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April 9, 2009

I’m continuing to struggle with a dissertation topic. I’ve been hoping to find some sort of British analog to Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg in the UK, preferably in SW England. I have not had great success on this front, and I’m starting to think that I’m coming at things from the wrong direction, historical rather than archaeological.

I’ve got a short list of 17th, 18th and 19th century natural philosophers and scientists who might have left their mark on the landscape, and I’ve looked into their history a bit, but each of them could lead to blind alleys. Spending much more time closing in on such seems like it could be a waste of my resources.

I’m slowly coming around to thinking that it’s best to take up what you’ve already got on the ground. Archaeology relies a lot on chance finds (albeit, one needs to be informed and skilled enough to recognized those chances). One can certainly stick with a period and with certain approaches, but beyond that one is going to have to take what comes. I’m still jealous that two of my lecturers recently came upon the electrical infrastructure used by an early 19th century investigator into galvanism in said investigator’s garden.

The other trick is about proving yourself and getting networked, such that one becomes the person who is consulted when a certain type of find comes to light, another good reason to start small, but keep my eyes and ears open.

So, what am I interested in doing for my dissertation instead, assuming that nothing comes to light? I had originally been thinking of doing prehistory, neolithic specifically, but I really haven’t looked much into that over the course of my terms. I’ve done far more post-medieval work, which has the fortunate complement of the historical record. I quite enjoyed researching Arno’s Castle and a lot of my time spent in records offices. But the opportunity that’s staring me in the face is an island that’s within the aegis of my current DBA project in Worcester. It certainly would fit within the scope of my landscape program. It’s been thought to have been a place for citizens of Worcester to retreat to in times of trouble. In the 11th century and in the 17th specifically. It also looks like it was incorporated into a garden landscape in the 19th century. It still bears some thinking thought.

For the moment, I need to just keep musing on it and also ask about my prospects in Worcester with my placement supervisors, that and see if I can dig up some folks to talk about his with who aren’t in the same boat as I am at the moment. I also have a number of tomes I’ve picked up on the history of science. They make a diverting read from some of the other stuff I’ve been trying to get through (Yes, my endurance for reading about PPG16 and other heritage management stuff has waned a bit).

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