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Spitalfields II

July 21, 2017

So, back to Spitalfields. As I completely failed to inform you last time, Spitalfields and Shoreditich are in the East End of London. This is a contentious area, everyone seems to have varying ideas on where exactly the East End begins. However, no-one seems to be in any doubt that Spitalfields (and Shoreditch) are part of the East End so without further ado let’s say – I was in the East End of London. It’s not an area where I’ve spent much time, my sister lived in East Ham for a while but that’s not always counted as the East End (see previous link), so my knowledge of Cockney London is limited. I know it by reputation (more on this below), by my student addiction to EastEnders, and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. With the authority of someone who spent whole hours there, I would say the area around the market is far more Monica Ali than soap opera-ish or East End wide boys/gangsters, and now with added hipsterism. But, I hear you ask, what did you actually do in Spitalfields apart from make infantile comments in a church and eat Greek food in Spitalfields Market? What is the purpose of this post? Lets look first at what we did, not because I’m hoping I come up with an objective before the end of this post, dear me, no. There is always a plan. Always.

Aside from looking around Hawksmoor’s Church we walked down Fournier Street. As I mentioned, this street was built in the 1720s and originally known as Church Street before being named after a Huguenot – George Fournier. Although the houses are the original ones built as part of the Wood-Michell Estate

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Figure 40: The Wood-Michell estate, lay-out plan. Based on the Ordnance Survey 1873–5 A. Sold to ‘Fifty Churches’ Commissioner, 1713 B. Sold to Anne Fowle by 1714/15 C. Acquirtd by Simon Michell. 1728 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol27/pp178-184

And in many ways look as they did 300 years ago

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‘Street elevations: Fournier Street and Christ Church’, in Survey of London: Volume 27, Spitalfields and Mile End New Town, ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1957), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol27/fournier-street [accessed 10 July 2017].

23_Fournier_Street,_London

By Russianhouse – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18402093

There have, unsurprisingly, been many changes over those centuries – Spitalfields has gone up and down-market several times, the dominant religion of the area has changed from the Calvinism of the Huguenot weavers fleeing France* and their persecution under Louis XIV, to Catholicism with the influx of Irish weavers drawn by the prospect of well-paid work (and during the famine any work or pay), then Judaism as Eastern European Jews fled the Pogroms** and settled in the East End of London, before becoming Muslim with the arrival of the Bengali community. The 1922 map at the top of the page shows a synagogue at the end of Fournier Street, originally this was a Huguenot Chapel, then a Methodist Church, it was the Maz’ik Adath Synagogue and since 1976 it’s been a mosque – The Brick Lane Jamme Masjid. There are lots of maps of the area here showing the changes from rural Spitalfields to inner city East End.

But it’s not just the religion that has changed. The character of Fournier Street has changed dramatically over the centuries too, reflecting the more general changes within much of the East End. When the houses were built they were seen as comfortable, elegant homes for the wealthy Huguenot weavers and merchants – although they must always have been within earshot of the old Spitalfields Market and while this wouldn’t have been as unpleasant as the meat market at Smithfield or the fish market at Billingsgate it wouldn’t have been peaceful or fragrant. Although intended for domestic use, the Huguenot inhabitants set up looms within the buildings, there’s the explanation for those windowed top floors, and the ground floors were used as show rooms.  With the influx of Irish workers in the mid nineteenth century tensions between the two groups occasionally erupted but they also joined together to form early trade unions.

As the silk industry declined the houses became more densely populated and were increasingly sub-divided into ‘multiple dwelling occupancies’ – or slums if you want to be honest. The East End was where many immigrants ended up, particularly the poor and needy, those with nowhere else to go, which is why the area became populated by the Ashkenazi Jews. Much has been written about the poverty, the over crowding, the epidemics, violence and misery of the East End, from Jack the Ripper to the Krays, from Dickens and Mayhew to the urban regeneration policies of the 1980s – do a quick search on Google and you will get any number of ‘poor but honest, you could leave your door open, salt of the earth’ or ‘always good to his Mum even if he did kill people’ memoirs and books with the titles in big gold letters, as well as a fair amount of anthropology and political history. What is less discussed is how the connection with the clothing industry has continued, but over the years it became a much more down-market version, with cheap semi-skilled and unskilled labour, sweatshops, and small tailoring shops predominating.

The sweated labour conditions were so appalling that in 1912 many of the workers went on strike, largely due to agitation by Rudolf Rocker, all their demands were met but even after they returned to work socialism continued to flourish (yay!) and the Jewish East Enders assisted the dockers who struck later that year.

