CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY 100
GEOFFREY WAINWRIGHT Geoffrey Wainwright is Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments, and as such he is mainly responsible for handing out excavation grants for rescue archaeo logy. But he is one of those admini strators who transcend the narrow bounds of office: he has recently been both President of the Prehistoric Society, as well as the Director of the Society of Antiquaries. In this interview he looks back on his career in archaeology and puts the current strategy of English Heritage into perspective.
Cardiff was excellent. I was on the very first archaeology course—there were just three of us, and we had a lot of personal attention from Leslie Alcock. At the end of my degree course at Cardiff I had the option of remaining in Cardiff as a Fellow or going to London to undertake research. I chose the latter to broaden my horizons, and I went to the Institute of Archaeology, where I studied under Professor Zeuner.
"I certainly did not intend to become an academic/administrator when 1 began archaeology. I was brought up in a very small village in south-west Pembrokeshire—the house I was brought up in for my first fifteen years was the last house between south-west Wales and America. It stood right on the coast in an area of outstanding natural beauty and, as I discovered from the age of about 14, of outstanding archaeological sites. My interest in the subject was based entirely on what I had seen in my walks around the village, in the work I used to do on farms where flint implements were strewn across the land surface and Celtic earthworks were on most of the promontories of the coastline. I was an absolute duffer at school. I don't think I ever achieved a position higher than 25th out of a class of about 30 throughout my entire school career. It was only when I went to Cardiff and studied archaeology under Leslie Alcock that I was sufficiently motivated to make an academic success of it.
My first excavation away from Cardiff was with the Royal Commission in Wales when I helped Mr Hogg excavate the hillfort at Tre Ceiri in the mid 1950s. But the first excavation I ever did myself was a mesolithic site in my home ground, Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire which I excavated with my friend Reggie Jones over a period of two weeks, and then published it in the Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies. My first rescue excavation was in Anglesey at Castell Bryn Gwyn in 1958 when I was given the oppor
tunity to excavate the site by Oswin Craster, who was then Principal Inspector in Wales, and I had time to do that excavation and write it up before going to London. Professor Zeuner, who headed the London course, was easily the most formative influence on the way I have approached archaeological problems ever since. He really opened my eyes to the multi-disciplinary nature of our subject. Zeuner was a great polymath, and to go for a walk in the countryside with him was a very exciting experience, because for him, everything meant something, and he took nothing at secondhand, so when discoveries were being made in the Rift Valley in Kenya, he went to Kenya himself to see it.
He got me my first job, as Professor of Environmental Archaeology in the University of Baroda, in India, at the ripe old age of 23. This was the dawn of archaeological science and it was a great opportunity to set up a new department and establish
Geoffrey Wainwright, on site on Dartmoor. 154