You are currently browsing the daily archive for 13/03/2012.

Next in our series is Carenza Lewis, probably best publicly known for her TV work including appearances in Time Time, House Detectives and Michael Wood’s Story of England.

Brief Bio:

Interested in archaeology since childhood, Carenza Lewis graduated from Girton College, Cambridge in Arch and Anth and then went to work as an archaeological investigator for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. In 1993, she was asked to be part of the first Time Team, a new TV series that had then just been commissioned by Channel 4. In 2004, Carenza left the series and began working for the University of Cambridge, combining lecturing in Medieval Archaeology with setting up a new outreach and widening participation programme. This now includes the ‘Higher Education Field Academy’, which brings together research and outreach, aiming to raise the academic aspirations and achievements of young people via active, individual involvement in new university excavation and research into the origins and development of rural settlement.

The 10 Questions:

What sparked your interest in Archaeology?

I was interested in dinosaurs as a child and used to go fossil hunting in the fields around the Norfolk farm where I grew up.

How did you get started?

I went on a dig at Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall, then on to do a degree in archaeology at Cambridge, and then a post as an investigator for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) – now part of English Heritage

Who has most influenced your career?

Hmm, difficult, as my career has been very varied and involved working in different sectors with very different people. Probably Professor Christopher Dyer.

Which has been your most exciting project to date?

The Higher Education Field Academy programme, I think, because it’s given thousands of teenagers the chance to raise their aspirations through archaeological excavation.

What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?

That’s REALLY difficult – there are so many. But if I had to choose one (and I guess I do!), then probably Avebury in Wiltshire – I used to live nearby, and went there frequently, but also worked on the survey of it with RCHME and filmed it for a TV series a few years ago as well, so it’s meant a lot to me in different ways. It’s got so much going for it – it’s an amazingly impressive piece of engineering (the photos of the ditch sections under excavation are still almost unbelievable); it’s had some fantastic archaeological investigations carried out on it and been studied by some of the best archaeological brains, but still remains mysterious; and it’s a fantastic multi-period site, which is always interesting, but at Avebury, with the village inside the henge it’s impossible not to get drawn into wondering what medieval communities thought of the standing stones, banks and ditches encircling them – the meaning behind the position of the church in relation to the henge has alway intrigued me! Plus it’s a beatiful archaeological site with a pub inside it!

What is your biggest archaeological/heritage regret?

Currently, that we didn’t manage to find out more about the context of the Staffordshire Hoard – it’s still so tantalising. Otherwise, that so many archaeological sites got ransacked in the pre-modern era and not recorded properly (or at all!).

If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?

To make it a legal requirement that all archaeological remains threatened by development should be investigated and recorded appropriately at the cost of the developer.

If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?

That archaeology – including hands-on excavation where possible – should be an integral part of the secondary school curriculum. All my experience has shown that it’s an immensely effective way of providing genuinely inspiring learning for history, geography and science, and that this sort of experience which enthuses and empowers children by enabling them to make new discoveries for themselves which are valuable to others, revitalises children’s enthusiasm for learning generally in a way that nothing else can match. We’ve seen it happen thousands of times…

If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?

I’ve no idea – at no stage in my rather varied career to date did I ever anticipate what would happen next, so I certainly can’t imagine what else might have happened had things turned out very differently. It would depend at which stage it had gone wrong…

Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?

With a young-ish family as well as my work, I don’t get much time for relaxing these days!

Once again, our thanks go to Carenza for taking part in the series.

Earlier entries in this series:

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