Happy New Year from Archaeodeath! I hope your 2022 is far better, healthier and more prosperous than all previous years!

I’m posting this reflection in my Archaeodeath activity for 2021.

Remember you can check out my published evaluation of my blog as digital public archaeology up to the end of 2018 here.

I reduced my output of blog-posts from 180 in 2020 to 120 in 2021, but I’ve been very busy still, posting on a similar range of content. I’ve also been continuing to develop complementary video content dimensions of my social media activity, principally my YouTube channel (at time of writing with 667 subscribers) and TikTok channel (at time of writing with 8044 followers). Indeed, for the first time I can defer the review to the video format of the YouTube review of the entire year!

Still, the WordPress blog continued to be popular, with an increased number of views and viewers upon all previous years, with a total of 104,844 visitors (the first time jumping past 90k!) and a whopping 162,496 views.

What a busy and stressful, unpredictable and dynamic year it has been in Archaeodeath terms!

Let me share my most-viewed blog-posts for 2021. Here are the top-25!

I’ve put the year of original publication after each title and this excludes my ‘About’ and ‘Home page/Archives’ which would be in the top 25 otherwise:

  1. King of Kings: Bjorn’s Howe in Vikings Season 6 part 2 (2021)
  2. The ‘Sutton Hoo Treasure’ Must Be Destroyed! (2015)
  3. Archaeologists Dig Up Fossilized Flying Saucer Filled with Cremated Aliens Slain by Giant Saint (2015)
  4. “Liar”, “Rapist”, “Murderer” and “Rich Bitch” – Naming and Displaying Corpses in The Walking Dead Season 4 (2017)
  5. Vikings – An Archaeodeath Review of Death in Season 1 (2015)
  6. Angrbotha’s Anti-Funeral – Vikings Season 4 part 1 (2016)
  7. Fire on the Water: Cremation in Game of Thrones Season 3 (2016)
  8. A Refutation of Lies: An Open Letter in Response to Defamation by Dr Helen Young (2021)
  9. Sign the Petition to save Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Chester (2021)
  10. Back Boris! (2019)
  11. The Dig – Sutton Hoo on Film (2021)
  12. Making Up Maketh Viking Warrior Women: An Archaeodeath Response Part 9 (2019)
  13. The Chewing Gum Girl (2015)
  14. Vikings Season 3: Making and Moving Ragnar’s Coffin (2016)
  15. Norse Mythology Jokes! (2019)
  16. The ultimate Viking funeral: farewell to Lagertha in Vikings Season 6 part 1 (2020)
  17. Save archaeology and heritage at Chester! (2021)
  18. Vikings Season 2 – Private Mourning and Infanticide (2015)
  19. Dragons at Caerphilly Castle (2018)
  20. Archaeodeath no longer ‘at risk’ (2021)
  21. Grave is all! Ragnar’s Lakeside Burial in The Last Kingdom Season 3 (2020)
  22. The Dig – Speaking with the Dead (2021)
  23. Death and Memory on the Coast: The Early Medieval Chapel and Cemetery of St Patrick, Heysham (2017)
  24. Five early ’80s music videos filmed at archaeological sites (2018)
  25. “Remembered With a Laugh” The Grave of Sir Norman Wisdom OBE (2016)

Another way of sharing my top-posts is to focus on only the most-viewed 30 new 2021 posts, in which case these are the most popular (the top six overlapping with the list above)!

  1. King of Kings: Bjorn’s Howe in Vikings Season 6 part 2
  2. A Refutation of Lies: An Open Letter in Response to Defamation by Dr Helen Young
  3. Sign the Petition to save Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Chester
  4. The Dig – Sutton Hoo on Film
  5. Save archaeology and heritage at Chester!
  6. Archaeodeath no longer ‘at risk’
  7. The Dig – Speaking with the Dead
  8. Dr Fran Allfrey’s Misrepresentations,
  9. DigiDeath: Public Archaeologies of Digital Mortality – 27th/28th January 2021 – Programme and Timetable
  10. The Mysterious ‘Arrow Stones’ of Shotwick
  11. Is there a future for the past?
  12. Archaeodeath ‘At Risk’
  13. Save Worcester Archaeology
  14. The Dig – Sutton Hoo’s Landscape and Burial Mounds
  15. MRes Archaeology by Distance Learning!
  16. Digging into the Dark Ages in 2021
  17. Against Racist and Dangerous Pseudoarchaeological Conspiracies: ‘Celtics’ and ‘Rome wasn’t Real’
  18. Save British Archaeology
  19. Envisioning Wat’s Dyke – A Project Unfolds
  20. Save Sheffield Archaeology
  21. Englishness and the Anglo-Saxons
  22. Viking ‘Warriors’ and ‘Women’ on Display
  23. Roman Rossett: Digging a Roman Villa
  24. ‘Do regret poor Lion’s fall’: Dog graves at Dunham Massey
  25. What’s Wat’s Dyke?
  26. Don’t Trade and Sell Human Remains!
  27. The Story of Welsh Art
  28. The Staffordshire Saxon
  29. The Dig – Out of the Dark Ages!
  30. #SaveSheffieldArchaeology – Rally and Beyond

Looking through these, you see the popularity of my reflections on TV dramas (Vikings, The Walking Dead, and The Last Kingdom) and films (notably The Dig) as well as other posts linked to popular culture and politics or simply being picked up by Google searches (Angrbotha has been popular because racists objected to the character’s representation in the video game God of War – not that I discussed that on my blog!).

You’ll also see examples of my media engagements (appearing on TV twice), my public engagement project ‘What’s Wat’s Dyke?’, promoting my colleague Dr Caroline Pudney’s Roman Rossett dig, and my review of the 6th UoC Archaeology Student Conference: DigiDeath.

My posts about actual real-world funerary sites, monuments and landscapes, and those reflecting on museum displays, also make an appearance in the most-viewed range.

You’ll also see something which I hope won’t be a feature of 2022’s posts: the past year’s campaigning against redundancies in my own University as well as Archaeology programme and department closures planned for Worcester and Sheffield.

Finally, for first time posts I’ve been compelled to respond to published defamation and misinformation regarding my academic work. I hope that I’m not compelled to compose any more of these in 2022.

Inevitably, some of the posts I’m most proud of and reflect my endeavours haven’t received much circulation as yet, including news that Offa’s Dyke Journal 3 for 2021 was published just in the nick of time before the end of the calendar year. Likewise, my post about the completion of my doctoral researcher, Abbie! A proud moment!

What next for Archaeodeath?

Looking back to my 2020 reflections, I upheld my commitment of producing 10 posts per month, down from 15 per month in 2020. This year I will try some new topics and approaches but I think I must reduce the number of posts I produce still further. Here’s why:

  • I need to balance the blog with my work on YouTube and TikTok in some regard and I haven’t worked out how;
  • I need to balance this digital labour with other work and personal commitments;
  • I’m still catching up following a disruptive and traumatic redundancy process during 2021 and the environment it has left behind in my institution;
  • this digital initiative and the research, writing and other forms of digital labour are not credited or recognised in any formal regard by my academic institution;
  • my digital public engagement has been repeatedly disparaged by academic colleagues as inadequate and/or misdirected, so I need to take stock and reflect on what I’m doing here and why;
  • I’m still in the process of reflecting on the hostile environment within UK Archaeology following the systematic behaviours to undermine efforts to support and sustain academic units and provision in Archaeology; do I really want to be putting my ideas ‘out there’ into this environment?;
  • I’m still dealing with the stress and upset of the long-term toxic consequences created online and through academic publications by defamation and misinformation regarding my work (see my posts above about the writings and statements of Dr Helen Young, Dr Fran Allfrey, Donna Dickens and others, including those in the UK archaeology community at a range of institutions). Do I want to be sharing materials when they are being flagrantly misrepresented and taken out of context in order to conjure defamation?;
  • I am participating in long-term UCU action-short-of-strike action over deteriorating pay and working conditions through until at least May.

Set against these circumstances, I am not able to commit to the character and frequency of my digital activities through 2022 at this time. January is for reflection about these matters. This is of course a great shame, but I do hope Archaeodeath will continue in some form during 2022!