This joining together of Irish and Jewish culminated in the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 and of course Cable Street is only a kilometre, at the most, from Fournier Street, it’s extremely likely that some of Fournier Street’s inhabitants were involved in the anti-Fascist march

Battle-of-Cable-Street-red-plaque

By Richard Allen – User created, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=853448

In the Second World War the East End was targeted by bombers  the docks and warehouses were the centre for imports as well as the storage of materials for the war effort, and it was felt by the German military command that targeting working class areas would undermine morale and support for the war. According to WikipediaIt is estimated that by the end of the war, 80 tons of bombs had fallen on the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green alone, affecting 21,700 houses, destroying 2,233 and making a further 893 uninhabitable. . . For the whole of Tower Hamlets, a total of 2,221 civilians were killed, and 7,472 were injured, with 46,482 houses destroyed and 47,574 damaged‘. Although Fournier Street wasn’t itself hit, the inhabitants suffered from the chaos as services were disrupted, local businesses were destroyed and many friends and relatives will have been killed.

The East End has a reputation for violence and crime. There is a, possibly apocryphal, tale that British Museum workers visiting the stores in Hoxton had to be provided with a shuttle service to keep them safe. Anecdotes aside, there is plenty of evidence of organised (and disorganised) crime in the East End, mix together poverty, deprivation, drugs and alcohol and it’s not going to end well. Again, Googling crime and the East End is going to get you a lot of sites many about the Ratcliffe Highway Murders, the London Burkers, Jack the Ripper and the Krays. David Hunt’s activities suggest that for all the gentrification taking place, for all the East End’s new hip and happening reputation, it’s still a place where violence incubates even if that violence takes place elsewhere.

Therefore, it’s unsurprising that people move on when they can. As time passed many of the Jewish inhabitants made enough money to move out to Golders Green, Hendon and Essex, especially Southend and Westcliff on Sea (there’s an 1897 article about the Essex migration here, but it is horribly and casually anti-Semitic). Inexorably Fournier Street became less and less Jewish and increasingly Bangladeshi.

Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, with an upsurge in the 1970s when British immigration laws changed, many Bangladeshis came to Britain and, regardless of their education and skills, ended up working in factories and particularly the textile industry. Again these migrants faced racial hatred as well as impoverished and cramped living and working conditions. Things, I’m glad to say, have improved since then (even if in my darkest moments I feel Britain is going backwards)

Spitalfields is still Banglatown but these days you’re as likely to find hipsters shopping for vintage clothing as Bangladeshis shopping for saris or salwar kameez. Because Spitalfields, and especially Fournier Street, is on its way back up the social desirability ladder. While the Whitechapel Gallery has been an important exhibition space for local artists since 1901, it’s taken longer for the rest of the art world to catch up. Gilbert & George moved to Fournier Street in 1968 and have been there ever since, the second incarnation of White Cube was in Hoxton and some of the Young British Artists who exhibited there moved into the area. Tracey Emin also lives on Fournier Street, leading a shift in perception of the East End from dangerous and dodgy to grunge and ‘authentic’.

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Gilbert & George on Fournier Street. Copyright Jooney Woodward https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/15/t-magazine/london-spitalfields-gilbert-george.html

Keira Knightly, briefly, lived on Fournier Street, others like Gilbert & George have been there for decades. The Town House, formerly the Market Cafe, is now according to The Women’s Room blog: part museum, part gallery, part guesthouse and part shop, selling antique furniture and upholstery alongside a mix of local sourced artifacts and objects. In the basement there’s a kitchen area selling old china, glasses, serving dishes, colourful modern pottery and coffee and cake. The owner is a long term resident of the area. Similarly, Jeanette Winterson*** has lived in Fournier Street since 1990. Her house, like Gilbert & George’s, was derelict when she bought it. The building had originally been a shop and in keeping with this tradition she opened Verde & Co in 2005 and despite threatening to close it with the recent rise in business rates it was still there a month ago. Dan Cruikshank lives nearby, if not actually on Fournier Street, in an eighteenth century town house which he strives to keep as close to the original as possible, unsurprisingly he’s a founding member of the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust.

