How many times have you used that phrase? I have, many times, and usually about the same thing: my career choice. Had I known, forty years ago, there was such a profession as landscape archaeologist…well, my life might look very different now.
A landscape archaeologist interprets and translates human-built or human-transformed landscape features as part of a larger understanding of human settlement and history. On a simplistic level, it’s what I’m doing when I walk in the regrowth forests east of my village, and stumble over a limestone-boulder boundary wall hidden deep in the trees, and interpret that as evidence that these treed lands were once cleared and farmed. Or when I look at my local landscape on Google Earth, and see the roddens, the ‘ghosts’ of waterways that still show under ploughed soil, indicating that these croplands were once marsh.
For whatever reasons, landscape archaeology calls to me. I can study maps and Google Earth for hours on end. When I walk in a landscape, I’m looking for those hints of land use and habitation. But, until the great British TV series Time Team, I hadn’t a clue there was a profession that did this too. I imagine BD still remembers my reaction on discovering that Time Team member Stewart Ainsworth got paid to do exactly that. And so for twenty years or so, I’ve been saying ‘In another life, I’d have been a landscape archaeologist’.
Except there isn’t another life. There is only this one. I’m nearly fifty-eight, and I have no reason to pursue a career as a landscape archaeologist. But why should I not pursue it as an amateur, in the true meaning of that word – one who does something for the love of it?
In this digital, connected, on-line world, I can take courses from anywhere. Including courses from the British universities of Exeter and/or Cambridge on various aspects of landscape archaeology. I could, in theory, even get a degree through on-line studies. I doubt I’ll go that far….but who knows? I’m going to start with an introductory course and see where it leads. In this life.