Last September 2022, My husband Ian and I went on our very-belated honeymoon to Edinburgh and the Orkney Islands. One of the sites that we visited that we were totally in awe of was St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, the largest town on Mainland Orkney. The original cathedral was constructed in the 12th century, when the islands were under Norse rule, and was named for Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney. It was constructed in the Romanesque style with examples of Norman architecture as well, and was built with local red sandstone from Kirkwall and yellow sandstone from the island of Eday (where the memoir ‘Close to Where the Heart Gives Out’ is set. Here is an interview with the author!).
We had the chance to visit the cathedral twice, and I still don’t think we saw everything! There were amazing examples of late and post-medieval funerary sculpture throughout the church, with beautiful memento mori designs throughout. On our second visit, I noticed that some of the ledgers that had been set upright against the walls of the church had coffins as part of the designs, and that not all of the coffin styles were the same. I pulled out my sketchbook and raced around the cathedral as it was about to close, quickly writing down the dates and coffin styles on all the ledgers that had one, to conduct a quick survey on coffin styles depicted in 17th-century Orkney funerary monuments!
I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats, waiting for the site visit portion of my research trip blogs, right? Right?? Well don’t you worry at all, I’ve got all that fieldwork goodness for you here! (is this a weird way to start a research blog? haha)
The second half of my research trip consisted of site visits to three of ‘my’ Dutch settlements that I’m looking at for the landscape analysis portion of my dissertation research. Those sites are the infamous Sleepy Hollow, NY, as well as the town of Kingston, and Albany, NY. You might be familiar with Albany from the Broadway Hamilton, as the city where Philip Schuyler and the Schuyler sisters lived (coincidently we did go see Hamilton live in Boston, and it was amazing, 100/10), and you likely already know a little bit about Sleepy Hollow, so lets get into what I was doing there, and what I’m looking at for these sites!
The PhD research is rolling along, dear reader! It has its ups and downs, and I’m currently both researching some parts while writing others that are further along the research pipeline, and I’m having a pretty good time with it so far! Writing took a pause at the beginning of February so I could take my second research trip to New England and New York State, in order to conduct several site visits of Dutch burial grounds in the Hudson River Valley, as well as the archives in Boston. So far I’ve found some very interesting materials, and would love to share a little about the process with you today!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Edinburgh & the Firth of Forth, from Calton Hill (photo by author 2019)
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. Continue reading →