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St Albans School and developing an interest in archaeology


Early life and going to see The Agamemnon
Colin Renfrew Archaeologist
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Well, to start at the beginning, I was born in 1937 and both my parents were Scottish. My mother was from Ardrossan and my father from Glasgow, from Giffnock, and he went to Glasgow University and did a degree in chemistry and then his first job and from then on he was with ICI Plastics, first of all as a chemist and then more and more into organisation and sales. So they moved south with ICI and so I was born in Stockton-upon-Tees, a place with which I've no other close connection, I may say, and then we lived at Barnard Castle for a few years, which I don't really remember and then we moved south when I was three or four to Welwyn Garden City, which is where I do remember, where I really spent my childhood and so I went to a private school there to start with, Sherrardswood School. And my mother felt that really it wasn't all that she thought it ought to be and so they put me in for a scholarship to St Albans School, which would be described strictly as a public school but it wasn't in the main a boarding school though there were a few boarders there. And so I went in by bus daily with my bus pass and so on, having passed the 11 Plus, which is really what we're talking about, to St Albans. And St Albans School is really an excellent school. It's one of the oldest schools in the country, it was founded in 948, or so it claims, and it occupies the Abbey Gateway, which was the gateway to St Albans Abbey when that was a large complex, and then it has a whole series of other buildings there. And it was run by a very enterprising headmaster who was very keen on the classics and I - one of my early recollections of the school is being taken to see the Greek play in Cambridge. He just asked who wanted to see it and, of course, the Greek play is done in Greek. I wasn't doing Greek at school nor were very many of the other people who went, but it was a good experience. It was “Agamemnon”, it was "The Agamemnon" by Aeschylus, and that was sort of my first experience of things Greek in a very profitable way.

Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn is a British archaeologist known for his work on the dispersal of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and the prehistory of PIE languages. He has been Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge as well as Master of Jesus College and Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

Listeners: Paul Bahn

Paul Bahn studied archaeology at Cambridge where he did his doctoral thesis on the prehistory of the French Pyrenees. He is now Britain's foremost specialist on Ice Age art and on Easter Island, and led the team which discovered Britain's first Ice Age cave art at Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire, in 2003. He has authored and edited numerous books, including Journey Through the Ice Age, The Enigmas of Easter Island, Mammoths, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art, and, with Colin Renfrew, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice which was published in its 5th edition in 2008.

Duration: 2 minutes, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 14 May 2009