Spitalfields is part of the East End regeneration, and in many ways Fournier Street now is how it was when it was originally built – the inhabitants are monied, cultured, caring or even curating their homes. There is a deep awareness of the past, not just inside these private homes or The Town House, but more generally – in the window of a house we passed someone had displayed a tableau of how the room would once have looked:

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Excuse the shocking photo – I haven’t been able to find something better from the internet.

and some photographs

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The blue plaque commemorating Miriam Moses

 

All of which give an idea of Fournier Street how it once was, but it’s not a museum piece, it’s a living thriving street, nor – as can be seen by the window display and plaque – is it only one period in time that’s being held on to. All of the past is there, good and bad, and this is really what this (over long) post is about. If I was feeling clever enough I’d link it in with Daniel Miller‘s or Victor Buchli’s work although my main debt is to Tim Ingold’s  ideas about the temporality of landscape – because it’s all here in Fournier Street. Past, present, future intertwined. A street about which I knew nothing before this trip to London, yet this street encapsulates all the histories of the East End and that history has left traces everywhere you look from the eighteenth century architecture to the changing denomination of the religious buildings to the the ebb and flow of money in this area. Fournier Street may seem cut off from the violence and crime of the East End, but the Ten Bells pub on the corner is associated with 2 of Jack the Ripper’s victims and so it goes on.

As indeed have I, so I’ll stop here having had a great time putting together this post, if anyone’s still reading I hope you enjoyed it too. There probably won’t be a post next week, the ‘holidays’ start today and we’re off to London next week – I should warn you I’m planning on taking the 11 year old to the Crossrail exhibition at the Museum of London and before I go I’ll be watching The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway so expect a lengthy post all about that.

Until then have fun, go and look at maps of the East End or read about the archaeology or crime or silk weavers – whatever takes your fancy!

Julia

I really do have to work out how to do footnotes.

*I studied the Huguenots as part of my A level history course, something I’d forgotten until I looked up the Edict of Fontainebleu – good to know it’s finally come in useful. No knowledge is wasted!

**This is when my great-grandfather left Lithuania and settled in London – South not East – before becoming a gardener in Kent.

***Coincidentally I’d finished reading Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal the evening before. Excellent memoir, I highly recommend it despite this damning review – got to think there’s personal scores being settled there.

 

 

This week

July 14, 2017

 

I’m recommending that you stop reading the HARN blog and instead go here  to Archaeowomen instead.

Although Anne only has a few posts on so far, what there is is really interesting and a significant piece of archaeological history. BWA began in 2008, it’s now 2017 and it’s interesting to see how things have (or haven’t) changed. Also, what about other places? How does the British experience compare to other archaeologies?

Her two posts about Sally Binford’s remark ‘I’m not here to cook – I’m here to dig’ (here and here) are – for me – particularly interesting. My initial reaction was to smile – archaeologists are the worst gossips, they love to know who’s dating whom; but I also smiled because of the questions the public ask too –  I remember Rick being asked by an aristocratic member of the public if he was the foreman. Who knew anyone still had foremen? Poor Rick looked so stunned, but explained that no, he was in fact the director.

But there’s a less comfortable side to it too, most of the excavations I have been on have been with Rick. We did dig as a team. Also – as will be obvious from the final paragraph of ‘I’m not here to cook – I’m here to dig!’ Part Two – often I was on these excavations as the cook, so that phrase does hit home. Right from the beginning of cooking on digs I felt guilty that I was betraying my feminism*, that by being a woman performing what was traditionally a woman’s role I was undermining all the other women archaeologists. Well, obviously not all, I’m not quite that egotistical! But, it did make me uncomfortable Especially since my reasons for doing it were hardly exemplary – the previous year we’d been on a student excavation where the food had been inedible and having said we could do better I found I was having to, plus it was a way to get paid and I was an undergraduate.  I discovered, to my great surprise, that I was good at it and I enjoyed it so for many years that’s what I’d do every summer: Rick would dig and I would cook. It is where I met Anne and many other wonderful people who became friends.

(*Yes, I do know that feminism is the freedom for women to be what they want, and I knew it then, but it still felt that way)

