Archaeological stories of the week

chair with cat

A de-cluttered chair

In case anyone lost sleep wondering if I would successfully accomplish last week’s de-cluttering task, here is the chair in question. Needless to say, any empty surface around here immediately gets cluttered up with cats.

On excavating the layers of history from the chair I found I hadn’t exaggerated about the amount of stuff just waiting to be found. From underneath my winter parka and Christmas scarf I unearthed a summer coat, three jackets, two jumpers, three of my son’s T-shirts and two of his shirts, five scarves, three pairs of gloves, two pillows, two towels, the bathroom curtains and a magnetic bracelet thing that was supposed to make me feel better. I think my next effort will be directed at the table behind the chair, but only because I suspect there might be a tin of biscuits hidden underneath everything.

I suppose I should really have started with the ‘other’ big archaeological story of the week, the announcement that the skeleton discovered in a car park in Leicester had been identified as the remains of King Richard III of England. As a  history graduate I found this an extremely exciting story, with its narrative of enthusiasts battling to uncover the truth, and scientists of various kinds working with historians to produce a convincing combination of circumstantial and scientific evidence.  Although not a medieval historian, I have always had an interest in this period because it hovers tantalisingly on the edge of modern times, and of course Richard III’s story is the most tantalising of all because he only got the chance to reign for a couple of years so it’s impossible to tell how he would have turned out in the longer term, and what effect his rule might have had on the way English/British/European history developed. There has been very little reporting of this story in Scotland, but this was actually a pivotal moment in Scottish history too, not only because James IV married Henry VII’s daughter but because of knock-on effects from the activities of Henry VIII on the Reformation in Scotland.

Unfortunately this renewed interest in history on my part has come at a price, part of which is that I now have a time-travel plot to carry about in my head along with the next instalments of Pitkirtly and Quest, which I hope to write during 2013, and the other part is that I have been tempted into arguments on a history forum about topics I don’t know enough about, such as whether Henry VIII was just a jolly, fun-loving king or a murderous megalomaniac. I’m inclining towards the latter but please feel free to contradict me in the comments!

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