerance and equality.

So, yeah, I’m still with her.

 

 

Agincourt 601

Happy St. Crispin’s Day!  I’m half-way through first semester.

So far I’ve submitted two essays – one for Modern Scottish History and one for Osteology.

Backing up to last Friday, I had my first Osteology lab.  We had to articulate a set of replica bones.  This was to get us ready for our next lab… where we will be handed a box of fragmented Medieval remains and have to place them in the anatomically correct position.

And I know, I know… articulating human remains at 9 AM on a Friday sounds really morbid … but it’s core to understanding who we are as people.  Our bones can’t tell us everything but they are one of the few records that cannot lie.

In fact, archaeologists have been able to identify skeletons of English longbowmen from enlarged muscle attachments on their bow-arms from the repetitive drawing of the bowstring.  When compared with the fragmented bows found from the Mary Rose (a sunken Tudor ship) with estimated draw weight nearing 200 pounds they were able to create a better picture of the immense strength required to be a longbowman.  Especially for the Medieval period when there weren’t a ton of written sources or gym selfies floating around, archaeologists can gain real insight into the everyday life of a bowman, who for the most part were members of the peasant classes, by looking at their bones.

I mention this because today is St. Crispin’s day aka the 601st anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt – a very decisive victory for Henry V in the Hundred Years War.  Henry V, like a lot of English kings, heavily employed longbowmen against the heavy French chargers.

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.

The public heavily outnumber the academic community, so if we want to work on our projects (and get funding) we have to give the public a reason to care.  Which is a little sad, because personally, I don’t really understand why people don’t find the stories of where they came from/who they are/why they are compelling … but oh well.

Anyway, Agincourt.  It started when I first read Henry V when I was 13, then turned into a research project my sophomore year of high school, and later a Kansas State History Day documentary my senior year.  Truthfully, now, six years later, it’s a bit of an obsession.  But, the reason the story is so compelling is because of the circumstances surrounding it and how those translate today.

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 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, 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 stressed this sense of loyalty and honesty a lot while I was growing up.  (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.  It was during a particularly hard time in Middle School, the speech really resonated with that 13 year old version of myself.

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.’

My parents are pretty cool and I’m not just saying this because they’re reading this. (Hi Mom!)

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.

I’ve got a long way before I’m at any of their levels of leadership but I think I’m on the right track.

Scotland Soundtrack 17 + Archaeology Ranting

— begin public service announcement —

Hello all!  It’s me again, your friendly neighborhood expat here to remind you to get registered to vote/subsequently exercise your suffrage by, you know, actually voting.  Today is the last day for you all in Kansas to get registered!

— end public service announcement —

Following on that note, I cast my ballot last night from, of all places, my living room.  Since I won’t be in the US, I had to register as an absentee.  They emailed me my ballot, I filled it out, and emailed it back.  They’ll keep my ballot secure until the counting process begins on Nov 8.

It wasn’t exactly how I imagined I would be participating in my first election, I had been really excited to actually able to go to the polls and experience the American democratic process first hand, but it was pretty cool.  And in a little way, I think Hillary would appreciate a vote coming from me, a young lady, abroad, trying to get the best kick-ass education possible.

scarf

so soft, so warm. ❤

Other than that… I turned in my first essay this weekend.  It was a source crit of Donald MacLeod’s Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland, a first hand account of the Highland Clearances as experienced on the Sutherland estate.  Yesterday, I went to kickboxing class (I really missed kickboxing from back home, and tbh punching/kicking things is a great stress reliever.) and then right over to the CSE for a climbing competition. Busy.  I also finished knitting my scarf! (Yay, supporting local businesses and making my own stuff!!)  Now I can get back to knitting my blanket.

Today, I didn’t have anything until 3.10, so I spend all morning working on my Osteology short report about Infant Burials from Vlasac and Lepenski Vir, two Mesolithic/Neolithic sites from the Serbian side of the Iron Gates Gorges.  And surprise! Both sites were about thirty minutes from where I was excavating this summer in Schela Cladovei in Romania!  That report is due in on Oct 25 (the 601st anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt!).

10211507-199835029_2-s1-v1This weekend, I’m off to the Scottish Crannog Centre near Loch Tay with my Archaeology Class.  Crannogs are Iron Age houses built on stilts over lochs.  After the organic timber infrastructure collapsed they fell into the peat-boggy loch.  A lot of organic material such as textiles and even some food have been preserved from Crannogs.  It means that I’ll miss the Mystery Meet with the EUMC… but Crannogs.

10212405-199835029_2-s1-v1Then it’s back to the essay grind with my first Archaeology report due in on Halloween.  My report is on an artifact of my choice from one of the collections in the Early People’s Gallery at the NMS.  Depending on which collection the artifact came from I’ll answer one of the set questions.  I chose the Deskford Carnyx, a sort of Celtic War Trumpet found in the north of Scotland.  So then I’ll discuss this topic:

What is the changing nature of warfare and conflict that can be detected in the artefact record? What implications may this have for our understanding of society at the time?

