blogging-archaeologyThis is my response to Doug’s blogging carnival January question: What is  your best post and why?

Since I began blogging in June 2013, I have posted 111 posts. I am quite proud of some of my academic posts, my commentaries on museum visits, explorations of the landscapes of Wales and England, my conference reports, and the reports on developments with the Archaeological Journal. I am also a fan of some of my more humorous blog posts, such as my recent one on the Viva-Day Diet, possibly because I am the only person in the universe that finds them amusing.

However, in terms of the stats alone, by far my most viewed blog entry, with 2,175 views, posted on 28th September 2013, was titled: ‘What is truly wrong about digging up Richard III’.

I am not sure the blog is anywhere near my best post. I simply suspect its popularity relates to two factors:

  1. I was commenting upon an extremely popular archaeological dig of 2012 and one that repeatedly hit the headlines and media ever since through documentaries and the ongoing dispute over where and how the remains, purported to be those of King Richard III, should be interred (Leicester or York).
  2. The blog might have been regarded as ‘controversial’ for seeming to criticise an archaeological project that was widely regarded as one of the most ‘important’and hence successful of recent years. Of course my criticisms were not aimed at the archaeologists involved, but at the royal necrophilia of those who chose to venerate dead royals as saints, and the shameful hypocrisy and near-fetishistic obsession the media have for dead celebrities (royal or otherwise). Even this wasn’t my main focus. I also discussed the relative disregard in the media for the many other, arguably far more exciting and important, research projects showing how archaeology can investigate the medieval past through human remains and mortuary contexts. Perhaps most shameful is that many thousands of medieval skeletons have been uncovered by recent archaeological digs and many will never receive adequate investigation and curation due to the limitations on funds for post-excavation work within the current developer-led funding system. None of this should detract from the distinctive and interesting nature of the Leicester excavation and the importance of the dig in serving as a flagship for what archaeology can do by grabbing popular appeal.

I recently received confirmation from Professor Sarah Tarlow of Leicester University that this blog has not made me a hate-figure in her department: she understood I wasn’t trying to denigrate her colleagues but to debate broader issues regarding how medieval mortuary archaeology is researched and portrayed in contemporary society. I am much-relieved.