Growing up in a family of scientists, I always kind of saw myself as ‘the arts student’ and (much beloved) black sheep. After high school, I moved from America to the UK to study Medieval History and English at the University of St Andrews. When the time came to start thinking about dissertation topics I initially considered writing something on the artistic response to the Black Death. I surprised everyone, myself included, by suddenly deciding to study the medicine of the period instead.
St Andrews is gorgeous just fyi. I go back whenever I can.
Aside from that dissertation, one of the most influential modules I took while at university was a course on castle studies. It is amazing how a really good teacher or professor can just push your life down a certain path without necessarily even knowing it. (Although I certainly hope my high school history teacher knows just how much she influenced me. Shout out to Ms. P-B!) Even before beginning my undergraduate degree, my plan had always been to follow it up by doing an MA in film production. I spent my summers while home from uni interning for a local video production studio. I knew what I wanted to do, or so I though. After the castle studies module, I decided I wanted to do my postgraduate degree in archaeology.
Just about to start my MA, all fresh-faced with excitement.
After graduation I moved down to the University of York. My degree subject was officially Medieval Archaeology, but this being a new discipline for me I wanted to try a range of specialties. In my first term, I chose Human Osteology for my optional module. I found it absolutely fascinating and quickly signed up for as many of the modules on the Bioarchaeology program as I could, and audited some of the others. For my dissertation, I carried out osteological analysis of a population of Anglo-Saxon skeletons, using dental pathology as a way to assess health and diet.
So it seems I am unable to escape my parentage (not that I want to). I love history, but the sciences keep finding ways to draw me back in.
Yeah, my parents also love camping. And classical music. And tea. And actually I share their taste in just about everything. Except they still haven’t converted to duvets. Duvets are a magical invention.
When I finished my MA in the middle of a recession (yipee!) my most viable option seemed to be museum work, specifically museum-based education. Kids still need to learn things, right? I spent a while interning and volunteering, both before and after completing my studies, and eventually I got a job as an Explainer at the National Railway Museum here in York. (Fast-forward to today, I now work part of the time as a Visitor Fundraiser, part of the time for the Corporate Events team, and occasionally as the Switchboard Operator, as well as delivering education programs. Never a dull moment.)
I haven’t abandoned my interest in archaeology though. I spend a good deal of my free time volunteering with a variety of community excavations. Digging in the mud is definitely a favourite pastime, oddly enough for someone with OCD.
Excavating the ditch of a Roman marching camp as part of York Archaeological Trust’s ‘Dig York Stadium’ project.
My other hobby is riding, specifically historical riding, specifically putting on lots of armour and riding around at high speed in front of a crowd destroying targets with a sharp spear. Or as some people like to call it, Roman cavalry reenactment. (Sometimes Roman, sometimes Greek, or medieval, or whatever show we’re asked to put on really.)
Cutest warhorse ever, in my humble opinion.
If you have read all that and come away with the impression that I am slightly lacking in focus, well okay, you may have a point. Even as a child I wanted to do everything. I did gymnastics, played football (soccer to my fellow Americans), went to sailing camp and rock climbing camp, took horse riding lessons, played the violin and the piano, sang in several choirs, and occasionally threw in a bit of theatre just for fun. I didn’t necessarily do all of these at the same time, but at any given age I was involved in some combination of several of the above.
So you could say that my interests are eclectic. It would probably be easier to list the things I’m not interested in. (Golf. It bores me to distraction. Also ‘superfoods’ and the ‘paleo’ diet. Any recipe which includes those words is immediately binned.) And this is the part where we come back to introducing myself and my blog. Because I can’t tell you quite what topics you’ll find me writing about. There will probably be a lot about museums, and a lot about history and archaeology, but after that who knows. So welcome to . . . whatever this is . . .