Early thoughts for the report are that I’ll look at the connection between prestige and prowess in warfare in Celtic societies.  Thinking about how warfare moved from survival to creating/keeping status in society and how from the archaeological record and written records from the Romans that it appears Celtic society was linked very tightly with war.  The Carynx was a highly decorative object used in everything from religious ceremonies to warfare.  They’re often found as probably votive offerings in peat bogs but depictions of them were heavily distributed in Roman military propaganda as the ‘symbol’ of the Celts.

Anyway.  Enjoy the folk jams this week.  Very October.  I also discovered those cute little emojis you see in the post … you get to make your own that looks like you and I’m yelling because emoji me is the greatest.

I’m off to a talk about Post-Excavation Strategies at the NMS in about an hour so I’m making a quick dinner.

 

 

 

what i’ve been up to and some history.

Sorry, Mom, for the lack of updates.  I haven’t done a lot this week.

Unless you count catching a cold… which I wouldn’t.

But, let’s see.  It’s Wednesday.  I had my 9 AM Modern Scottish History Tutorial, we talked about ‘Why there wasn’t a revolution in Scotland during the same period as the French Revolution.’ I just had my Archaeology lecture on the transition between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic in Scotland.

Going back, I went climbing at Bowden Doors (near Belford) on Sunday.  Bowden is in Northumbria (Northeast coast of England).  It was a really great day out, the weather was fantastic and super sunny.  (It was actually a little concerning because it’s October.  I also just want it to snow right now so I can listen to Christmas music without judgement.) Driving down, we took the A1 along the coast.  It was really pretty.  It reminded me a lot of driving Highway 1 in California.

And I know I’ve said this a lot but, I’m so glad that I picked up climbing over here.  It has been a sorely needed change from the overly demanding/committing sport schedule I had growing up (which I really enjoyed but got super burned out on).  It’s nice being able to get and get a nice workout in but also get to enjoy going to cool places.

Speaking of cool places, from the top off of the climbs you could see Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castle.  Lindisfarne was known as the ‘Holy Island’ during the medieval period and was basically the English equivalent to Scotland’s Iona.  It was also the site of the first Viking raid (793 AD). Bamburgh Castle was the Anglo-Saxon stronghold of Northumbria.  The site had been used by local kings for over 3,000 years.  It’s in a really great defensive spot so duh they would keep living there.

Just being able to see both of those sites from a distance was incredible.  It really put the early medieval world in perspective.  The early medieval world was dominated by a tight connection between the Church and State.  Under Divine Right, a King was ordained by God and then it was the King chose who he wanted to represent God to his people.  Basically, a King picked the high ranking Church clergy.  This tight connection is very clearly illustrated by the proximity of Lindisfarne (the Church) to Bamburgh (the State).

Story time: in the 7th century, a guy called Oswald was king of Northumbria.  He lived in/around Bamburgh.  He was also king during a time of sorta civil war in Northumbria when the previously united kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira had broken up.  The Venerable Bede, a later 8th century historian raves about Oswald.  Anyway, Oswald was able to reunite the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, thus ending the sorta civil war.  He pretty much became the most powerful king in the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy (the seven main kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England).  He also reintroduced Christianity/established a new form of ‘Celtic Christianity’ in Northumbria.  How?  He invited St. Aiden an Irish monk from Iona to come and establish a new monastery … on Lindisfarne.  The island allowed for semi-independence for Aiden to establish his new monastery but it was still close enough to Oswald and the seat of political power.  Over time, Oswald and Aiden formed a tight partnership and secured both the political and religious stability of the region, because truthfully in the EMP (early medieval period) one had to secure both the loyalty of one’s people and the devotion of their beliefs.

Anyway, that’s a quick overview.  I probably got some stuff wrong, oh well.  Here’s a map to show how close they were.  I was climbing near Belford (right off the A1).

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-11-07-23-am

The rest of the week I’m researching for my upcoming essays and then this weekend I’m headed back to England for a weekend of camping in the Lakes District.  I’m really excited for this weekend, it’ll be nice to get of the city for the weekend.  The weather look excellent too.  I’ll also be taking a trad climbing course (I’ll learn how to place protective gear so I can then start leading trad routes).

Other than that, I guess it’s been pretty relaxed here.  I’ve fallen into a schedule that usually starts around 9.30 am because the blasted sun comes pouring in through my windows and makes it impossible to get anymore sleep.  I’m still knitting my blanket and it’s taking forever.  I’ve picked back up writing my 2nd novel and it’s also taking forever.  I’ve started listening to Christmas music because it makes me happy (I’m listening to Christmas music right now btw).

Edinburgh is starting to embrace the Halloween season, especially since it’s one of most haunted cities in Europe.  They’ve almost got the grandstands down off the Castle esplanade so I can finally go and enjoy one of my favourite views of the city.  The Meadows are changing colors and I can finally wear my jackets and scarves.

And that’s about it.  I wouldn’t say things around here have been too complicated.  I just do what I need to do for class and what makes me happy.