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Classes at school and a trip to Paris


Studying science and getting into Cambridge
Colin Renfrew Archaeologist
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At school I was in the sixth form, I'd opted to go into the science sixth because I did find the physics and so on very interesting and if I wanted to understand the world somehow, understand the cosmos, physics was a way to do it and one seemed to be learning things all the time. It was a very progressive course. I didn't feel that quite so much on the arts side although I did enjoy the English very much and the history to some extent, and so it seemed clear that the sensible thing to do was to go into the science sixth and then get one's A levels and then apply to university and so I did apply to Cambridge. I suppose that must have been the headmaster's influence. He was a great Cambridge man, so that was the obvious place to apply being quite close to Welwyn Garden City, it was a natural thing to do and so I remember being put in for a scholarship. Of course, headmasters always love their pupils to win scholarships so that would have been in 1954, I suppose, and so I went to stay in Trinity College and it all seemed hugely grand as, indeed, it was, and I didn't get a scholarship then. I was offered a place, which seemed no bad thing, but the headmaster thought it would be better if I did the scholarship the following year, which would still be in reasonable time. So I went up to St John's the following year and was then offered an exhibition. But in those days one had national service and one could defer the national service, as many people did, but I thought it would probably be better to get it over with so I didn't go up to - to university at once.

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, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 14 May 2009