Nine Ladies stone circle near sunset

I’ve been busy recently which a couple of things that will be blogged here sooner or later.

In the mean­time I took an after­noon off a couple of Sundays ago to take some pho­tos with a new lens. It’s for some­thing else I’d like to blog about on pho­to­graphy. There’s been some inter­est­ing stuff writ­ten, but I’m not com­fort­able with the idea that pho­to­graphy can present an object­ive record of a view. It’s not simply that pho­tos can be manip­u­lated, it’s not pos­sible to present a default view.

I’ve also tweaked my Flickr set­tings again. I’d love to be able to release them as BY-SA. At the moment they’re BY-NC-SA, because there’s issues with com­mer­cial rights and prop­erty rights. It’s partly related to the English Heritage rights grab/assertion on pho­tos of Stonehenge. It’d be easy to por­tray them as a greedy quango hold­ing back research, but there are big­ger issues at stake. Which will need another blog post.

In the mean­time my most recent pho­tos are on Flickr.

Nine Ladies stone circle near sunset

Nine Ladies stone circle near sunset

Do we need an Industrial Archaeology?

Cromford Canal

Cromford Canal. Click for lar­ger image.

It’s easy to take a World Heritage Site for gran­ted when it’s on your door­step. I had thought of shoot­ing a short port­fo­lio of Cromford for a com­pet­i­tion. They required ten pho­tos. After look­ing into the pro­ject I’ve decided that the com­pet­i­tion isn’t going to hap­pen for me, but a short photo essay on Cromford, or pos­sibly the Derwent Valley Mills, remains an inter­est­ing idea.

Industrial Archaeology can get short shrift from other archae­olo­gists. Often there’s writ­ten records, plans and for some places oral accounts of work at a site. Is Archaeology neces­sary? Mark Henshaw, the Archaeology Dude, makes a good argu­ment that Archaeology can draw mul­tiple lines of evid­ence to inform his­tor­ies of the past. I wouldn’t dis­count that, and I think his point, Archaeology isn’t just about dig­ging, is very import­ant from an American per­spect­ive because there Archaeology is seen as a branch of Anthropology. In the UK you’re more likely to see Archaeology paired with History or Classics. So do we really need Industrial Archaeologists when there so many Early Modern Historians.

I think another factor Archaeology brings is spa­tial think­ing. Looking at the early days of the pro­fes­sion­al­isa­tion of Archaeology in Britain, one of the fea­tures is an attempt to dis­tin­guish Archaeology from History by tak­ing on ideas of Geography. People like OGS Crawford were keen to emphas­ise that Archaeology stud­ied human activ­it­ies in space as well as time. Again, in the UK, when Processualism was tak­ing off in the USA, the British aca­dem­ics took inspir­a­tion from it, but also from the ‘New’ Geography.

The Manager's House, Cromford.

The Manager’s House, Cromford.

Applying this prac­tic­ally, it’s easy to say what the pos­i­tion­ing of the Factory Manager’s house, oppos­ite the main gate of Arkwright’s Mill at Cromford, means by its loc­a­tion. There are other more subtle ques­tions though. What did draw­ing a second water chan­nel through the Derwent Valley mean for land use and access­ib­il­ity? Why was Willersley Castle, a grand house that Arkwright built for him­self, placed where it was? How did it relate to the church he built? If you want to know why a mill owner would want to build a church for his work­ers then, as Mark Henshaw says, you have to look at his­tor­ical records too.

You can write a his­tory purely from his­tor­ical records and archives, but if you want to exam­ine the human exper­i­ence, espe­cially of humans that weren’t writ­ing much, then an Industrial Archaeology can yield a richer, more four-dimensional exper­i­ence, than Anthropology or History alone.

You’re being quiet”


No, no, no! I’m being extremely noisy, just in a place where you can’t hear — yet. I’ve been asked to par­ti­cip­ate in a blog and we’re doing the ini­tial set-up for it now. There’s a few people involved, so it’s not sched­uled to be live till the end of August. I’d rather not go into detail until the pro­ject is signed-off. However, some of the innov­a­tions there will feed back to here in the autumn, unless some­thing else derails me.

It doesn’t help that I have a new toy. It’s an R72 fil­ter. It blocks the vis­ible spec­trum from enter­ing the cam­era and that makes the view­finder totally black. However, the CCD in the cam­era is also sens­it­ive to infra-red radi­ation. The photo below is my first attempt at get­ting an image out of it.

Water Garden IR

Leicester Botanic Garden in infra-red.

Photo Credits

Croxden Abbey

The west door of Croxden Abbey

I unex­pec­tedly went to Croxden Abbey recently. Until just over a week ago I didn’t even know it exis­ted, but it’s a nice place to go — if it’s sunny — for pho­tos. I’ll blog a bit more about it in the future. Right now I thought to give credit to people on the web who helped me with my pho­to­graphy skills. They used to be awful but now, call me arrog­ant if you like, some­times I think my pho­tos are quite lit­er­ally adequate. I think I messed up the per­spect­ive a bit here, but stand­ing in the right place would have meant tramp­ling someone’s flowers, so this is good enough for me.

The biggest help was Aydin Örstan who gave me a very simple piece of advice: Continue read­ing

Now qualified to talk to lagomorphs about the sky



Creating Collective Identities through Astronomy, a thesis about time and space. Passed by Prof. Giulio Magli (Dipartimento di Matematica, Politecnico di Milano) and Prof. Graham Shipley (School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester). Coming soon to an open access research archive near you. If you live near Leicester.

Update: Lagomorph, the fam­ily of anim­als that includes pikas, hares and pesky wabbits.