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Making a new TV show, Islands Out of Time


My inaugural lecture at Southampton
Colin Renfrew Archaeologist
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It was in 1972 that we moved down to Southampton which was another youngish university. Sheffield, of course, was so - called red brick university and had been founded in the 19th century but had expanded a great deal and has expanded since. Southampton was another originally red brick university and was expanding at that time, and Barry Cunliffe had got a very energetic department going and so it continued to grow in a very satisfactory way, I think. I very well remember my inaugural lecture there. As a professor one was expected to give an inaugural lecture and my theme, I chose to be social archaeology which I think was what archaeology was working towards at the time, but it was perhaps more memorable for the circumstance that the vice-chancellor, Professor Gower, knew well Sir Mortimer Wheeler because he had served in Sir Mortimer Wheeler's regiment while Wheeler was a colonel in North Africa during the war, and so Sir Mortimer Wheeler agreed to take the chair at the inaugural lecture. And so he was invited to make a few preliminary remarks, and Wheeler's remarks were very interesting but they extended from 5 minutes to 10 minutes to 20 minutes and an inaugural lecture is very carefully timed, it's supposed to be about 40 minutes, then you repair for drinks, and so the vice-chancellor evidently became slightly restive, as, indeed, did I, I was very nervous and I'd like to give me inaugural lecture. And so he sort of tried tactfully to interrupt Sir Mortimer in full flow and Sir Mortimer just got more firmly in his stride and recollected his military days with “Gunner Gower” as he referred to the vice-chancellor, in the North African campaign. But, anyway, Wheeler, finally sat down so I was able to give my inaugural lecture and so that was, as I say, on the theme of social archaeology.

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, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 14 May 2009