Dr Bray came to the department today to talk about his early career at the University of Sheffield archaeology department in the early 1960s and his subsequent work digging and surveying the landscape in Colombia. I knew it was going to be a great talk because we'd had to bring the slide projector out of retirement for him - and I wasn't disappointed. Right off the bat there was an anecdote about his first lecture, on the first archaeology course ever run at Sheffield, how he'd never forget it because on that morning his wife went into labour and they shared the same taxi - with him getting out at the department and her continuing to the hospital. It did teach him early on, he said, that one could give a passable lecture on something, whilst thinking about something completely different.
|Emeritus Professor |
Dr Warwick Bray
At a time when funding for archaeology in the UK is diminishing in a misguided austerity measure, with universities closing departments and students picking university careers based on their money earning potential (who wants to do archaeology when you can do law?) rather than personal interest, it struck me as important to remember how exciting archaeology can be. Sure, there are a few more health and safety concerns these days, but there is still good work to be done - and if we can muster even half the energy and enthusiam of a gentleman like Bray, we'd stand a bit more of a chance of saving it.
PS . I recommend reading this oral-history account of Warwick Brays early career, if you're interested.