Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Rachel Pope’

In With The New – Week 29 of the Oswestry Heritage Comics

2017 is drawing to a close – it’s a time for reflection and resolutions; a time for looking back and looking forward. History, archaeology and heritage are all about looking at the past while also looking to the future. It’s impossible read about the Romans, help excavate a mediaeval site or put together a family history without in some way thinking about how our world and the way we live might look to people in years to come. And it’s impossible to visit an old castle, walk an ancient footpath or look at old family photographs without wondering whether these things will be around tomorrow. Reflecting on the past shines a particular kind of light on things we take for granted today.

It’s not a perfect light, of course – you can’t use the past to “predict” the future: history doesn’t repeat itself in quite that way. But understanding how our grandparents and great-grandparents lived through the experiences of two World Wars, understanding the way the border between England and Wales has changed and developed over the centuries, understanding the way in which conflict, commerce, culture and religion have shaped the history of Oswestry – as local researchers like Dr. Rachel Pope have pointed out: all this helps build up an idea of how similar things might affect us today, and might affect the world we will be living in tomorrow.

This is why heritage is important, and this is why we need to think carefully about the place we make for our past both now – and tomorrow. The Oswestry we’re building for ourselves today is based on the Oswestry of yesterday: the Oswestry that our grandparents, great-grandparents and generations of our ancestors before them built. In the same way, the Oswestry of tomorrow will be built on what we do today – and this will be the world in which our children and grand-children will live in. What kind of place will we leave them? What kind of Oswestry will they live in?

Planning for the future – like thinking about 2018, in this week between Christmas and New Year – needs to be done with one eye on the past. As we think about what kind of Oswestry we want – what we want in terms of housing, roads, schools, social services, hospitals, jobs and training – we need to bring together reflection and resolution: we need to look back as well as forward, and learn some lessons from the past.

Happy New Year!

The Oswestry Heritage Comics are a year-long series of weekly newspaper comic strips about the archaeology, history and heritage of the area around Oswestry, Shropshire in the UK. The comics are published in the Oswestry and Border Counties Advertizer every Tuesday, and on Facebook. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Panel from my first visit to Penycloddiau. Click for the whole comic.

Panel from my first visit to Penycloddiau. Click for the whole comic.

What did you do for “Day of Archaeology“?

I went up to the top of Penycloddiau hillfort in North Wales to visit Dr. Rachel Pope and Rich Mason and their team of students from the Liverpool Archaeological Field School, who are excavating up there – and I made a comic!

Rachel and I got to know each other through the campaign to help protect the site of Old Oswestry Hillfort. It turned out that she knew of my comics work for CADW and was a fan. She “got” the idea of using comics both as a community/public outreach medium for archaeology, and as a way of embedding the visual context of archaeological discussion/information in with the text.

So for this year’s #dayofarch, I climbed up to see the excavations Rachel is directing at Penycloddiau. The team are working on the eastern bank of the hillfort, with trenches over the historical entrance through the iron age rampart, and a second trench over one of the house platforms. Great site – great archaeology – and now I’m going to be collaborating with the team, using comics to help with public and community outreach.

The four-panel comic I did after my visit is just a brief introduction to the collaboration. As their field season unfortunately coincides with my own out on Palau, we’ll have to juggle the practicalities of working together at such a distance. But something will come of it – although maybe we’ll have to wait until after the summer to do much more than a handful of 4-panel strips.


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