So, why am I no longer a cooking archaeologist? There are several reasons: because of all the things a cook has to do as well as cook, all the pastoral stuff. I got old and tired and found the students (and staff) irritating rather than endearing, their problems and issues became a chore and I didn’t like feeling that way about other people. Particularly not people who you I had to live with 24/7 for however long the dig lasted. I began to feel like this should be part of the work of the director rather than defaulting to the cook. Other life got in the way, it’s difficult to parent (and care for parents) when you’re many miles away living in a field, these days neither Rick nor I work away for any length of time. That’s our personal decision not a universal moral view by the way. All power to parents who do work away through choice. Additionally, my research wasn’t dependent on excavation so digging and cooking became more of a holiday than work related and these days the ‘holidays’ involve doing child friendly things and we’ve trained our children so badly they’d revolt rather than come on an excavation with us. But mainly because I was never entirely sure of where I stood in a dig’s hierarchy, everyone I ever worked for and with treated me with respect, but it was, inevitably, respect for my culinary and organisational abilities rather than my archaeological ones. I always felt I was having to fight to be an archaeologist as well as the cook which is why I always insisted on getting onto site as often as I could, just to remind everyone that I was also a field archaeologist – these days I suspect that was more my insecurity than a true reflection of their thinking, but it was certainly a factor. And then there was that uncomfortable self image of a woman doing typically women’s work while around me other women were digging, surveying, directing etc, demanding equality and parity while I  – it felt like – was holding back feminism with cake.

Reading Anne’s piece has made me nostalgic for those days of cooking, not for the horrendously early starts, but for the simple satisfaction of knowing I was doing a job that few can do and that I did it well. Research and parenting are rarely that straightforward. But despite really knowing that feminism is being able to do what you want to do because you want to do it rather than being forced into specific gender roles, I’d still feel ambivalent about going back to such a stereotypically female role and I’m not sure if that says more about my own shortcomings or about wider attitudes within archaeology and society.

I shall continue to ponder this and do weigh in with a comment if you have one.

Next week I shall return to Spitalfields, in the meantime – have a great weekend

Julia

Spitalfields

July 7, 2017

It was my birthday recently and as part of my present to myself I took 48 hours off, went to London to see my sister and meet up with friends. We didn’t intend to go to Spitalfields, but due to collective incompetence and inability to check museum opening times an exciting and innovative change of plan we went to Shoreditch and then walked down to see Christ Church

Christ_Church_exterior,_Spitalfields,_London,_UK_-_Diliff

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

(No idea how David Iliff managed to take that photo without losing life or limbs to the traffic. It took us 10 minutes just to get across the road.)

It is a lovely little church, built in the early 18th Century and one of the first of the ‘Commissioners Churches‘ or ‘Queen Anne Churches‘. The intention had been to build fifty new churches within London as a show of Anglican strength/pride/attempted conversion in those areas that had large non-Anglican populations. Spitalfields was largely populated by Huguenots and later Eastern European Jews fleeing the pogroms – so, to Queen Anne and the British Government it an obvious place to start evangelising Anglicanism. Remember that in Britain while it was no longer illegal to be non-Conformist, Unitarian, Catholic or anything other than an Anglican Protestant, only Anglicans were allowed to hold office or assemble for prayers – amongst other injustices. In typically British fashion, however, the full fifty churches were never built, the money ran out so only ten new churches were created and a two others were revamped.

Christopher Wren was one of the commissioners on the committee and his protégé Nicholas Hawksmoor was one of the surveyors. It has changed since Hawksmoor drew up the original plans. As recorded on a memorial outside, extensive rebuilding had to be done after a fire nearly destroyed the interior and spire in 1836. In 1866 they had a major re-fit and changed the entire interior, then in the 1960s it was decided to return the church to its original state (more information here and here). Knowing nothing of this, I simply admired the cool beauty of the interior:

Christ_Church,_Spitalfields_Interior,_London,_UK_-_Diliff

By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33654173

That makes it look enormous, whereas it’s remarkably small for such an extensive parish, but I’d temporarily forgotten I can take photos with my phone so I’m relying on what I can find on the interwebs – there’s a lot, this is particularly good for all things Hawksmoor. It has a very restrained plastered ceiling (particularly restful on such a hot day) except over the chancel* where cherubs run riot and there’s an especially nonthreatening lion with his traditional unicorn adversary

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It also has a beautiful restored organ,

Christ_Church,_Spitalfields_Organ,_London,_UK_-_Diliff

By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33654544

which unfortunately led to an outbreak of infantile sniggering – as an aside ‘Crikey, that’s a huge shiny organ’ is not something to say out loud in the company of a certain respectable archaeology lecturer and an equally respectable museum curator. I know that now.

