Rena Maguire

Sunshine, lack of external factors to create procrastination and all the fresh fruit you can eat? Sign me up for a desert island! I just hope the dolphins dropped off lots of paper and pens as well!

Now, the books…

1. Renfrew and Bahn’s ‘Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice‘!!!!! People take bibles with them on desert islands, so I think I’d take this, thank you. It has saved my skin so many times through the years it has earned it’s keep! If I remember it also gives many practical survival hints such as flint knapping, metal extraction etc, so it would be very useful on a desert island!

2. Not strictly speaking a book, but a volume of journals bound lovingly… the entire series of Emania (published by Curach Ban books). I cut my teeth on these as a fresher and they sort of dictated the loves of my archaeological life – environmental archaeology and the Iron Age. The journal contains many articles written by people I know and like tremendously, so it would never let me forget them either 🙂

3. Relics of Old Decency, edited by G. Cooney, J. Coles, M. Ryan, S. Sievers and K. Becker (2009).
I always find something new in this weighty tome, every time I take a wander through its pages.

4. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, because they always make me feel I’m going to be okay even when feeling very scared of the big bad world out there. If ever there was a speech written for anyone in the gallant cause of archaeology it’s Samwise’s speech in Two Towers

And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

Pretty much sums up a lot these days.

5. La Tene in Ireland: Problems of Origin and Chronology Barry Raftery (1984). Because that is how you should make a perfect monograph that years later, it’s still the definitive go-to reference book.

6. Early Medieval Ireland AD 400 – 1100 : the evidence from archaeological excavations by F. McCormick, A. O’Sullivan, T. Kerr and L. Harney (2013). I got it out of the library and all I can say is… wow. If you’re going to reassess the past, do it in style, and this is sheer style and substance combined. I’d welcome a long time on a beach to really pore over it, in all it’s complexity.

7. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Because when I was very tiny, my grandmother bought me a copy of this – not that anyone in our house thanked her for it, as I alternated between crying inconsolably at the sad bits and pretending I was a horse at the good bits. Please note I was almost 5 – this was not, contrary to popular belief, last week. It instigated a lifelong passion for animals, and of course horses, and had it been another kind of critter, who knows what kind of PhD I would be working on now!

8. The Rise of Bronze Age Society by Kristian Kristiansen (2010). First time I read this, it just totally inspired me to look at everything differently.

9. Celtic from the West edited by Barry Cunliffe and John Koch — again, something I find inspires me between it and the newer Celtic from the West 2 (I’d ask those helpful dolphins to keep an eye out for that one if they saw it floating around anywhere!)

10. I think I’d rather like a lovely copy of Origin of the Species by Darwin; one of those marvellously illustrated editions, please!

Rena Maguire (@justrena) is a former media sort, and now a postgrad in environmental archaeology at Queen’s Univeristy Belfast. From September, Rena will be a PhD candidate, researching Iron Age equestrianism.


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