Geology Revealed: The Late Triassic Mass Extinction Event and its Aftermath by Prof Richard Twitchett

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered at Lyme Regis © Dorset County Museum 2017

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered at Lyme Regis © Dorset County Museum 2017

One of the major mass extinction events of all time took place about 200 million years ago, triggered by volcanic activity associated with the birth of the Atlantic Ocean.  Elevated carbon dioxide levels at the time, led to global warming and associated environmental changes, some of which are similar to those we are currently experiencing. 

Southwest England contains some of the best locations to study the impacts of this extinction on marine ecosystems and this talk will outline some of the major advances that have been made recently.

Professor Richard Twitchett is a palaeontologist who has been researching the effects of Earth’s major mass extinction events for over 20 years.  Since 2014 he has been a Research Leader in environmental change at the Natural History Museum, London.  After graduating from the University of Bristol he completed his PhD at Leeds, and has undertaken research in the Americas, Asia, Europe & Australia, including fellowships at the University of Tokyo & the University of Southern California.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Wednesday 8 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 6.30pm and talks start at 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Archaeology Unearthed: Tears of the Sun: Bronze Age Amber Tracer Beads by Dr. Kate Verkooijen

Amber Bead Necklace

Amber Bead Necklace

In the early and mid-20th century, techniques such as radiocarbon dating did not exist or were still in their infancy. It was difficult, then, to date the various cultural groups in different regions of Europe to see whether they existed at the same time or flourished many centuries apart.

In light of this, the similarities between the amber spacer beads in Britain and Europe have been used for decades as evidence of direct links between the different European cultural groups during the Bronze Age. One of the main conclusions has been that there was a direct link between Early Bronze Age Wessex and Mycenaean Greece, due to the idea of nearly identical amber spacers found in both places.

Despite the prominent role they play in Bronze Age research, the evidence of the spacers both individually and within their original excavation contexts has always been poorly understood. For several decades the corpus was ill-defined and neither described nor presented consistently nor comprehensively. Dr. Kate Verkooijen’s research addresses this problem and, in the light of more recently excavated material and dating evidence, she re-assesses the previous conclusions about direct connections between regions. As well as presenting these results, she will also be bringing along two replicas of British Bronze Age amber spacer sets/’necklaces’.

Dr. Kate Verkooijen grew up in South Dorset and has lived in many places, including Australia. Twenty years ago, she returned to live in this area. Her early interest in archaeology was driven by curiosity about the many Bronze Age barrows on the Ridgeway. In the late 70s, she trained as a field archaeologist with Bill Putnam and worked at several sites across the county, including Culverwell and Hambledon Hill.

She has a BA in Archaeological Illustration (University of Bath/Swindon College of Art) and an MA in Experimental Archaeology (University of Exeter). Her PhD (also from Exeter) focused on the amber spacer beads from the Bronze Age across Europe. Currently, she is an independent archaeology researcher.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Friday 3 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and the Victorian School Mistress by Dr Jonathan Godshaw Memel

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

‘… she had altogether the air of a woman clipped and pruned by severe discipline, an under-brightness shining through from the depths which that discipline had not yet been able to reach.’

(Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure)

This description of Sue Bridehead during her brief time at college suggests the restrictive character of nineteenth-century teacher training. The two-year programme at Salisbury enforced standards of ‘humble femininity’ while preparing women from various social backgrounds for a vocation in the elementary schools.

Hardy’s sisters, Mary and Katharine (generally known as Kate), attended college at Salisbury while his cousin, Tryphena Sparks, trained at Stockwell.  As schoolmistresses their profession enabled greater independence from the pressure to marry, but their personal freedom was severely restricted during the process of qualifying. Trainee teachers were required to carry out extensive chores and study for long hours and their food portions were meagre. They were also subject to continual surveillance, while their choice of dress was restricted.

