Where it all began

Where it all began

If I could roll back the sands of time things would be very different. I would be wealthy beyond my wildest dreams for starters. Plus, a handful of other events that didn’t quite go my way would have turned out significantly better. But alas, it is not to be.

However, assuming I could manipulate time I would, on this occasion, wind the little hand back to 2016 and the big hand to September.

September 2016

The weather was typical for the UK at that time of the year – overcast and cool with the threat of rain constantly in the air. A weekend-long event called “Secrets of the Heath” (organised by the South Downs National Park Authority) was taking place just outside the market town of Petersfield in Hampshire. Visitors to this event were enjoying talks, demonstrations, and re-enactments of a historical nature. In fact there was a deeply historical theme to the whole event as it primarily sought to highlight how the South Downs landscape had been occupied by mankind over thousands of years.

One could also learn about the arts and crafts practiced by peoples from various periods of history and one exhibitor was Butser Ancient Farm. At the time, I was aware of Butser Ancient Farm and what they did but I had never visited their local experimental archaeology site. However, I idly pocketed one of their promotional leaflets and promptly forgot about it.

At this point in my tale, it is also worth mentioning one other exhibitor who casually sat under his shelter knapping flint and sharing tales and hypotheses about neolithic man through the smoke of his open fire. I was blown away by the skill and knowledge of this crazy, deer skin clad cave man. This was my first encounter with Will Lord and although I didn’t know it at the time, our paths were to cross again in the future. But I’ll save that for another post.

It was a few days after the Heath event that I re-discovered the Butser leaflet and studied it in more detail. I found out that they offered various workshops including a single day of bronze casting. They gave the option of casting an axe head or a knife and I remember thinking it would be rather cool to make a bronze knife. A knife had more immediacy … in my head, I could relate to a knife as a tool much more easily than an axe head (rightly or wrongly). Additionally, the idea of creating an item from molten metal and finishing it to arrive at a replica artefact suddenly had immense appeal for me. I discussed this with my wife and she kindly offered to pay for me to attend the course as a Christmas present – how could I refuse an offer like that?!

And so it was, my journey into bronze casting proper was about to begin.

Aside

As a completed aside, Petersfield Heath is of significant historical interest as it contains no less than 21 barrows (burial sites) dating back as far as 2200 BC. I do wonder whether many of the dog walkers there realise they are allowing their pets to defecate in an ancient cemetery.

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