Berwick St John Country Fair

Volunteers and project organisers were on hand over the weekend of 17-18th September to showcase the Foundations of Archaeology Project at this very well attended event. A key feature was the surprising and regular appearance (on the hour every hour) of a somewhat self-justifying and occasionally ill-tempered General Pitt Rivers, defending both his late 19th century excavations at Winkelbury, and his  Darwinist beliefs in the face of criticism from the hostile editor of a local newsletter. A key prop was Winkelbury itself, clearly visible above the fairground site.

If the General, as he liked to be addressed, was actually a modern imposter, the same could not be said of the local people who shared interesting information with us about the Rushmoor Estate and its famous archaeologist owner. The grandfather of one such informant was nearly killed by one of the unfortunate animals subjected to the General’s largely unsuccessful attempts at cross-breeding; he decided to leave his employ and become village postman instead. Another informant remembered the sad end of the museum at Farnham, corroborating existing stories about the unauthorised sale of some of the exhibits. All concurred, however, that the General himself was a fair man worthy of respect, something members of his closer entourage might not have agreed with.

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Site plans and archaeological drawings by Colt Hoare, Pitt Rivers and the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments were on display and could be contrasted with the recent geophysical survey results commissioned by the Project (University of Winchester) on the 3 project sites.

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