Backfilling The Blog



Book Launch 2014 8

On May 10th 2014 around 100 people gathered to celebrate the Past In Mind project and the launch of Kate Lack’s fascinating book: Past In Mind: A Heritage Project and Mental Health Recovery.

Whitbourne Village Hall was buzzing with excitement and anticipation as faces old and new filled up the room.

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Dash at book launchDash, my new guide dog, greeted people with his usual enthusiasm and helped everyone to feel at ease.

Book Launch 2014

It was very heartwarming to meet up with people we hadn’t seen since last year, and to hear their news.  Past In Mind became a very close-knit group and we all believed in the project so much that it has left a definite imprint on each of us.

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After some luxurious refreshments there were a few short presentations from a cross-section of people involved with the project.  True to the ethos of Past In Mind this included some thoughts from volunteers such as Chris, Mark, Malcolm and myself.

The book signings came next, and for many of us this meant exchanging autographs – a bit like at the end of your schooldays when you’re about to set off on new, personal adventures.

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It seems almost trivial to sum up the events of the afternoon, because what I really want to convey in this post is the electric atmosphere that purveyed the room.  There was an excitement tinged with sadness as this era of Past In Mind was about to draw to a close.  But rather than a full stop at the end of the line, there was and still is a bold question mark.  What?  Why?  Where?  Who?  When?  This particular project may have come to an end, but its spirit will never die.


Blog from the Bog started out as an experiment to capture snapshots of Past In Mind.  It morphed into a launchpad for ideas and a voice for volunteers and professionals.  It served as a notice board and reference.  It uncovered layers of Past In Mind and delved beneath the surface.  It yielded unexpected finds.  Now the time has come for the backfilling of the Blog.  This is not to say that Blog from the Bog will never re-emerge, but its current purpose has been fulfilled.  Just as we filled in the layers of soil after the excavation at Studmarsh, I need to fill in the layers of the Blog in order to leave it ready for another day.

Needless to say, writing this is making me very emotional.


Book Launch 2014 6I cannot finish this post without saying a heartfelt thank you to all my fellow volunteers, and to Kate, Ian, Chris and Dai for teaching me so much about myself and the world around me.  But most of all I want to thank Jenny who has surfed the waves of Past In Mind and risked drowning once or twice, but always managed to stay afloat in order to glimpse the next sunrise.


Finally, no backfilling would be complete without mentioning Fran, who loved the project and the Studmarsh field in 2012.  RIP Fran.

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Kate’s book (author name, Katherine Lack) is priced at £5.95 and is available from Amazon:






PIMhd20                                                                                                                                         Happy New Year everyone!  I’m very pleased to be back in the blogosphere after what seems like a decade of lying low. 

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.


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The Notice Board: For Volunteers

Past in Mind Archaeological Excavation Project

Volunteer Joining Instructions

Practical details

Please note that the digging aspects of the work will obviously include a degree of physical labour, but the project is not an endurance test (!), and you will be able to take your own time, and participate as you feel able.  Other tasks – such as recording, drawing, finds recording and cleaning – also give a range of less physical (but extremely important) opportunities to get involved in the project.

It should also be noted that The Studmarsh/Grove site is in a remote location on the eastern edge of the Brockhampton Estate (adjacent to Bringsty Common). It is in an area of pasture grazed by cattle, and is spread over about 5 acres across a small valley with boggy areas and rough ground.  Accessing the excavation areas will involve walking over this terrain and we will be working outdoors in a countryside context with no formal facilities on or close to the site.

Working day: The working day will be 9.00 am to 4.30 pm with tea, coffee and lunch break (and, obviously, participants will be free to take a break at other times if they feel the need)

Facilities: Male and Female Portaloos will be available immediately adjacent to the site, and there will be a communal tent to give cover in the event of bad weather, and to provide a retreat for lunchtimes etc.

Health and Safety:  A full Risk Assessment has been completed for the project, and participants will receive a copy of the assessment and be fully briefed on Health and Safety provisions and responsibilities (and will be required to comply with identified health and safety procedures).  A First Aider (Chris Atkinson) will be present on site, a First Aid Kit will be provided and identified, a vehicle will be near to the site at all times, and site staff will have operable mobile ‘phones. 

What you will need

  • Outdoor clothing/stout footwear  (walking boots, warm clothing, waterproofs, all essential to comply with identified Health and Safety arrangements). Please bring a kneeing mat (a garden one is good) or similar)
  • Packed lunch and drink for the day

Joining the project

You are potentially welcome to come along for one or more days, but we need to know in advance who is planning to attend on any given day. To book please contact Jenny McMillan (Past in Mind Manager):, tel 07812370553.Our blog

Travel to the site and parking

Minibus transport from Hereford and Leominster:  Minibus transport from Hereford (Heffernan House, Widemarsh Street) and Leominster (Coop/bus- station carpark) will be available on some days during the project. Please contact Jenny McMillan (contact details above) to confirm the availability of this service and to book a place. 

Making your own way: Parking on site is restricted and conditions are not suitable for ordinary cars with muddy/boggy areas and the presence of cattle. Participants making their own way should therefore park in the layby immediately off the A44 next to the ‘Live and Let Live’ pub sign on Bringsty Common and take a 10 minute walk to the site from there (see attached maps for detailed parking/site location information).  Please arrive on site by 9.00 am.