Posts Tagged ‘England’

I love history. Not the memorization of dates and tests and such, but that moment where you realize in a sudden, visceral way that the past isn’t ever really gone. That the present is built on its bones.

I also like the idea of uncovering that past, either via literal bones or the items that people leave behind. Gold is nice and all (not least because it lasts) but I have a soft spot for the ordinary. What was once worthless, like a broken pot, a used envelope, translucent blue glass jar or a single button, becomes a window into the everyday.

A window in time, if you will.

From museums to restored footage to dragon bones (ok, not exactly but still) and virtual reconstructions, there are a lot of ways to see the past.

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I tend to prefer the more tactile alternatives. 

My mother used to take us out to a friend’s cabin in the woods. In winter we helped her gather sap for maple syrup, but in summer my brother and I would head to the stream at the base of the hill. The water had cut a small cliff into the shale, and if we were lucky and good we could find fossils. 

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Here are two examples of hands-on history I think would be fun to experience.

The fossil hunters of the Jurassic Coast

… with the West Dorset cliffs eroding at such a rapid rate, scientists alone could never hope to save even a fraction of the fossils emerging onto the beaches before they’re swept away by the waves. This has left amateur collectors as key partners in the fight to preserve the area’s extraordinary fossil bounty for study and display, and has, over the past two decades, fuelled a huge rise in the number of people visiting the local beaches in search of prehistoric treasures.

How to Mudlark

… the majority of the things salvaged from the mud are more recent—often medieval or later—and are small, humble reminders of what people used, maybe loved, and eventually discarded. Exploring the shore as a mudlark is like conducting a swift, simple, satisfying archaeological dig, with almost no digging at all.

More fun for the future!

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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