In this talk Dr Memel will consider representations of the work and training of female teachers in Hardy’s fiction, showing how the experiences of his female relations inspired acts of solidarity and resistance in his writing.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 2 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Next Literary Lives talks:

  • Thursday 25th May, Hardy and Poetry of Encounter by Philip Mallett
  • Thursday 27th July, Mr Hardy and Mrs Henniker – an Enduring Friendship by Helen Angear
  • Thursday 14th September, The Infants’ Grammar by Dr Alan Chedzoy
  • Thursday 26th October, Hardy and Sex Education by Dr Karin Koeler

Related Links:

Geology Revealed: Coastal Heritage Risk by Professor Robin McInnes

Lyme Regis, Dorset by G Hawkins. Aquatint Engraving, c 1830. This view looks eastwards towards Black Ven and Charmouth. Rapid erosion and coastal landsliding is a feature of this frontage. © Private Collection

Lyme Regis, Dorset by G Hawkins. Aquatint Engraving, c 1830. This view looks eastwards towards Black Ven and Charmouth. Rapid erosion and coastal landsliding is a feature of this frontage. © Private Collection

Come and join us on Wednesday 22 February for a talk on Coastal Erosion by Professor Robin McInnes. The presentation will explain the results of a major study, ‘CHeRISH’,  commissioned from Coastal & Geotechnical Services by Historic England. The project has been examining the potential for historical images (1770-1950) to support  understanding and improved management of risks to coastal heritage sites in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

Robin McInnes is a geologist, coastal scientist and art historian. He read geology at Southampton University and gained his PhD at Portsmouth University in Coastal Zone Management. He was technical chairman of the Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline and chairman of the Coastal Groups of England & Wales between 1995-2009. He was appointed OBE for ‘Services to Flood & Coastal Defence’ in 2006. Robin was Visiting Professor at the School of Civil Engineering & Environment at the University of Southampton from 2010-2014. In 2007 he established his consultancy Coastal & Geotechnical Services specialising in coastal zone and landslide risk management; he has been an advisor to the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, The Crown Estate and numerous other clients in the UK and overseas.

Alongside his technical publications Robin McInnes has a special knowledge of British coastal art and he wrote the standard reference work on this subject in ‘British Coastal Art 1770-1930’ in 2014. His has a particular interest in illustrating how art can support many aspects of coastal planning and management.

This lecture will be held in the museums’ Victorian Hall on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at 7.00pm (doors open at 6.30pm) and is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Related Links:

Archaeology Unearthed: The social role of non-metal valuables in Late Bronze Age Britain by Dr Joanna Brück

Necklace of jet and amber from High Throston. Co. Durham © Tees Archaeology 2017

Necklace of jet and amber from High Throston. Co. Durham © Tees Archaeology 2017

Bronze Age metal objects are widely viewed as markers of wealth and status.  Items made from other materials, such as shale and amber, tend either to be framed in similar terms as ‘prestige goods’, or to be viewed as decorative trifles of limited research value.  However, such simplistic models dramatically underplay the social role of objects.

In this talk Dr Joanna Brück will examine objects of amber, jet and shale in Late Bronze Age Britain, addressing in particular their contexts and associations as well as patterns of breakage to consider the cultural meanings and values ascribed to such items and to explore how human and object biographies were intertwined.

Dr Bruck’s primary area of research is the archaeology of the British Bronze Age.   She is particularly interested in the treatment of the human body and concepts of the self; depositional practices and what these reveal about the meanings and values ascribed to objects; and the relationship between space and society including domestic architecture and the changing organisation of landscape.  Dr Bruck has also developed research interest in historical archaeology, including Victorian and Edwardian public parks, and recently published an edited volume on the material culture of the 1916 Rising in Ireland.

This talk will be held at the Dorset County Museum on Friday 3rd February 2017 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

 

Travellers’ Tales: Sand, Rock and Snow with Caroline Richards

Caroline RichardsOn Thursday 26th January at 7.30pm, come join us for a fascinating talk by Caroline Richards who has run on four different continents far off the tourist trail.

Caroline will take you on a visit to four wilderness areas on four different continents, far off the tourist trail.  These remote environments provided a backdrop for multi-day, self-sufficiency running events in which she participated.  The talk is seen through the eyes of an ultra-runner, but provides varied insights and anecdotes into the diverse cultures involved.

At the age of 40, she decided to increase her level of fitness so that she would be able to climb Mont Blanc.  This positive outcome has subsequently encouraged her, over the last fifteen years, to test her limits.  Caroline has participated in multi-day, self-sufficiency events across the world’s deserts and mountain ranges.

Thursday 26th January at 7.00pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Geology Revealed: What is a species? The controversy continues; but does it matter? By Dr John Whicher

What is a species?  The controversy continues;  but does it matter? On Wednesday 11 January  at 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm). Come and join us for an interesting talk by Dr John Whicher.

