The latest in our occasional series takes a peek Inside the Mind of Lorna Richardson, well known to many archaeology users of Twitter.
Lorna is a PhD candidate at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, and an Honorary Research Assistant at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, where she researches the intersection of Public Archaeology and digital technologies. Lorna is the co-founder of the Day of Archaeology, a global blogging project for archaeologists, who record a day in their working lives and share it online on one day in the summer. She is also a member of the advisory committee for CASPAR (the Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice in Archaeology) and a member of the council for the British Archaeological Trust (RESCUE).
The Ten Questions:
What sparked your interest in Archaeology?
Regular visits to Norwich Castle museum, and living in a landscape rich in archaeology and history. I grew up with a Neolithic monument complex, a Roman fort, 2 Medieval castles, umpteen Medieval churches and a standing stone, all within spitting distance.
How did you get started?
I joined the YAC in my early teens, I volunteered at the Castle Mall excavation in Norwich when I was in the sixth form, and got involved with the field walking by Norfolk and Norwich Archaeology Society. I then did a degree in Medieval archaeology with Martin Welch, James Graham-Campbell and Gustav Milne. I still have all the reading lists from the Medieval archaeology courses Martin taught – Goths, Huns and Lombards was my favourite.
Who has most influenced your career?
Mum and Dad for encouraging me to go to university in the first place – the first in my family to get any qualifications!
Tim Schadla-Hall and Don Henson are great inspirations and have helped me immensely.
And I owe everything to Guy Hunt, Andy Dufton and Stu Eve at L-P Archaeology, who gave me the opportunity to do my first ever digital Public Archaeology project at Prescot Street.
Which has been your most exciting project to date?
The Day of Archaeology. It sprang from a Twitter conversation of all things, and has become a huge project, drawing from almost all continents, and it’s all organised and run for free with huge passion from everyone involved. I hope it continues to grow in years to come, and that it shows the world the variety of interesting and important work happening in archaeology. There is so much more to do in the next Day of Archaeology iterations. It’s exciting, heart-warming stuff with so much scope to involve new audiences.
What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?
Burgh Castle on the river Waveney in Norfolk. It has an amazing landscape setting, and my many visits there as a child really sparked my imagination about the Saxon Shore. It’s cold and windy, but a great place to exercise your archaeological imagination!
What is your biggest archaeological/heritage regret?
That archaeology is not part of the National Curriculum. Yet.
If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?
I would enshrine protection for HER officers in local authorities– too much expertise has been lost already.
If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?
If you want a longer narrative of British history in the curriculum, better educational opportunities for children outside the classroom, opportunities for people to get active outdoors, points of focus and cohesion for communities, and a vibrant and profitable tourism industry, stop cutting budgets for heritage and start supporting a part of the economy that a) actually attracts paying visitors to this country b) can be used in numerous ways in the National Curriculum and c) is unique, at risk, and deserves protecting.
If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?
I would be a mental health nurse. I trained as a nurse at Barts after finishing my first degree in the mid-90s, and it is my eternal regret that I never finished the last six months of the course due to illness. Perhaps I will get a chance to combine Public Archaeology and therapeutic work somehow in the future.
Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?
I walk my dog, watch films, read books and row for my local rowing club. That, and drink plenty of real ale. Archaeological tradition.
Many thanks to Lorna for taking part and providing her answers. Previous articles in this series can be found here, or by using our Search Bar, and the term ‘Inside the Mind of’.
If you work in community archaeology and would like to take part, or have a suggestion for a suitable willing subject, please contact us.