On Saturday 22nd April 2017 the Henley Business School at Reading University’s Whiteknights campus was home to the Prehistoric Society’s Late Iron Age Oppida conference.
After an early start and a smooth journey, Chris and Lizzy the Apprentice had a very successful day of bookselling, networking, and meeting new customers, along with some familiar faces. Considering it was Lizzy’s first conference, here’s how she got on…
“I found it extremely interesting, especially when we got the chance to dip into some of the lectures. I found out about the specifics of earthworks surveys and how they help to map out the area during digs. It was so fun to meet all the new people, find out their interests and help them to find what they were looking for, whether we had brought it with us or I knew it was on the shelves back home. It was, overall, a really fun day (albeit sometimes a little manic when the bookstall was flooded with people). It was absolutely jam-packed with information, new faces, and new opportunities.”
Chris was very pleased to have spotted numerous notable figures of prehistoric archaeology, including Mike Fulford, Philip Crummy, Richard Bradley, and Sir Barry Cunliffe (who certainly looked happy to see a selection of his books on Danebury and other hillforts selling rapidly). The excellent papers and accomplished company made for a fantastic day, and he can’t wait for the next conference.
Many congratulations to Simon Smith- the winner of our £100 voucher prize draw- from all of us here at Archaeology Plus, and Patter the Office Dog!!
We’d like to thank everyone at The Prehistoric Society and Reading University for accommodating us, and another huge thank you to all the speakers, and of course everyone who bought our books!
As the team are becoming more familiar with the fine details of the books, we thought you deserved to learn some too. So, this week, we’re taking a dive into some of the more scarce finds from our 10,000+ strong collection…
CURZON’S MONASTERIES. In 1849 John Murray of London published the adventures of The Hon. Robert Curzon, under the title ‘Visits to the Monasteries of the Levant’. He started at Constantinople in 1833, as permission was required from the Sultan of Turkey to travel in any of the countries of the Near East, which were all under Turkish rule at that time. Boat wrecks on the Nile, temples and pyramids, Greek monasteries, the wrecks of naval battles – all are commented on in a time just before Queen Victoria came to the throne in Britain and over 20 years before the American Civil War, the Indian Mutiny or the meeting between Stanley and Livingstone in the centre of Africa.
He sketched the places and people he saw and writes about them all in a style that sounds very naïve to our ears nearly 200 years later but which has a real freshness about it. Curzon’s travels ended with drama too – on his return to Constantinople his boat was nearly attacked by pirates!
THE A TO Z OF GEORGIAN LONDON. The London Topographical Society has published a series of volumes called ‘The A to Z of ….. London’ covering the Elizabethan, Restoration, Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods. It is in the same format as the familiar modern ‘A to Z’ maps and it is fascinating to see roads that have stayed largely the same for centuries (like the A5 Edgware Road for example) and others that have come into existence in recent times. Probably the biggest changes happened in the Restoration period (Great Fire of London etc.) and the Victorian period (coming of the railways and the huge expansion of the suburbs and the population). For anyone fascinated by London and its history, or by ancient maps generally, these are ‘must see’ books!
The team at base did their usual great job getting ready for Trac at Durham. The books were chosen and put on a pallet; the signs, change box, invoices and 101 other things assembled…but I forgot to book my own accommodation for the trip…oh panic! NEXT TIME the team will do that too – Lizzie and I have a checklist for travel and accommodation worked out – whew!
The Conference was great – excellent papers, lots of friends and acquaintances there and really good book sales. I have a funny feeling that my longtime friend, amateur archaeologist and bibliophile, John Steer and I are a bit like two thirds of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. In fact I’m sure some people come by the Archaeology Plus bookstand just to see the comedy show as we keep losing things and finding them again.
Thanks to everybody who visited us at the Conference and congratulations to the winner of our Free £100 Prize Draw. Next up is a week digging near Pompeii and hope to see you at the International Medieval Conference at Leeds Uni in early July.
As the new team are still learning the tricks of the trade, we wanted to know more into the history of how this company came about. Both the owners have such different approaches to the topics, so we wanted to dig to get some interesting answers.
Julia’s question was… Why does Prehistory interests you the most and what got you hooked on the topic?
My interest in prehistory is really an abiding curiosity about origins. It always begs more questions for me when I read, for example, that the first humans left the safety of forest life and decided instead to roam the dangerous open savannahs of Africa. Why would they do that? How could a dangerous scavenging type of life lead to brain development? And then the idea of hunter-gatherer versus farmer makes me want to say, how do you know people were one thing or the other, and how do you know that one followed on from the other? Why couldn’t people be doing both, at the same time, according to their environment?
Chris was asked… Why do the Romans interest you the most and what got you hooked on the topic?
Sometime in the late 1950s my parents took me to see the Roman theatre at Verulamium (St Albans). As a bright inquisitive child I was spellbound by the sight of the Roman pillars and the seating tiers rising out of the ground and on the way out, I bought a large rusty Roman nail for 6d (2.5p). After that I was hooked on the Romans and have read avidly about digs and archaeological research for 50 years since, as well as visiting most of the visible Roman remains in Britain and many in France and Germany as well.
We then asked them both to tell us the reasons behind why Archaeology Plus was born…
I am not an archaeologist but I read books on the fringe of archaeology. My current bedtime reading is Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu: black seeds: agriculture or accident?’ A riveting collection of reports from the early settlers in Australia, giving the lie to the popularised story of primitive nomads living in makeshift camps and eating witchetty grubs! It builds a picture of a continent-wide civilisation that developed over thousands of years and included house building, fish farming, grain production and storage, and co-operative management of resources. And it kind of makes you sad that all that could have been destroyed by settlers with an obsession for sheep farming. Julia
I bought books over many years from Castle Bookshop in Llandyssil and when they announced in 2009 that they were selling up, Julia and I agreed to take over the business from them and we launched Archaeology Plus. The last eight years have been a whirlwind of learning the trade, going to conferences, seminars and excavation sites and buying and selling books throughout. We now have a team of 4 staff, full and part-time and are hoping to step back a bit from the day to day running of the company and focus on our personal interests more. Chris