Our next seminar is 18:00, 31 January with Hiedi Richards (https://www.facebook.com/events/370714326640174/) talking about ‘From Romance to Reality: Influences of Medieval Romance Literature on Late Medieval English Castles’. As usual, tea and biscuits from 17:40. Below we talked to Heidi about Dolphins, Broadway and King Arthur!
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from?
I am from Raleigh, North Carolina, in the United States. I originally went to university to get a degree in musical theatre–I was aiming for a career on Broadway. But after my first year, I had a change of heart and wanted to be Indiana Jones (which was my original dream through high school). I completed my degrees in archaeology and religion at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). I worked at a church with teenagers for a few years and then felt that the archaeologist inside of me was longing for England.
What brought you to Durham?
When I was about 13 years old, I received a calendar with castles on it one Christmas. Since then, I’ve known I wanted to live in England and work with castles in some way. When I was working on my undergrad degree, I did a 6 month study abroad program in Swansea, Wales, where I had an internship with the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust. That opened up the door for me to come back to England. When I decided I was going to come to England as a postgrad student, I originally had my mind set that I would go to school in London. Then one day, I did a random google search and happened to see Durham. I saw how charming it looked online, and that it also had an excellent archaeology department, and I instantly had my heart set on coming to Durham. I came to Durham for my MA in September of 2014, and now I’m in the second year of my PhD.
What is your favourite thing about the medieval/early modern period?
As you can probably tell by my title, I really love castles and the romance of the middle ages. I’m a bit of a dreamer…my favourite FAVOURITE thing is to just wander around castle ruins and let my imagination go wild.
What does your research focus on?
My research focuses on influences from medieval romance literature on later medieval English castles–focusing on landscape design and castle architecture. I look at my research from a buildings archaeology perspective, which uses standing structures to tell the story of a place rather than artifacts. Instead of the stratigraphy of soil, I look at layers of architectural features.
What do you plan to focus on in your seminar?
I plan to just give an overview of my research: what it’s all about, how it works.
If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?
I would either be in musical theatre or a murder mystery writer. Or, possibly a marine mammalogist—I really love dolphins and otters.
Do you have a favourite medieval/early modern text?
Probably Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. In my opinion, it really initiated the emergence of all the great romances and Arthurian stories. It combines the ancient imperial ancestry myths of England with the early medieval history of Britain down through the lineage of Constantine and King Arthur. Fascinating stuff!