So, in this first post, a quick introduction. My name is Heather Armstead and I am an archaeology student in my second year at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. I met Karl in the first week of my degree, when he came to demonstrate flintknapping for us in a soggy field in West Sussex. The following year, I was back in that field demonstrating experimental metallurgy and attempting to avoid setting students on fire or poisoning them with lead fumes. I’ve been helping Dr David Sim for a couple of years with his reproduction and testing of Roman arms and armour, so I’m no stranger to doing blokey, physical activities (I’m also in my twentieth year of playing baseball for a mens team).
I spent a lot of time with Karl at the start of this year, helping drag him into the Digital Age by setting up and running his social media gubbins, and managing the non-technical side of the website. I gatecrashed most of his bookings across the summer, taking photos and (wo)manning the stand with the travelling lithics collection during demonstrations. One booking was at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, and while Karl was off getting a well earned coffee, a group of tourists asked me to show them how to make a stone tool. Desperately trying to remember what I’d learned in my first year, while nervously regurgitating Karl’s spiel, I hacked out a reasonable scraper. I really enjoy the tactile nature of the flint and the satisfaction of making something – and so here I am, apprenticed and starting the long journey to becoming a flintknapper.
This series isn’t intended to be a heavyweight academic exploration of gender issues in archaeology, but hopefully you’ll find it informative and entertaining. Keep an eye out for posts on a fortnightly basis and do feel free to jump in on the comments section!