The Round Mounds Project on tour: talks and conference presentations

It’s certainly been a while since we last posted on the Round Mounds Project blog but the last few months have been really rather busy, so we hope you’ll excuse us…

Since we last posted on this blog we’ve all but completed the field and laboratory work for our second (and final!) batch of sites, with only one more site left to go – the “enigmatic” Forbury Mound on our own doorstep in Reading – very soon we’ll be posting updates on the results of this fieldwork…

But we haven’t just been surveying mounds, drilling boreholes and staring down microscopes these last few months (not all the time, anyway), we’ve also been busy with another essential part of any academic’s job: getting out there and talking about our work.

Starting off in February, Jim and Elaine returned to East Sussex to speak to the Lewes Archaeological Group, where they discussed not only the unusual story of one of the local monuments – the Mount – but also the full set of results from our first year of fieldwork.

The following month it was my turn to give an evening talk, this time returning to my old stomping ground in Winchester, and the beautifully atmospheric venue of the Hospital of St Cross to speak with another very active and friendly local group – The HADS.

At the end of March, we traveled a little further afield to speak to a somewhat different audience, when Elaine, Jim and myself, as part of a healthy contingent of representatives of the Reading Department of Archaeology, attended the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Vancouver, Canada. This as my first time at an SAA conference, and it was a real eye-opener – a great opportunity to share research with people not just from ‘across the pond’ but from all over the world! It was also a great opportunity to visit a truly amazing city – there were so many highlights, but for me the Museum of Anthropology topped the lot.

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Poles on display outside the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver

It wasn’t all sight-seeing though, as the three representatives of the Round Mounds Project team attending the Vancouver conference participated in a symposium entitled “Global Perspectives on the Archaeology of Ritually Mounded Landscapes” organised by colleagues from the Australian National University, The University of Sydney, and from Monash University. This was a really exciting session covering a whole variety of archaeological approaches to the study of various kinds of mounds from landscapes as diverse as the Island of Tanna in Vanuatu to Jaketown, Mississippi… and of course mounds in the UK. Jim Leary, leader of the Round Mounds Project, took the role of discussant at the session, faced with the task of weaving together common themes in the study of mounds and mounded landscapes across the world. Elaine Jamieson talked about our approach to looking at the landscape (introduced in an earlier post on this blog) and incorporating a discussion of some of the rich folklore and legends that are attached to the creation of mounds in her paper entitled: “Wizards, Dragons, and Giants: Creating Motte Castles in an English Landscape”. Finally, I also gave a paper – perhaps more of a methodological bent than most of the others – talking about how we approached the dating of our mounds: “Heaps of Time: Methodological Considerations for Dating Earthen Mound Construction”. For anyone who is interested, I have made the powerpoint slides for this talk available online here on SlideShare.

Back in the UK, our most recent talk was closer to home, we returned to a town familiar to us from our 2015 field season when paid a visit to our friends at The Wallingford History and Archaeology Society (TWHAS). This talk, which was very well attended, was delivered as a kind of triple-act, with Jim, Elaine and myself all speaking about the various aspects of our project to date.

It’s a real perk of my job as a researcher to be able to go out and meet so many people who are genuinely interested in what we do, so we must say a big thank you to all those who have invited us to come and speak about our work over the last few months! Now, suitably refreshed after some time out and about, it’s back to the office to write-up the next batch of results – watch this space for updates coming soon!

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