Take the red/white/black survey!

Related to my research, I’m trying to understand our relationship with red, white, and black in current cultures. The Google form below records this information (anonymously – although I ask for age and gender details to see if patterns emerge, I cannot track any other data such as IP or location). It takes roughly 2 minutes and I’m looking to gather as many samples as possible!

Instructions are in the form itself. Many thanks, and I’m looking forward to sharing the results!

Take the short survey  – Google Forms

PhD Journey #5 – Calm down dear, it’s only your thesis

I believed myself a strong proponent of my work – unafraid to get up and talk about it, to deliver speeches on the twists and turns of colour in the ancient world. I also believed that I was not afraid to speak my mind when I believed in something – after all, I’ve been an active union member in every job for the last seven years, and before that worked for charities that spoke out for minorities and rallied for their cause. I am unafraid of telling my truths.

And yet, I realise I still filter myself when speaking about my research. I’m wary of speaking about my findings in definitive terms and stating my case in a partial way, of pinning my colours to my chest. Quite literally. I started to fluster over giving the colours I am studying direct meaning, of saying, “Given x and y findings, I conclude that this colour means z”. I obfuscated. Elided that part of my work and prioritised speaking about the “bigger picture” – until last week.

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PhD Journey #4 – Herd Immunity

It’s 4 in the morning when the doubts wake you and the birds don’t yet sing and you think to yourself – I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. The doubt is like an infection, attacking your sense of perspective and self-confidence and even the passion for your work, until the final state of paralysis occurs. Four in the morning is a terrible time.

When you think of a biological contagion, like measles or TB or whooping cough, you’ll likely be familiar with the term “herd immunity” – the protective embrace of a largely immune, vaccinated community that protects those within it too young or too immuno-compromised to be vaccinated themselves.

How do you apply these principles to that 4 in the morning feeling of doubt, to protect yourself from the paralysis of worry?

You find a herd of archaeologists and enthusiasts just as into old rocks as you, go on a road trip to Wales, bomb around some back roads with an OS map, and let the warm glow of a sense of community wash over you.

Obligatory group shot at Presaddfed chambered tombs, taken Helen S.

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PhD Journey #3 – Field Agent

When you’ve decided to do the pilot study for your research model, that will form the basis of your upcoming work in the field and all that it entails, here are my top tips:

  • Don’t plan it in the first three months of the year in a country famed for wet weather, especially if your main piece of equipment is not waterproof,
  • Do not succumb to those “you know, it would be better if you did it *this* way…” 4AM thoughts, especially if it is two days before said pilot study and the improvements will involve several hours cutting, drilling, and soldering in a shed,
  • Don’t go during the school holidays unless you are prepared to answer the same seven irrelevant questions over and over and over and over (as a primary school teacher, I was equipped for this, but I recognise others might prefer a little more peace and quiet).
  • DO – go to a place as wonderful, atmospheric, and as fascinating as Bryn Celli Ddu.


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Resolutions – a year in ruins

The impossibly futuristic sounding 2016 is here, and with it, the expectation to create resolutions to govern the progress over the coming year. Now, I’ve very recently drafted my planned timeline for my PhD progression which felt a lot like making resolutions – I will submit a paper to x publication, I will network at x conference – but there some rather more personal resolutions I’m willing to commit to (virtual) ink and line. Continue reading

PhD Journey #1 – Literature Review Buckaroo

You remember Buckaroo, right? The game where you pile a series of unrelated and nonsensical items onto the back of a stubborn, uncooperative mule until, at an arbitrary point, it kicks off and sends said items flying, inevitably smacking you in the eye with a plastic approximation of a suitcase and making you cry?

Yes, that’s just like doing a literature review.

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Lost Gold: Scrumping for the Forgotten Treasures of the British Orchard

October isn’t all stocking up on family size bags of funsize mars bars and cursing in the general direction of half cored out pumpkins – no, it’s also apple season. If you live even vaguely near the countryside, you will probably have seen signs for “Apple Day”, held at gardens, orchards, National Trust properties, and other fine establishments. It’s the one time of year when the general public see more than half a dozen variety of apples, and more importantly, they’re all fresh off the local trees.

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