New Year always brings a wave of optimism for me, and I like turning the corner at the end of December ready to face a new leg of the journey - where anything is possible. There is something cathartic for me in placing 2012 in the archives box. The Past in Mind project which took off in 2012 continues to be a real treasure, and it will be featured on display later this year at the National Trust’s Brockhampton Estate.
But the latter part of 2012 became a personal struggle and there were times when I honestly thought I would never find a way out of the darkness. During this period I lost the ability to write. I literally shut down and became lost in a very frightening world. But the pit I fell into wasn’t bottomless, for with help from friends and professionals I managed to cling on to a ledge and prevent myself from sinking out of reach. I am now slowly climbing out into the open again, and glad to be alive. January 2013 has brought me some clarity and some hope. It has been therapeutic surveying the bleak despairing weeks of late 2012 and sending many aspects to the archives. Having regained possession of trowel and spade, I am ready to discover what lies ahead. I have been given another chance, which is why I genuinely mean; “Happy New Year everyone”.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Symposium on December 8th 2012. This was an important moment for the Past in Mind project. The Symposium is an annual day-long event in Hereford where all the County’s archaeological projects are shared with the public. Archaeological finds, progress and academic interpretations are all aired with lively question and answer sessions throughout the day.
Past in Mind was given a platform during the Symposium. Obviously our project aims to make an academic contribution particularly in relation to (so-called) Deserted Medieval Villages, of which there is comparatively little knowledge nationally. But Past in Mind also has a historical research strand, so the project brings together the two disciplines of history and archaeology. Pushing further boundaries, Past in Mind is interwoven with mental health recovery and the individual odysseys of all the Community volunteers whatever their background or experience. At times it has been challenging finding the right balance between the many strands linking the Past in Mind project, but it has always been our aim to promote inclusion and reduce some of the stigma that people with mental health troubles face in everyday Society. This has been the underlying current running through our project and it is what makes this project very special to us.
From what I understand the Past in Mind Project caught the attention of the audience, many of whom were amateur or professional archaeologists. The presentation was given by Jenny, Ian, Kate and the volunteers – all of whom were on the stage. This clear demonstration of inclusion is the essence of the Past in Mind project, and it also makes it evident how archaeology, history and mental health are entwined. It is heartening to know that many people would have gone away and given some thought to the concept of archaeology/history and mental health recovery linking together in a really positive way.
One other significant event in December 2012 was the broadcasting of live conversations recorded during the excavation last Summer, on Radio 4’s “All in the Mind” programme hosted by Claudia Hammond. This audio snapshot really captures the magic of Past in Mind:
The Past in Mind project has funding for a few more months. As mentioned earlier, we will be working towards creating a display which will be housed in the Brockhampton Estate later this year. We also have more historical research to do so that we can increase our understanding of some of the people who once lived in Studmarsh.
Please check the blog for updates as our programme of Events will be posted on here shortly.
WE WISH ALL OUR READERS A VERY HAPPY AND PEACEFUL 2013