Today was all and all a nice day because we actually went to Bede’s world instead of going to class, which was nice because it gave us an opportunity to explore a museum that was dedicated to a Northumbrian monk who wrote a lot of historical texts during the Golden Age of the Northumbrian Kingdom. So, most of the day was spent reading about the life of Bede during the Northumbrian kingdom and then exploring the near replica Anglo Saxon village that was created on the site (most of the buildings were created using the original building techniques, and they were what most of the buildings should have looked like – we can’t be entirely sure since the only archaeological evidence we have was the post holes left behind from the buildings. Plus there were animals that were close breeds to those that might have been alive during the Anglo Saxon time period – including curly haired pigs). Then after Bede’s world we visited the Jarrow church/monastery where bede spent most of his life learning and writing historical texts (the original monastery was no longer there, and only the small part of the church was the original Anglo Saxon church).
The rest of the day went really good because I watched a few minutes of Harry potter the prison of Azkaban with my group before meeting the students from Duke for an open Mic night at the John duck (I didn’t end up singing, but instead got into a very exceptional conversation with David and Aubrey about race, education, prisons, and who we are as people and the kind of people we surround ourselves with – needless to say, the conversation went on for hours).
Today was a relatively uneventful day: I awoke with a sore throat; Class was about the myths surrounding paganism, what paganism actually is, what Christianity is, the growth of Christianity in the early days of Northumbria, the various types of Christianity present within Northumbrian society (namely Irish, British, Roman, and Gualish), and then an analysis of a primary source by Bede that was on the slow Christian conversion of the Northumbrian king Edwin. Then for the second part of class we got to look at the copies of the manuscripts/gospels/really old Christian books – one of which was the size of a small child/75 pounds, and the other cost as much as a car – and they were all really cool since the text and images were all ornate, which is amazing considering the way they were made (calfskin for paper (one book would have taken 515 calves) a carved reed pipe for a pencil (which is hard to create a fine tipped pen out of), and colors that had to be bought elsewhere (like imported from the middle east to the north of England in 700ad).
Then after class our group picked up our student IDs at the university library (so we could get a free tour of the castle, which I took advantage of, but the tour was uneventful since it just provided the history of the castle – In 1066, after William the conqueror conquered all of England he appointed an earl of Northumberia to control the area of north England, but he and a few earls after him were killed by the locals.
So, William the conqueror took many soldiers up to northern England lays waste/killed nearly everyone, but not in Durham because it was an important city since it was right on the border near Scotland. So, in order to defend this region, William Created the position of a prince bishop, which was a secular king and a religious ruler essentially, and created the fortress in 1072. But, the keep at the castle was added in 14th century, and then updated in 1840 to create more student accommodation/have Bedrooms everywhere. The tour then continued into the two chapels at the site (the first was the oldest one in Durham, which also housed a thin escape wall if the castle was ever taken; the second was a Chapel added in 1540, and then expanded later, despite the funding cuts brought about by the dissolution of most churches by king Henry the 8th, because the main priest converted to Anglicanism quickly), a revolutionary architectural feat that is a Free standing staircase (that needed wooden support after 50 years, so it is no longer free standing), and the enormous dining hall (which I had dinner in last week).
After that I went to two pharmacies to purchase cold medicine, but bought some expensive cough drops/spray instead (a very frustrating experience).
And then went to bed by 8 (but didn’t fall asleep until 2am… very frustrating).
The day started with a nice breakfast (I feel like I have these great feasts of several plates of great food). And then I had class where we broke down the myths of the medieval ages (things like king Arthur – who we actually know little about – and st. Patrick – who isn’t Irish, but Romano-British), did a close reading of a piece by Bede and a poem The Ruin, discussed how Roman Britain became a failed state, which provided an opportunity for the Anglos and Saxons to come and take over. Then after class I made sure to go to the cathedral and listen to the organ in the cathedral while doing homework (evensong is at 5:15, and it’s amazing). But after dinner I did more reading before calling it a night since I was exhausted from the London trip weekend.
Woke up at 6:30
Ate breakfast 7:00
Arrived at st Paul’s cathedral at 7:40 for the 8:00 service (an enormous cathedral that is fantastic on the inside)
Arrived back at the accommodation at 9:00
Left with group for Big Ben, parliament (house of commons and house of lords), Westminster Abbey (which had a statue of MLK), seen the Westminster hall, Elizabethan tower, houses of parliament, a statute of Sir Walter Raleigh and king Charles 1.
Walked past Churchill’s bunker (which had its cabinet war rooms under Whitehall – only 10 feet below the hall and concrete wasn’t added until later) and 15th of April, 1912, is apparently an interesting date (the sinking of the Titanic)
Went to the horse guards parade that didn’t take place
Walked to the changing of the guard
Left for the tower of London (and went through Green park, which had its name from King Charles II’s wife who had all of the flowers in the park ripped out when Charles II gave the prettiest girl in the land (another girl in the park, not his wife) a flower)
Ate lunch and bought souvenirs outside the tower (two t-shirts for 10 pounds!)
Entered tower and had an extensive tour by our tour guide (he knew a ton about the tower – too much to blog about) and saw the English crown jewels as well.
Walked back to accommodation for luggage
Left for train at 5:20 Arrived 6:10, saw platform 9 3/4
Left London 7:30
Today started off fantastic simply because I woke up (at 6am) with the knowledge that I was going to London! We Left Durham at 7:34 and took a three hour train ride before Arriving at London kings cross at 10:30am (I napped most of the ride there). We then Met our tour guide (Mr. Tim Hudson, who also acts when he isn’t giving tours) at 11am, who got us oyster cards (cards used to get on the tube) and then brought us to Leicester square (the square where all of the main movies first appear) so we could purchase cheap tickets for an evening show (which I didn’t do, mainly because I thought I was going to Stratford, but I’m not so sure anymore). We then took a walk to Trafalgar square (where a famous battle took place, several great museums are, the Official center of London is, and where a Charles the 1st statue is), and continued walking past the Horse guards parade (a set of mounted guards who guard the entrance to the governing buildings- Buckingham palace mainly- but, the main guards were apparently on holiday, so female guards were on guard on horses instead), 10 downing street (which had a steel gate in front of it because it was put in place in 1989 by Margaret Thatcher, the iron lady), a few government buildings, and the London eye. Then we made our way to the accommodation by entering the tube by big Ben, Checked in and subsequently took forever to regroup (up to this point our group wasted 2 hours because it was hard coordinating 40 people). We then Walked past Tate modern (a current modern art museum that was an old industrial electric facility), Millennium bridge (also known as the wobbly bridge because 100,000 people walked across it in a short period of time because it became famous after it was used in a Harry potter film), globe theater (which was originally on the other side of the river, but it was taken apart, rebuilt, then burned down, then rebuilt way later by an American) before stopping to eat at Borough market for an hour (which was a huge marketplace absolutely full of people). We then back tracked and walked across the millennium bridge in order to see the exterior of st Paul’s cathedral, and entered the tube to go to Piccadilly circus (the first electric square in London), where we went to Tiger Tiger for dinner (an alright three course meal). After this, me and Ercan took a long walk past a few notable sites (namely Buckingham palace, through the park to the Peter pan statue, to Kensington palace, then back to the accommodation).
Today started great! Despite the ominous clouds, it didn’t rain. And then early in the morning, I found a nearly complete crucible and a very large chunk of iron (nothing like starting the day with some awesome finds). The rest of the day brought similar results of a shell, glass, copper, more iron chunks, and some bones (I actually found a jawbone with teeth). But the real excitement happened in Laura’s area right next to me: it first started with a piece of led that was in a chunk of clay, and ended with some excitement right at the end of the day when Laura found the lid of a pot under a rock (it should be noted that I had actually discovered the rock and the cavity with the pot beneath it first, but I had no idea it was a pot – I thought the cavity was a stakehole). So, naturally, she made a big deal out of it thinking it was a complete pot, but the thing is, it was a complete pot with a handle. It was a thrilling ending to a great dig. But it was kinda bitter sweet since it was both our last day, and the last day of the dig as they are stopping digging to analyze the 7 years worth of data. Then once I got back from the dig, showered and ate dinner, most of my group and I met the archaeologists at a pub to celebrate the dig.
Today has been another great day at the dig: I have once again found lots of iron and copper and slag, but I also found a stone lid/base fragment that was really cool. And next to me Laura found small copper fragments that look to be nails and an iron knife. Ash, who was also working next to me found some interesting things because she found a layer of copper surrounded by iron and wood, a copper brooch, a post hole, and the fired clay surrounding of the oven. Then after all of the finds, a camera crew came out to the site and took photos of our group digging (most of us faked working for a bit) And to interview a few of us (I was chosen for the interview and I was asked about why I chose the program, what I was getting out of if, and to essentially say great things about it, which I had no trouble doing). And after the interview I got the chance to show off some copper fragments I had just found.
Then once we got back from the dig and all showered up, our group, and several other summer institute groups went to eat a three course meal in the great hall in the Durham castle, which was absolutely awesome (both the food and the castle). The great thing about the dinner was each person was assigned to a table with people that hadn’t met before, so we all got a chance to meet some of the other participants (and I met some great students from Duke university). And after dinner we all went down to the bar in the castle and enjoyed some terrible English beers (well they were great beer brewed in Newcastle, but I distaste alcohol, so thank goodness Bill bought me the beer).