Looking back at recent posts, it seems to have become standard procedure for me to kick things off with a whinge or at least on a negative tone. Not today. The past few weeks have been some of the most rewarding and exciting of my life as a medievalist, leaving me full of the joys of Spring (and even some mild hayfever).
So why so good? Still fresh in my mind is a talk I gave to the Puttenham and Wanborough History Society the Friday just gone, on the place-names and field-names of Puttenham parish. I had a blast (despite the last-minute sweat to complete the accompanying handouts) and got to say pretty much all I wanted to, not just on the names but on the agricultural and historical contexts in which they were first applied. A little bit of tidying and referencing and the handout will be good and ready to upload under the Puttenham tab.
It’s been the steady stream of good little things that has made recent times so satisfying. Rewarding exchanges with interesting people face-to-face (great to meet you again, Prof Chris Dyer) or via email (take a bow, Kristine Hunt). Reconnecting with contemporary geographical theory through involvement in the University of Nottingham’s Landscape, Space and Place reading group (which has/had a blog, but I can’t find it). Finally getting to see the grave goods from the “Prittlewell Prince” burial in Southend’s brilliant Central Museum (making up for not seeing that part of the Staffordshire Hoard on display in Birmingham when I was in the city for a weekend). Half an hour spent walking around the historic centre of Taunton ahead of catching a bus to the edge of Exmoor. Working out a new model of early medieval pig transhumance into and out of the Surrey Weald. And a whole heap of bits and bobs in between.
It was also a time when a few things fell into place for biggish things happening in the coming weeks and months. Between now and July, I’ll be involved in the organisation and running of the Nottingham Institute of Medieval Research Postgraduate Conference. As and when the CFP is finished I’ll upload it here, as it’s an event that will be worth attending in some capacity and is on a wide-reaching subject area that can be made to apply to pretty much any part of medieval studies. Currently, I’m pencilled in to chair a session (eep!) so chances are I won’t be giving a paper there, but I will be speaking at another conference in a few weeks time (more about this once it’s confirmed) which I’m really rather excited about.
As if that’s not enough (and I’m starting to think it might be), I have been given the honour of editing our degree “yearbook”. I hope the end product will be halfway between a journal and a fanzine, really fresh in content and appearance, and certainly won’t be lacking in diversity of subject matter given the research interests of my peers and prospective contributors. Again, as and when we’re a little further down the road with laying the foundations for the project (such as confirming its title) I’ll expand upon its aims and themes in a post. Just don’t mention the word dissertation…
Surrey Medieval posts may have been a little thin on the ground of late, but I did manage to write one new page for the site in the past month. Its subject matter is a twist on something I haven’t looked at for a couple of years, the area of the “Surrey Fens” causeways, in this case the Newark Priory island’s former identity as Aldebury, a name redolent of a lost Anglo-Saxon stronghold. It was inspired by two things: a Landscape, Space and Place seminar on islands and riverine/maritime environments as liminal places, and Richard Savage’s report to the Surrey Archaeological Society’s Villages Study Group meeting at the Surrey History Centre rounding up the latest research on Old Woking. The piece doesn’t provide any definite answers and elements of it have actually been overtaken by thoughts and reading from subsequent to the time of writing. Still, I put a lot of effort into it and is worth a minute or five of your time. Go on, give it a whirl.