It is a surprisingly large organ for a small church though. Look, this is what Wikipedia says ‘With over two thousand pipes it was, when built, the largest organ in England, a record it held for over a hundred years’. And it is very shiny, as I think you’ll agree. And this is probably not the moment to mention that the church is now also an events venue and  hosted a documentary and dinner celebrating Gilbert & George – they live in nearby Fournier Street. Whether the documentary featured enormous shiny organs I couldn’t say, but knowing Gilbert & George it seems extremely likely. Although I have to say their Jason Donovan picture was one of my favourite paintings in the Southampton City Art Gallery along with Chris Ofili’s poo pictures

I appear to have sidetracked myself. Hawksmoor, churches, eighteenth century architecture, Spitalfields, I had a plan when I started this. It all came together in my head and I thought it would make a good blog post but I seem to have got caught up in double entendres and modern art. I’m a bit out of practice at this blogging business.

Now, unlike Martyn, I haven’t read Peter Ackroyd‘s Hawksmoor (I tried, but really? My life is too short. I couldn’t get along with London, the biography either which I very much wanted to read) so I can’t do clever linky stuff to the histories of archaeology.  However, as I’ve said before, chuck a brick in London and you’ll hit some archaeology and Spitalfields has a lot of archaeology and history. I mentioned the Huguenots and the evidence for silk weaving and all forms of cloth production is still extant, Fournier Street (home of Gilbert & George and also Jeanette Winterson) is one of the best examples of early Georgian domestic town houses in Britain, Spitalfields Market has been extensively excavated  revealing multi-period occupation and Spitalfields is on the route of the Elizabeth Line, the new underground train route being dug by Crossrail, which has uncovered so much archaeology a lot of which is on display at the Museum of London Docklands. Add in the old Bedlam Hospital and there’s an awful lot that can be said about the past in Spitalfields.

But not today.

I’ve run out of time and written too many irrelevant words. I shall write some more next week, hopefully a little more cogent and coherent.

In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend

Julia

*It may not be the chancel, none of us could remember anything about ecclesiastical architecture or interiors despite having done directly relevant archaeology courses. ‘Squinches’ said E authoritatively ‘unless they’re pendentives’ I suggested we were looking at pilaster strips (it being the only term I remember from Anglo-Saxon church studies, and no, there is no reason an 18th century church would have Anglo-Saxon features but I was trying my best) and L, who knows a considerable amount about architecture, tried to decide if the columns were Ionic or Doric. It just goes to show, let 3 archaeologists loose in London for an afternoon and we will have a lovely time even if we haven’t a clue what we’re looking at.

HARN WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

June 30, 2017

OUR NETWORK IS GROWING AND WE HAVE A NEW MEMBER TO WELCOME:

Jacques Aymeric, University of Geneva

aymeric8003@hotmail.com

University of Geneva  Department of Genetics and Evolution

I study the medieval (pre-colonial) fortifications of West Africa. My current research focuses on the region of eastern Senegal and western Mali where I am interested in the causes of the inplementation of these structures, the techniques of constructions used and the heritage aspects related to their conservation.
My previous work allowed me to explore the interactions between fortifications and the formation of state entities in western Cameroon between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Welcome, Jacques, and many thanks for joining our community!

Workin’ for a Livin’*

June 30, 2017

Ahhhhhh, summer.  The time when we’re supposed to get a reprieve from our coursework, student supervision, or other administrative duties and get some actual research done.  That is, that’s the case if you’re in academia and have students to consider.  If you’re on the research side of things, maybe you’re off to the field this summer, or putting together an exhibit, or writing up your research from last year.  Or you’re an independent scholar who doesn’t get a break from your paid work to write.  The point is, there is so much time away from admin in the summer that we cannot but help be super productive in other ways.

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Well, that’s meant to be the point, anyway.

Around HARN towers, it means a lot of other things.  For some of us, it means lots of painful fun children’s events from school carnivals, to zoo trips, birthday parties, summer school shenanigans, swimming lessons and more.  For all of us, it’s more admin, more paperwork, more prep for next term.  I think it also means a break—any kind of break.  We really do need mental and physical breaks from the work we do for most of the year.  Taking a vacation, a mini-break, or simply spending a few days on the couch with some tea and a good book—or seven.  It is the 20th anniversary or the Philosopher’s Stone, you know (Go Ravenclaw!).

