And so full of good intentions and mince pies (and shamed by the Blogging Archaeology blog carnival) I am determined to get resume blogging more regularly this year, having achieved a rather pathetic total of three posts on Outlandish Knight in 2013.
I thought I’d start off by supplementing a post I’ve just made on my other personal blog (Vale of the White Horse), which focuses in on archaeology and history of the Vale of the White Horse in occupied North Berkshire. It was a fairly brief post about the Neolithic long-barrow known as Wayland’s Smithy. It reminded me of the 1970s children’s tv series Moon Stallion, which was one of those strange slightly psychedelic/neo-Romantic series that would never get made today – a kind of Wicker Man-lite for the Chegwin generation. It involved the daughter of an archaeologist (naturally) and was set around Wayland’s Smithy and the White Horse, among the protagonists was a Green King and a horse man with a sideline in warlockery. It was all very silly, but had me utterly entranced. It was one of the first things that got me fascinated by the Downs. Although I’ve had a passion for the chalk downland of Wessex ever since, it was this small area of the Berkshire Downs that really got under my skin. As I sit here I have a small watercolour of the White Horse on the wall, and every time I get back south we try and head up to the Horse. Indeed, this Christmas saw us up on Dragon Hill, with the children forging ahead and leading the charge up the Horse. It gives me immense personal satisfaction that they love it too. My passion for the area has received further spurs- after I graduated one of my first jobs in commercial archaeology was digging with Oxford Archaeology up at Tower Hill – big rain-washed landscapes, grooved ware pits, solid chalk just inches below top soil making excavation a piece of piss and a tiny site hut in the middle of a large field. One of my first published pieces of archaeology was a fairly half-arse critique of the Maddle Farm Survey. It’s a landscape I’ve been going to and from physically and mentally for nearly two decades now. Although I live at a distance, I still want my ashes scattered from the White Horse.