Well, I’ve been blogging for 4-and-a-half years now and amassed 930 blog posts on a variety of subjects from my research projects and publications, visits to museums, heritage sites, ancient monuments, churches, landscapes and cityscapes, and opinions about new mortuary archaeological research. I’ve also developed posts on public portrayals of mortuary archaeology on TV and film. Most of my posts are seen by a very small number of people, but the point of doing this blog is not for mass communication, but to provide a repository and resource for myself and for others interested in dimensions of mortuary archaeology. I’m only rarely controversial, but unsurprisingly it has been those posts that have attracted the most views.
Also, my blog seems to be getting more popular. I visualise my stats as of Christmas Day 2017, to show how my blog, disseminated via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, is now getting over 100,000 views-per-year.
The Archaeodeath Top-Ten
My all-time top-ten posts, excluding static pages, are as follows. Unsurprisingly they compromise a mix of my more controversial and humorous topics, addressing both big debates in mortuary archaeology and their popular reception and perception:
- What is truly wrong about digging up Richard III
- Archaeologists agree that most ancient tombs were built for complete a***holes
- What’s Wrong with Photographing the Dead?
- Vikings Seasons 1 and 2 – An Archaeodeath Review
- Viking Warrior Women: An Archaeodeath Response Part 1
- Vikings – An Archaeodeath Review of Death in Season 1
- Ethnic diversity in Roman Britain: it all kicks off with images
- Putting Merlin to Death? Tintagel, Art and the Death of Imagination
- The ‘Sutton Hoo Treasure’ Must Be Destroyed!
- Darth Vader’s Mask Strikes Back: Star Wars Crematifacts Explored
Most of my posts about my own core research and my visits to sites and landscapes receive far fewer views, but that isn’t a problem at all: even if only a handful of people read and benefit from a blog post, I’m communicating my ideas and research to different audiences, academic and popular, than I might otherwise achieve through my academic publications. Therefore, these are individually and collectively worthwhile as much as those that receive most views. Also, my static pages about my publications also get many, many hits and my Home Page gets far more hits than any individual post, suggesting people are browsing through it a lot.
But it is perhaps the 11th-most-popular blog post of all time that reminds me why I’m doing this. Simply called ‘Why Decorate Early Anglo-Saxon pots?‘ it summarises the results of a short research paper by Ruth Nugent and myself in 2012. It shows how the blog can operate to not only debate controversial topics. This one blog post also draws on my wider research interests and past publications on early Anglo-Saxon cremation practices. With over 1,4oo views, even if only a fraction of those viewing actually read it fully, this hits a wider audience than any individual publication on early Anglo-Saxon cremation practice I will have produced elsewhere. The fact that even some, let alone the 11th-most viewed blog post, read the blog for early Anglo-Saxon pots, not just Star Wars, Vikings and the rest, is bloody brilliant!
Another thing that reminds me why I’m doing this is when I meet new students, people at local talks and other public venues, who know my research because of my blog, more than because of my books and journals. Indeed, I’ve made a few enemies, but also far more friends, via blogging, than by any other single medium, even conference attendance, presentations and networking. Indeed, very recently, I met for the first time a senior figure in a heritage organisation who told me they really appreciated the criticisms of my blog of their heritage sites and monuments, and thought I gave a critical but fair and balanced view on particular issues regarding the presentation of the Early Middle Ages. That was flattering, but also informative that the blog is a medium that is making some kind of impact among heritage professionals and academics, as well as wider publics.
So, in summary, the blog is a moderate success and therefore I aim to continue with it through its 5th year into the summer, and beyond.