Monthly Archives: April 2017

Ice and Fire

Hi everybody,

My name is Adam Mead and I am a proud member of Durham University Archaeological Department. I am here to tell you about my project Ice and Fire but first I want to tell you a bit about myself. After working in sales it was my passion for archaeology that lead to investigations into possible careers in this area and ways of getting there. My academic journey started in the Durham University Foundation Centre and this was the basic platform of my current success and I will always be eternally grateful to everyone who helped me one my way. They offered me a place on Archaeology with Foundation programme and kick started my archaeological career which is now going from strength to strength.

Now about our project Ice and Fire!

 

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THE ESTON HILLS dominate today’s industrial landscape of the Tees estuary and the rugged coastline of north-east England. The community moors and woodlands are a wildlife haven that also bear testament to human endeavour since the end of the last Ice Age, 12,000 years ago.

The foothills are dotted with the remains of nineteenth-century mines that supplied the iron and steel industries for which Teesside became renowned around the world. Yet this is also a place where prehistoric pioneers recolonized the tundra, following the deer, where hunter-gatherers roamed the wetlands and forests, crafted their flint tools, where Bronze Age ancestors constructed a hillfort and buried their dead under mounds of earth—still visible today.

 

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Our heritage is at risk and ICE AND FIRE is a community project which aims to explore, record and celebrate the evidence for over ten thousand years of human life, death, ingenuity and persistence. The hills belong to the community of Teesside as a tranquil haven away from the bustle of modern life. Tragically, the hills are also plagued by acts of vandalism, illegal off roaders—and arson. The wetlands, which preserve evidence for past environments, are being irreparably damaged and the moorland is scarred by vehicle tracks. Our fragile, unique, irreplaceable heritage is at risk. Evidence left behind by Teesside’s first residents is literally being washed away. Fires scorch the thin peat which, until now, has protected the archaeology—evidence of our shared past.

Ice and Fire is a community based project designed to explore and record prehistoric archaeology at risk in eroding areas due to constant vandalism by 4×4 vehicles where artefacts have been found on the surface. Fieldwork will take place during the summer of 2017 and offers the opportunity to be part of a friendly team.

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Ice and Fire aims to establish the nature of prehistoric activity and state of preservation with test pits. The project is also going to sample wetland areas with an auger to investigate past environments and conduct seasonal field-walking to assess the broader extent of prehistoric activity.

Our volunteers will have the chance to learn about archaeological fieldwork techniques, recording and finds analysis under expert guidance—no previous experience is needed. Volunteers from different backgrounds will receive necessary training to assess the damage and obtain the relevant data required.

Ice and Fire offers rare opportunity to explore the early prehistory of Teesside, recolonize the landscape for first time after the last Ice Age, recover dating evidence and record surviving features and test geophysical prospecting methods against sub-surface archaeology.

We are promoting our unique heritage and encouraging the community to be proud and save what’s at risk!

 

 

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Meet the staff – Alison McManus

If you are ever in the mood to discuss literature and poetry find Dr Alison McManus. In our Foundation center she is the main enthusiast in a lot of projects projects such as Durham Book Festival and Poetry Exchange Project.  Here is what we found out about Alison for you.
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How long have you been a part of Foundation Centre and what do you do here?
Almost 12 years, I’ve taught a range of modules but am now mainly responsible for English Literature and some of the Academic English modules. I also run some of our outreach projects, including our Family Learning Roadshows and the Poetry Exchange.

What are your areas of interest in your subject?
Last year I submitted my PhD in English Literature, which included both critical and creative components. The creative component is a novel called ‘Branwell & Daphne’, and in brief the book is about famous novelist Daphne du Maurier’s obsession with the ambitious but ruined Brontë brother, who was sacked for ‘proceedings bad beyond expression’ from his final teaching post. I became fascinated by Branwell Brontë’s life and even more intrigued by Daphne du Maurier’s portrayal of him in her 1960 biography; further research uncovered the ways in which the lives of these two literary personalities intersected. The critical component of the thesis examines and establishes a legacy of Gothic fiction, starting with Jane Eyre, while also examining contemporary texts from a feminist and post-colonial perspective, such as the work of Sarah Waters, Alan Hollinghurst and Jo Baker, before a thorough analysis of two novels which belong to that literary legacy of Jane Eyre: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to teach in the area that I have researched and I love discussing those texts with students.

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Alison is treating students with sweets on a Foundation Centre trip

What are you scared of?
Donald J. Trump and his cronies

What are your guilty pleasures?
Cookery programmes, camping (even in the rain), a nice wedge of cheese on a cracker, accompanied by a decent glass of red wine, anything bookish or word-related: countless hours in bookshops and libraries, reading poetry & novels, playing board games & crossword puzzles, being pedantic about grammar J (sorry)

What is your favorite place on campus?
Two places: having my lunch in the gardens around Hilde Bede and I also love the Botanical Garden.

What kind of student were you?
As an undergraduate, I was a dreadful student. I procrastinated and partied far too much. It wasn’t until I came back to education after several years of teaching and traveling that I discovered how important it was to choose subjects that I was passionate about in order to maintain my interest. I also had to learn to be more organised and manage my time more effectively.

What would you advise to your new students coming this year?
I have spent ten minutes writing responses to this question and then deleting each one; it’s impossible to think of something that applies to every student and also doesn’t make me sound too much like my grandmother! Having said that, I think it is really important that students realise how much support there is on offer both in the Foundation Centre and across the university. Talk to someone if you are having problems sooner rather than later.

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Foundation Centre on the yearly trip to Bronte Museum