The Archaeoden – where the past comes to life!

This has been a busy week copy-editing resubmissions for the Archaeological Journal volume 171. Papers on exciting new research into the chronology of the early Neolithic, depositional practices in the Iron Age, brooches and identity in early Roman Britain, the significance of hair in early medieval societies, and the Viking Age in the north-west of England. I am now copy-editing a paper on stonemasons’ drawings on building fabric – really cool stuff! I have also been working on a co-edited book that I will tell you about in another blog.

In addition, the Archaeoden has had an overhaul. I have repositioned my cheap IKEA desk and shelves and added a little fold-up table purchased from Dunelm Mill. These together create what is, and was, and will be, the Archaeoden. Situated in the corner of the ‘spare room’ that is in fact soon to be my son’s room when I am not using it and after this research year is over.

I have added my 2013 The Hobbit calendar and stuck up postcards of (among other things) the Mold Cape, Pilsen cathedral and a Victorian effigy tomb from Margam church. I have also stuck up the Programme of Meetings 2013-14 of the RAI. Also, the keen-eyed among you will notice the 19th EAA Annual Meeting Pilsen conference bag and the ridiculous biro-quill I purchased at Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths.

I have surrounded myself with piles of archaeological books for my forthcoming work on research articles on early medieval death and burial and contemporary commemorative practices. On my shelf, I have given pride of place to the newly published vol. 169 of the Archaeological Journal which I have been narcisistically fondling between editing and writing sessions.

There are all manner of other books. These include essential tools for consulting when editing (Archaeological Journals of the last decade included). dictionaries, a world atlas, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Pears Cyclopedia, books on wildlife, the Complete  Works of Shakey, David Mitchell’s autobiography, the complete scripts of the A Bit of Fry and Laurie and the Track Atlas of Mainland Britain. Not to mention the Complete Guide to Middle-Earth and Stephen Plogs’ Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest. All key sources of inspiration for both writing and editing in the Archaeoden.

The Atlas and Gazetteer

Still, I want to draw your attention to one other recent acquisition, and shockingly it is frivolously non-archaeological in content: published by Ian Allan, it is The British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer by W. P. Conolly. Now my dad has a copy of this gazetteer and I liked looking at it as a child. Despite some poor-quality reprinting in the version I possess, this is a great guide to have by your workstation. Railways still in operation are mapped, but it is great to see who once owned and ran trains on them in days of yore. It also maps the railways long-gone and now lost or turned into heritage steam railways or cycle tracks. From this wonderful publication, I learned that I travel on what was the Great Western Railway (GWR) when I commute to Chester, but that my local line past my house was once run by the Great Central Railway from Wrexham to Birkenhead. Equally, when I take this line to Shotton and get off and cycle into work from there, the cyclepath I peddle along was also once an offshoot of the Great Central to Chester through Blacon.

During my research year, this is where it will all happen, where the past will come to life… in one way or another. Or maybe I will simply end up looking at the gazetteer at the complex pre-grouping railway systems of Greater London, Renfewshire, Nottinghamshire and Merseyside…