Friday Links: What’s happened in Historical Archaeology

This week’s photo of the month was provided by Mark Kostro of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. For ten weeks this summer, students enrolled in the annual Colonial Williamsburg / College of William and Mary field school in historical archaeology searched for evidence of the 18th-century Bray School, an institution dedicated to the education of free and enslaved African American children.  Between 1760 and 1765, the Bray School was housed within a wood frame dwelling house (a.k.a. Dudley Digges House) located two short blocks north of campus.  Probably constructed in the mid-eighteenth century, the Digges House survived, although substantially altered, at this location until 1930 when it was moved to make way for the construction of a new residence hall.  Among this summer’s discoveries was an eighteenth-century brick-lined well, a late eighteenth-century earthfast building located in what would have been the rear yard of the Digges House, and numerous artifacts not only from the Bray School period, but also from the various occupants of the lot before and after the Bray School was located there.  Co-directing the archaeological fieldwork is Mark Kostro of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Dr. Neil Norman of the College of William and Mary.  The Bray School Archaeological Project is one of the topics being investigated by the Lemon Project, an ongoing scholarly initiative at William & Mary focused on the 300-year relationship between African Americans and the College.

You can learn more about the excavations and see additional photographs at the Colonial Williamsburg Archaeology Facebook page.

Also, we are pleased to announce that Poplar Forest has launched a social media campaign: you can now read their new blog, become a fan of their Facebook Page, and follow them on Twitter!

This Week’s Links

The SHA lost one of our finest leaders: Roderick Sprague passed away this week. Dr. Sprague served as president of our society for two terms, in addition to winning the J.C. Harrington Medial in 1996 and the Carol Ruppe Service Award in 2004.

Paul Mullins, on his blog Archaeology and Material Culture, discusses the archaeology and politics of Ruin Porn.

The South Central Historical Archaeology Conference has a call for papers out for their conference at the University of South Alabama.

Bernard Means writes up a review of the THATCamp in Computational Archaeology that was held a few weeks ago at the University of Virginia.

Craig Lukezic writes a post about the search for Delaware’s 17th Century Fort Casimir.

Read this piece by George Miller and Robert Hunter at “How Creamware Got the Blues: The Origins of China Glaze and Pearlware”

Archaeologists at William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research have found Civil War encampments on the college’s property.

Do you have any links that you’d like us to share? Please send them are way by posting them on our Facebook wall or mentioning @SHA_Org in a tweet!

SHA 2013: Opportunities for volunteering and floorspace

The costs of attending an international conference can add up. Happily, the SHA 2013 conference committee in Leicester has information about two ways in which you could save some money, and get to know other archaeologists.

Volunteers are essential to the smooth operation of an SHA conference. By assisting with a variety of duties – from registration and Book Room set-up to the special events and the sessions themselves – volunteers are a key component of every conference.

The SHA is looking for volunteers to give eight hours of their time during the SHA Conference in exchange for free conference registration. Student attendees will be given priority for volunteer positions, but if you are not a student and would like to volunteer, please do get in touch anyway.

For further information please contact the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sarah Newstead ( Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until December 14, 2012. A limited number of volunteer openings are available, so don’t delay!

If you looking to save some more money, the Leicester conference committee has also set up a Facebook page for those who can offer free floorspace in their home to student delegates, and those who would like to split the cost of their hotel room by sharing with another delegate. Do keep checking the page for offers of accommodation, or consider advertising for a room-mate of your own!

SHA 2013: Coming and Going

Planning for SHA 2013 in January continues here in Leicester. Conference registration opens at the beginning of October, and information about how you can help by volunteering at the conference will be available soon.

In the meantime – don’t forget to arrange your travel to Leicester! The conference team has put together this guide to travelling to the city and we have now arranged a special deal with East Midlands Trains, who operate trains between London St Pancras and Leicester. Advance return travel between the two cities will be available from £27 standard class, and £42 first class for travel during the conference; a significant saving on the cost of train tickets purchased at the station on the day. Train fares will increase from 1st January 2013, so make your booking before this date to get the lowest fares. You can find out more about how to take advantage of this deal by downloading this document.

An express train leaving London St Pancras for Leicester in 1957. Modern engines and rolling stock are used now; sorry about that.

London St Pancras is something of a visitor destination in itself. The station opened in 1868 as the southern terminus of the Midland Railway, which ran services between London, the East Midlands, and Yorkshire. The train shed was designed by the Midland Railway’s own engineer, William Barlow, and with an arch span of 240 feet, over 100 feet high at its apex, the train shed roof was the largest single-span roof in the world.

The station facade was completed with the construction of the gothic Midland Grand Hotel, which opened in 1873 and was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The hotel was a pioneering building at the time, ornately decorated and boasting hydraulic lifts, fireproof concrete floors, revolving doors and a fireplace in each of the 300 bedrooms.

The Midland Grand Hotel

By the 1930s, the hotel had become outdated and the building was used for railway company offices. After the Second World War, the station too was deemed to be outmoded, and during the 1960s it was proposed that the station should be closed, and demolished along with the hotel. This caused uproar among the growing conservationist movement; the neighbouring Euston Station had been demolished in 1961-2, amid much public outcry. The poet Sir John Betjeman spearheaded a campaign to protect the station, and in 1967 St Pancras station and the former hotel were listed Grade I, protecting the complex from demolition.

The statue of Sir John Betjeman and the restored train shed roof at St Pancras

In 1996 St Pancras was selected as the location for the permanent terminus for the Eurostar trains travelling through the Channel Tunnel to continental Europe, and a long programme of reconstruction and restoration work began; the station fully re-opened in 2007, and the restored Midland Grand Hotel followed in 2011.

So if your journey to Leicester involves taking a train from St Pancras, do stop to take a look around.

Image 1 by Ben Brooksbank via Wiki Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image 2 via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Image 3 via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)