Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]

From Aug 2006 - Nov 2013 WeDig provided a live forum for diggers & fans of Vindolanda. It has now been mothballed and will be maintained as a live archive.

Here you will find preserved 7 years of conversation, photos, & knowledge about a site many people love. Vindolanda gets under the skin. (Figuratively and literally as a volunteer excavator!) It's a place you remember, filled with people you remember!

Thanks for 7 great years!

Viewing Single Post From: Mike's Geoblog
Mike McGuire
[ *  * ]
I promised a final entry in my blog for this year, so here it is at last. It’s a bit delayed because of the time it’s taken us to get our house in Derby straight after we moved back from Haydon Bridge, and the fact that in the middle of it all we escaped the chaos for a brilliant 10-day holiday in Scotland. Steaming across the Sea of the Hebrides into a full gale aboard the Calmac ferry ‘Clansman’ was really exhilarating. When you get to Barra the rocks are so wonderfully old and the beaches are magnificent (first picture). And on a clear evening the view back to the mainland from Point of Eye on Lewis is unsurpassed. If you aren’t already an addict for Scotland’s highlands and islands, please do go there and become one; it’s an addiction which is both legal and harmless.

While on Lewis we took the opportunity to visit again one of Britain’s greatest archaeological treasures – the ancient standing stones of Calanais (as usual in Scots Gaelic, pronounce the final ‘s’ as ‘sh’). They are ancient both in human terms, about 5000 years, and geologically as they were quarried from three billion year old Lewissian Gneiss (second picture). We both – Malise from an archaeological viewpoint and me from a geological – find them much more appealing than Stonehenge. They’re 100 times older than the Sarsens and who knows about the enigmatic, not to say controversial, ‘bluestones’.

The controversy about the transport of the Stonehenge bluestones (did they come from South Wales by human effort or by glacial transport?) is one where geology and archaeology are somewhat at odds. Which is a shame because the two disciplines have so much in common and so much to contribute to each other. After all, both involve that most basic of human instincts, digging things up and making up stories about them. I hope that as the Vindolanda stone sources project progresses I shall be able to provide more evidence of these synergies.

But there is one difference between geology and archaeology which I find both puzzling and disturbing and which you might care to ponder in the long winter nights. There are some opportunities to get a job and make reasonable money as a geologist, especially if you’re helping to locate new sources of the Earth’s mineral wealth. For archaeologists, sadly, the opposite is true; good jobs are as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth because archaeology has no ‘economic value’. And yet the oil, iron, etc, etc to which we give such high monetary value has no intrinsic worth, it’s just a means to the end of improving our lives, whereas the understanding and excitement which comes from uncovering evidence of our past is surely a life-enriching experience in itself. Why do we accord so little value to our quality of life but so much to the purely material means of achieving it? Why, for example, do people spend loadsamoney on petrol to sit in a tin box for hours driving to Vindolanda and then gripe at a few quid to get in?

See you in 2011.
Attached to this post:
Attachments: Beach.jpg (144.06 KB)
Attachments: Calanais.jpg (227.72 KB)
Offline Profile Quote Post
Mike's Geoblog · Excavation & General Archaeology Discussions - Open to All!