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Posts Tagged ‘prehistory’

Related imageI’m heading to the “Drawing on the Past” comic at UCL tomorrow – a conference about comics and the pre-modern world. There are some excellent papers lined up from people like Glynnis Fawkes and Sonya Nevin. I’ll be doing a poster presentation on depicting the “other-ness” of prehistory in community heritage comics, looking at examples from the Oswestry Heritage Comics, comics about Offa’s Dyke and my recent comics work on Yap. And on Monday afternoon, Hannah Sackett and I will also be leading a short workshop on making archaeological comics.

It looks to be a really interesting conference for anyone interested in the way in which our shared past is, can or could be represented in comics – and some of the potentials and pitfalls involved in the use of the medium.

UCL Senate House, London 10-11th September 2018, room G22/26

Registration via Eventbrite

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capel_brenig_panelOver the past few months, I’ve been jotting down notes for short archaeological comics. One of the things I think that comics might do well in archaeology is to try and catch hold of some of the less-obvious, less-tangible context of what one might call the experience of being an archaeologist. Yes, a lot of the context of our research and our daily practice is played out on site, in the lab, in the site office, or in a museum – but a significant portion of the experience of being an archaeologist is felt when archaeology intersects with outside contexts. Suddenly we see the past through the lens of an entirely different world-view.

On my recent walk, I was out with two non-archaeologists. Halfway through our walk, we stopped for lunch at a convenient picnic table – located right next to a burial mound, a ring cairn, a mesolithic hearth-site, the remains of two mediaeval house-platforms, and the ruins of a nineteenth-century farmhouse. My fellow walkers registered the stunning view, the beauty of the natural scenery, the birds, the lake, the wildflowers, the picturesque ruined building and grassy hillock – but, despite the interpretation boards nearby, never really saw what I saw. Can anyone with an archaeological frame of reference ever see a Bronze Age burial mound as just a scenic-looking lump in a field?

It’s this difference in seeing and understanding a landscape that I’m hoping this short comic can capture.

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Stone Calendars - Inside Bryn Celli Ddu; panel from the last of my Anglesey comics.

Stone Calendars – Inside Bryn Celli Ddu; panel from the last of my Anglesey comics.

Ah, this takes me back! I’m working on the third of the Anglesey archaeology comics for CADW and MB Heritage Management. I’ve finished the comics for Llyn Cerrig Bach and Barclodiad y Gawres, and now I’m working on the comic for Bryn Celli Ddu.

It’s always been one of my favourite prehistoric sites on Anglesey (although I’m ambivalent about the new approach to the site itself – I preferred it when you could just go from the old farm; you get a much, much better feel for the site in the landscape. Getting to it via the new, hedged-in path makes you feel like you’re tunnelling to it from the road). And it’s clearly other peoples’ favourite as well. The site has all sorts of things to recommend it to the visitor, but something in particular has attracted a lot of specialised attention over the years.

I’m talking, of course, about the solar alignment of the tomb – a significant (and unique) feature of the site. This has, over the years, given the site a special kind of significance to modern-day pagans, druids and others.  Back in the summer, the local druid group had a double-page spread in the Sunday Times photographed at the site. They join other minority stakeholders such as prehistoric re-enactors who are playing an increasingly mainstream role in the way the site is used, perceived and presented. Part of the brief for the Llyn Cerrig Bach comic is to address these shifts and tie them into the “traditional” archaeological story of the site – a story which has itself changed significantly, as the site’s solar alignment – long disparaged and marginalised by mainstream archaeological scholarship – has recently been re-investigated, confirmed and published in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society.

So as much as working on this comic is taking me back, there’s also a lot of new things to grapple with as well. How very archaeology!

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