Spade & the Grave

death and burial through an archaeological lens


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SHA 2023 Conference, Lisbon, Portugal

It’s time for another travel blog, coming to you live from…my home office where I am writing this very jetlagged, because we got home at 2am yesterday after 27 hrs of travelling! This year, the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) hosted their annual general meeting and conference in Lisbon, and over 900 archaeologists descended on the city to attend the event. This conference was meant to be held in Jan 2021 originally, but for some weird reason that I couldn’t possibly remember, they had to push it forward by two years, and thankfully were able to go ahead with Lisbon 2023 instead! So here we are, drinking vinho verde and talking about archaeology in a gorgeous city of colourful tiles and Moorish castle ruins.

The conference ran from January 4-7, 2023 and was hosted at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. We were able to volunteer as grad students this year to help with registration and monitoring sessions in exchange for not being charged the registration fee for the conference, which is a great initiative that the SHA always has at their conferences. We spent about 8 hrs each (me and my husband, Ian), volunteering over two of the conference days, and attended a load of talks and some events as well! This is going to be a lot of conference stuff, as well as a lot of talking about food and wine, as you do.

Overlooking the city and river from a viewpoint in Alfama, Lisbon (photo by author)
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Holiday Diaries: Vulture City, Arizona

I’ve just returned from a family trip to Arizona, USA! My in-laws recently retired and built a house down there, and this was our first trip down to see the new place, as well as the rest of the family for American Thanksgiving. It was super fun to explore a new spot, and see a load of cacti and interesting animals that we definitely don’t have in Newfoundland (although I still haven’t seen any javelinas…), and of course see all of my husband’s family who we haven’t see since at least 2019 or earlier!

One of the most exciting non-family-visiting parts of the trip was the opportunity to visit the famous Vulture City, tucked in the shadow of the looming Vulture Peak. There is a hiking trail to the top of the mountain, but unfortunately it was closed for maintenance while we were there, so hopefully on a future visit we’ll get a really good view of the site! Vulture City was founded in 1863, after Henry Wickenburg, a Germany immigrant, found gold in a nearby quartz outcrop. Soon after the Vulture Mine was established and the settlement soon followed. You can find out a little more about the history of the community at the link HERE, as well as some amazing historic photos. The mine was in operation from 1863 to 1942, when it closed due to WWII (and actually it’s back in operation today, but that property is not open to the public). There is something deathy in this holiday diary too, so read on!

The restored Assay office building, Vulture City, AZ (photo by author 2022).
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PhD Research Trip: Halifax & Annapolis Royal, NS

Happy November, readers! It’s been a hectic last few weeks in our house, and I think I’ve spent just as much time living out of a suitcase this fall as I have at home… still not unpacking my suitcase. Whoops. Early in October, I travelled to Nova Scotia for a week for my PhD research. I visited the Nova Scotia Archives, the Old Burial Ground, the Nova Scotia Museums offsite storage, and travelled out to Annapolis Royal to visit the Garrison Burying Ground and meet with Parks Canada and Mapannapolis staff in order to discuss the history of the site. It was a really amazing trip, and I got to stay with my dear friends in Dartmouth as well, which is just a research trip bonus!

Lets go!

Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, from the site of the church looking towards the centre of the site over the earthworks (photo by author 2022).
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Conference Trip: Death & Culture IV, York, UK

There is no such thing as a posting schedule when you’re doing your PhD and running a business part time, and writing a book! I do these things to myself, and it’s great! We have just returned from a trip to the UK, where I presented some of my ongoing research at the Death & Culture IV conference, held at the York St. John Campus in the heart of York. York is definitely one of my favourite cities in the UK that I’ve gotten the chance to spend time in, so returning this fall to meet up with friends and talk about research was a huge treat! The rest of the trip was our honeymoon (belated by covid for 2 years, whoops), and I’ll do a separate post about the death-related things we saw on that trip later on! It was a very eventful trip overall, so lets get into it!

The conference, held every 2 years, was put on by the Death & Culture Network (DaCNet) through the University of York, describes itself as promoting “the continuing engagement with the study of death, and acts as a forum for networking and the sharing of multidisciplinary death scholarship”. I presented my ongoing research on the burial grounds of New Perlican, the mapping that has been carried out through our surveys, and what that can tell us about the burial landscape of the community.

View of Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland (photo by author 2022)
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Holiday (/Conference) Diaries: SHA 2020 Boston, MA

Fresh off the airplane from Boston, and back to the blog! This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Society for Historical Archaeology’s (SHA) 2020 Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. It was my first SHA conference, and definitely one of the largest conferences I’ve had the change to attend so far, and it was such a wonderful experience! Of course, we did some touristing while we were in town…and most of the talks I attended had everything to do with colonial burials & settlements!

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Back Bay, Boston MA

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Holiday Diaries: Exploring the History of Body-Snatching, Burial, & Mourning in Edinburgh, Scotland.

If you follow my social media, you might have gathered a few things recently. Firstly, I just got back from a lovely holiday in Scotland where I explored the morbid and macabre as one such as myself is wont to do, and secondly, I got engaged! So that is all very exciting, but because this is a death blog, I’m going to focus on the former for now.

The majority of my trip was based in the city of Edinburgh. The city is famous for being the home of the Royal Family’s Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Castle and the Military Tattoo, and of course…Burke and Hare.

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Edinburgh & the Firth of Forth, from Calton Hill (photo by author 2019)

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The Old Durham Cemetery: Exploring the early 18th-century

For Easter holiday this year, we had the fortune of traveling to Connecticut to visit my partner’s family, eat a lot of chocolate, and (of course) explore some historic burial grounds. Since this was a short trip we only made it to two, and today I’d like to take you on a little tour of the Old Durham Cemetery in Durham, CT, which opened in 1700!

The modern name of the site includes the word ‘cemetery’ but as you may already know, that term wasn’t utilized in North America until the 1830s, so I’ll continue this post referring to it as a ‘burial ground’ unless using the site’s name. xxx20190421_103722 Continue reading