Today was able to attend the Council for British Archaeology Wessex Section‘s conference at Larkhill. The title of the conference was “A Question of Conflict: The Archaeology of Warriors, Weaponry and Warfare in Wessex”. A mix of archaeological periods and topics led to a fantastic day, hearing from experts in their field.
Yet last night I was panicking over a question of an entirely different nature… What exactly do you wear to an archaeological conference? Having now been to the conference I realise I had nothing to worry about as everything from formal to archaeologist at work could be seen.
Personally I opted for my standard (lazy) smart casual leggings and tunic. Admittedly, they were covered up by my trusty black cloak (see my coat debate) and blue pashima but that’s not surprising now it’s November. The tunic was a sixties-esque one from the Red Cross while the leggings and ankle boots were standard black. I finished it off with a pair of cubic zirconia earrings, silver cross and a white china pattern pendant (from the Red Cross’ Encore range).
The conference itself was a great opportunity and one I was really grateful to receive. I was invited as a guest of Julian Richard, a well-respected archaeologist with expertise on Stonehenge. I originally met Julian as a volunteer on the community project Layers of Larkhill. Julian gave a talk on the military aspect of this project, including work with young soldiers from the Artillery School. Having been a part of the project, I always enjoy Julian’s presentations on it. Other speakers included John Smith, Richard Osgood, Michael Costen and Dr. Stuart Prior.
John Smith talked on the Roman military and came complete with a re-enactor dressed as a Roman soldier. The bit that amazed me the most is that the standard Roman soldier stereotype is made up of pieces of armour chronologically separated by up to 200 years. After the coffee break, we moved onto the first civil war in the twelfth century. Known as the Anarchy, the war between Stephen and Matilda had a massive impact on the Wessex region. The focus of this presentation by Michael Costen and Dr. Stuart Prior was the castles that sprung up across the area.
After lunch came one of the most interesting presentations. Richard Osgood presented on the use of Salisbury Plain and the simulacra of war. Did you know that there is a mock Afghan village in the middle of Salisbury Plain? There are trench systems from World War 1 to the Cold War that were used for training soldiers. It’s all about turning one landscape into another to prepare soldiers for overseas deployment. And all this happens around scheduled monuments, some of which were once training models themselves.
I didn’t waste lunch either. The above photos feature the Neolithic village that was created as part of the Layers of Larkhill. As it was just across the road from the conference I took the opportunity to visit it and have a bit of a break. The standing stone, burial mound and neolithic house were built by the local schoolchildren and young soldiers. A fantastic achievement and one that will hopefully last for years.
So that’s how I spent my Saturday. How about you?