The species is a fundamental concept of biology. It underpins the classification of organisms, our views on evolution and our measures of biodiversity. Research in many fields depends upon general agreement about what a species is. Darwin said: `No one definition has satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist knows vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species.’ It is therefore disappointing that there are more species concepts in use today than at any point in the past century, and the consensus in zoology about the Biological Species Concept has begun to unravel. Different species concepts impose different interpretations on the biological world which have important practical consequences.

Dr John Whicher is a retired professor of molecular pathology and experimental cancer research. His research interests were in the mechanism and consequences of the acute phase response. He is a fellow of the Geological Society, a member of the Geologists Association and an author of papers on Dorset geology and palaeontology.

Wednesday 11 January 2017 at 7.00pm (The Museum doors open at 6.30pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Travellers’ Tales: Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim: On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Like a Tramp Like a Pilgrim On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry  Bucknall

Like a Tramp Like a Pilgrim On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Thursday 17th November 2016 at 7.00pm. Come and join us for an interesting talk in our Travellers’ Tales series Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim: On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Watching in disbelief as his computer was struck by lightning in 2007, Harry Bucknall had no idea that the subsequent trail of events would lead him to Rome – five years later, on foot.

Following the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim path that dates back nearly two thousand years, Harry walks through England, France, Switzerland and Italy on a historical backcloth that is liberally coloured with tales of angels and saints, emperors and kings and war and revolution.  He uncovers a little known route that leads him through villages, towns and cities over rivers and mountains across Europe to the heart of the Eternal City, Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim is a joyous journey of Elizabethan proportion filled with anecdote, adventure and mishap as Harry observes the changing landscape around him, the people he meets, the places he stays and his assorted fellow pilgrims along the way.

Copies of Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim (published by Bloomsbury) will be available to buy on the night at the Museum.  Harry will be pleased to sign copies.

Thursday 17th November 2016 at 7.00pm (The Museum doors open at 6.30pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Geology Revealed: The Facts and Fiction of Fracking by Dr Julie Richardson

Shale Oil and Gas Dr Julie Richardson © 2016On Wednesday 9th November 2016 at 7.00pm (doors open at 6.30pm). Come and join us for an interesting talk by Dr Julie Richardson

This talk will look at definitions of shale oil and gas, their distribution, the UK potential, and environmental concerns, with possible solutions.

Dr Richardson started off in DPhil in geothermal energy, then joined BP in research looking at histories of sediments.  After having a family she had a mixed career, in and out of geosciences.  Most recently she has been working on Libyan fields and, after the overthrow of Gaddafi, looking speculatively at the shale oil and gas potential.

Wednesday 9th November 2016 at 7.00pm (The Museum doors open at 6.30pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Archaeology Unearthed: New light: Gold from Bronze Age Dorset and Beyond by Dr. Neil Wilkin

Tarrant Valley Bronze Age Lunula

Tarrant Valley Bronze Age Lunula DCM © 2016

Gold was amongst the earliest metals worked in Britain and Europe, its appeal has endured for millennia. Gold is a rare metal and it has long been thought to have magical properties associated with the worship of the sun because of its shining surfaces, sun-like colour and slowness to tarnish.

On Friday 4th November 2016 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm), Dr Neil Wilkin from the British Museum takes us on a 1,500 year journey through the different ways gold was made and worn during the Bronze Age in Britain, with special attention to the goldwork of Dorset, especially the spectacular new find of a lunula from the Tarrant Valley. The talk will explore the ways that the goldworking craft was related to changes in religious, social and economic activities and how the study of these beautiful objects is rewriting our understanding of the earliest age of metals.

Dr Neil Wilkin’s particular interests are links between Bronze Age ceramics and metalwork and Bronze Age funerary practices and grave goods. He is currently working on a project on prehistoric grave goods which aims to redisplay the Bronze Age material in the British Museum public gallery. He is also the project leader of the Asahi Shimbun displays in Room 3 of the British Museum, overseeing four shows a year focusing on iconic objects from across the Museum’s collection.

Prior to joining the British Museum, Neil worked at the University of Aberdeen’s Marischal [pronounced Marshall] Museum and completed a PhD on Early Bronze Age pottery and burials of Northern England.

Friday 4th November 2016 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter