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It is with a heavy heart that I have to pass on the news that steps have been taken to cancel the conference ‘Art and the Archaeological Imagination: Braving the Dragons’, which was to have taken place on 27th and 28th February.  All the arrangements have gone really well, but for a reason no-one can yet fathom, the registrations are just not coming through, and so this event cannot continue.

The failure of delegates to register has not been due to lack of publicity.  It may be that February is the wrong time of year, or that the recent bout of cold weather, and the growing unreliability of the trains has prevented people from registering.  Maybe Aberystwyth is the wrong venue, in that it is not as easy to get to as other places in the UK?  I don’t know.

However, dragons are not easily defeated.  Given time, there may yet be a resurgence of interest in art and the archaeological imagination, and the way ahead into unknown territory may suddenly become clear.  In the meantime, my sincere apologies to every one who showed interest.

The conference organiser


Music at the conference dinner

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So pleased that Three Legg’d Mare are going to be playing at the conference dinner on 27th February 2019.

This is an Aberystwyth band who were brought together by a common interest in the traditional songs and tunes of Wales, England and far beyond, and the social history and folklore that lies behind them. They sing old songs of madness, love, death, adventure and everyday life, intertwined with traditional tunes – and some original compositions. With lively and sensitive interpretations, close vocal harmonies and a multitude of instruments, Three Legg’d Mare chart a course through folk history with a passion and verve that’s earning them a growing following throughout Wales and the borders.

What a treat!

Welcome Brian!

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Finding the Future in my Past

Later realising how dependent he was on his childhood experiences of local terrain, painter Brian Graham reveals how a chance encounter, when in his thirties, with an Upper Palaeolithic excavation provided the motivation necessary to make an art that has developed and broadened over many years.



Welcome Mary!

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Archaeology a Singing Language

I first became interested in looking at Archaeology when I was shown cup and ring marks carved on Ilkley Moor four thousand years ago.  I have focused particularly on minority languages which reflect my identity as a Welsh speaker and member of a marginalised culture.  Prehistoric carvings, Ogham, Runes, and the bardic alphabet are used to form a personal vocabulary.

Welcome Julia!

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Julia Sorrell has been working with Orkney as her subject where she combined the landscape and the archaeology. Whether the Ring of Brodgar or Skara Brae, she approaches the subject from an artist’s viewpoint endeavouring to make her work equally accessible to both layman and academic. Archaeology has continued to be an added dimension within her work.

“When painting subjects I spend time studying and talking to the general public as well as doing my interpretation of whatever I am drawing. I am very involved with human interaction approaching many subjects with the central theme being to convey my thoughts and feelings as one human to another through the visual form.”




Welcome Kate!

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It is a delight to welcome prominent British artist Kate Whiteford to the conference.  Along with fellow artists Julia Sorrell, Mary Lloyd Jones and Brian Graham, Kate will be spearheading the conversation about the part that fine art has to play in archaeological enquiry.  She says:

“Over the years I have created a number of land drawings to be seen primarily from the air, and not fully visible at ground level.

I excavate an image related to the site for a limited period of time and the memory of that image is embedded in the site when it is back-filled.”

Her presentation will include a selection of short aerial films.


Music at the Conference Dinner

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Eleri Turner – Harpist


Classically trained at University and the Royal Academy of Music, London, but later changed direction to use the harp in Music Therapy.  Eleri currently works with pre-school autistic children and mothers, and also as a local harp teacher.

“I get a thrill from being asked to participate in a local event on my beautiful 135 year old French Gothic Erard harp.”



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I am thrilled that Professor Michael Shanks is planning to come over from Stanford University to take part in the conference and I look forward to meeting him.

His book ‘The Archaeological Imagination’ has been a real source of pleasure to me, especially as he describes the archaeological imagination as something that ‘recreates the world behind the ruin’, and ‘is a concern for what remains’.

He will be opening up his box of delights for us on Wednesday 27 February at 11am.

Accommodation in Town

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Prefer to stay in the town on Aberystwyth’s seafront rather than in University accommodation?  The Marine Hotel on Marine Terrace is offering a special rate for conference delegates.

Double room with single occupancy – £65 per night

Double or twin room with double occupancy – £85 per night


Contact them on 01970 612444, or email


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Professor Jennifer Wallace’s book ‘Digging the Dirt’ stirred in me a passion to know more about the archaeological imagination when I first read it ten years ago.  It will be a delight to meet her at the conference.  She brings an important perspective from the realms of literature, and as she explains:

“My lecture focuses upon the barrows of the South Downs and Charlotte Smith’s remarkable poem Beachy Head (1807).  Here was the crucible of the Romantic imagination.”

She will be opening the conference on Wednesday 27 February at 11am.