The archaeologist, poet, and author, Jessie Jacquetta Hopkins was born in Cambridge on August 5th, 1910. It seemed an appropriate date to launch a new blogsite – Excavating Jacquetta Hawkes – in the run up to publication of her authorised biography next year.
As the introductory page suggests, this will be a place for processing the process of the 20 year project. During that time archaeology has undergone changes, in the UK especially, which make Jacquetta’s take on the personal past more fashionable and appreciated. From being long-overlooked, her work is being read by a new generation of past appreciators, hungry for what might be called Jacquettanalia. My posts here will be a mix of descriptions – about locations, people, things – thoughts, and updates. At Bradford University, where Jacquetta’s papers are housed, the Special Collections librarian, Alison Cullingford, has opened up a world of related artifacts in a thoughtful and beautiful looking blog This one, I hope, will complement that, and flesh out the process of telling a story about a life. An archaeologist’s tale, written by an archaeologist.
It is also an intersection where my own lives meet. I am also a news journalist and describe myself as a creative archaeologist, who uses the tools of both trades in the process. I have long regarded this biography, which was a form of rescue dig, as a literary excavation.
And I’ve always regarded archaeology is a form of language, it is why I studied it, as a dyslexic non-linguist trying to find new ways to engage. It was while grasping for examples of this poetic past, I came across Jacquetta’s love letter to the landscape of Britain, A Land. Much more on that later.
But this is a day to raise a glass, and a trowel – it is, after all, the season – to the life and extraordinary work of Jacquetta Hawkes.