As for the writing, writing, writing we are all expected to do, we never get as much as we’d like.  What do you do to combat this?  One of my favorite tools is the Pomodoro technique.  I did learn about this from this post, and I love this woman’s blog in general.  She has a lot of practical tips for being productive while “only” working 40-hour weeks.  Granted, those hours are packed.  But if we say we work 60-80 hours per week, do we really?  But I digress…

Pomodoro timers are basically a customizable time-management tool that you can set for as much work/break time as you want.  Ideally, you do 25 minutes of work with a 5 minute break.  That’s as much as science says our brains can handle.  I try to get 5 Pomodoros of writing in per week.  Even during the semester.  It’s hard sometimes, but I consider “writing” to be any sort of activity that helps my research move forward.  Sometimes, 1 Pomodoro is looking up sources and ordering them (our tiny engineering library here does not carry a lot of books in my field…).  Did I create words for a count?  Nope.  But I did some activity that will allow my project(s) to move forward.  Writing in this way reminds me a bit of exercise—seriously, you have 30 minutes a day to do this, so quit putting it off and just do it.  If you have trouble finding a time to write because of meetings, appointments, other commitments, try thinking of it as an appointment in itself that you just cannot miss.  I do this with writing as well as exercise.  (Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes when people ask for a meeting at a time I have set aside for a run or a Pomodoro of writing, I tell them that I have a meeting scheduled for that time.)  There is also a project call Shut up and Write which has specific online workshops on Tuesdays for this purpose.

In the hectic summer, these practices help me write.  What are the practices that get you writing?

In summer

On top of writing, this summer, here in HARN Towers (Midwest US), I am having some renovations done to the house (the contractor is in my garage looking at some supplies AS I WRITE actually), leading a study abroad group to Nicaragua, trying to edit a couple of pieces of writing, edit other people’s writing, and prep for 2 new classes next term.

Ahhhhhhhhh, summer.

*I mean, Huey

–Kate

HARN WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

June 19, 2017

Josef Mario Briffa,

Pontifical Biblical Institute (www.biblico.it

briffa@biblico.it

Josef Mario Briffa SJ is Lecturer at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He read for a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the same institute (2012), and for a PhD at the UCL Institute of Archaeology (2017) on The Figural World of the Southern Levant during the Late Iron Age. He has recently co-authored, with Dr Claudia Sagona, a Catalogue of Artefacts from Malta at the British Museum (Archaeopress, 2017), and has researched extensively on Fr Emmanuel Magri SJ (1851-1907), pioneer in Maltese archaeology and folklore studies. He currently also works on archival material held at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and Jerusalem, with a particular interest in the excavations of Teleilat Ghassul. He has excavated in Malta and Israel, and is a staff member of The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition.

Welcome, Josef, and many thanks for joining our community!

A Grand Adventure

June 15, 2017

A Grand Adventure

The Lives of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad and Their Discovery of a Viking Settlement in North America – Benedicte Ingstad

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“Benedicte Ingstad’s biography of her parents succeeds on many different levels. It is first and foremost a portrait of two remarkably different explorers who eventually made one of the most important archaeological discoveries of their time. The book is also a terrific adventure yarn and a wonderful scientific mystery story. Researchers had long puzzled over whether the descriptions in Scandinavian sagas of Viking voyages to Vinland were in fact true. Deeply fascinated by these accounts, Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad set out to solve the mystery. The author presents their superb detective work in a deft, engaging way. This book is a classic.”—Heather Pringle, author of In Search of Ancient North America: An Archaeological Journey to Forgotten Cultures

In 1960, Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad made a discovery that rewrote the history of European exploration and colonization of North America – a thousand-year-old Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. In A Grand Adventure, the Ingstads’ daughter Benedicte tells the story of their remarkable lives spent working together, sharing poignant details from her parents’ private letters, personal diaries, their dinner table conversations, and Benedicte’s own participation in her parents’ excavations.

Following young Helge Ingstad from his 1926 decision to abandon a successful law practice for North American expeditions through Canada’s Barren Lands, Alaska’s Anaktuvuk Pass, and the mountains of northern Mexico, the story recounts his governorship of Norwegian territories and marriage to Anne Stine Moe. The author then traces Helge and Anne Stine’s travels around the world, focusing in particular on their discovery of the Viking settlement at the northern tip of Newfoundland. With Anne Stine as the head archaeologist, they excavate these ruins for eight years, while weathering destructive skepticism from academic peers, until indisputable evidence is unearthed and their find is confirmed. A remarkable look at a personal and professional relationship, A Grand Adventure shows two explorers’ unrelenting drive and unfailing courage.

Benedicte Ingstad is professor emerita of medical anthropology at the University of Oslo.

McGill-Queen’s University Press | June 2017 | 472pp | 9780773549685 | HB | £33.00*

20% discount with this code: CSL17AGABI**

*Price subject to change.

**Offer excludes the USA, South America and Australia.