Dawn Cansfield

I would fill my time waiting to be rescued with a bit of hunting and gathering and the odd wander round the island looking for archaeological remains. In my downtime I would read these books to remind me of home.

Sun, Moon and Standing Stones – John Edwin Wood
Back in the 1980s this book captured my imagination when studying maths (my least favourite subject to this day) at school with its exciting connections between archaeological sites and geometry and astronomy. The combination of this and a visit to Castlerigg stone circle around the same time sowed the seeds of an interest in the Neolithic which was to emerge again in later years.

Midhurst – John Magilton and Spencer Thomas
This is the Chichester District Council monograph of the archaeology of my home town. It was in and around Midhurst during my childhood that my father took me and my brother metal detecting along Roman roads and the like, sharing his love of the area and its history which eventually rubbed off on us both.

singingThe Singing Neanderthals – Steven Mithen
My first experience of archaeology in Higher Education was a part-time (they’ve ALL been part-time) certificate course at Reading University. As evening class students we generally spent a couple of hours once a week with our regular lecturer but occasionally were treated to special lectures by other members of staff. Prof Mithen was one such guest lecturer and I remember us all being wowed by his knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject. This subsequently led to me buy the fascinating and groundbreaking The Singing Neanderthals.

AD 43 The Roman Invasion of Britain – John Manley
The first ever dig I went on was at Fishbourne Roman Palace in 2002 and the excavation, which was directed by John Manley, coincided with the launch of his book putting the case for the Roman invasion having been through Sussex rather than Kent. Being a Sussex girl myself I was more than happy to accept his analysis in this thoroughly engaging book, which is autographed for me by the author himself.

Landscapes of War: The Archaeology of Aggression and Defence – Paul Hill and Julie Wileman
While at Surrey University, where I completed my first degree having relocated from Berkshire, I acquired this book from its authors who were also my two favourite lecturers. It tied-in nicely with the module of the same name and inspired in me an unanticipated interest in defensive structures. It is also autographed – but only by one of the writers, I notice.

The Human Bone Manual – Tim White & Pieter A Folkens
My must-have osteo book. I love it for its wonderful, all-bases-covered detail, the myriad photographs of all the bones in the human body from every angle and its handy, portable size.

circles from skyLines on the Landscape, Circles from the Sky – Trevor Garnham
I was delighted – if a little surprised – when my brother and his wife went to live in Orkney and I made my first trip up to visit them at the earliest opportunity. A magical World Heritage site with so many Neolithic sites to see. I bought this book on my first visit and have a steadily growing collection of Orcadian souvenirs from my annual visits including, of course, a NoB hat from the Ness of Brodgar excavations.

Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind – Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey
In 2007, on a bit of a whim, I went with a friend to Houston one weekend to see the Lucy’s Legacy exhibition at the Natural History Museum. It was incredible and humbling to see the ‘superstar ‘ Australopithecus afarensis in person at the beginning of her six year tour of the States, but difficult for a keen photographer such as myself not to take any pictures (however I wasn’t going to argue with the armed guard). Instead, to mark the occasion, I have this excellent book by the man who found her.

Sussex Archaeological Collections 71 & 77
I’m not usually a collector (really!) but one day I hope to own the complete Sussex Archaeological Collections. Currently I have about 50 of the 150 volumes sitting on shelves in my study. This includes numbers 71 and 77 which are the two that contain reports on the 1930s excavations at Whitehawk Camp which I have been reading as part of my research.

A Body in the Bath House – Lindsey Davis
The Falco books always make me chuckle and this one, set at Fishbourne Roman Palace, was the first one I read having discovered it in the gift shop when I was digging there at FBE02.

Originally a Human Resources person but now far more interested in human remains (which, funnily enough, was what the HR department was affectionately known as), Dawn Cansfield has been inexorably drawn into the world of archaeology over the past decade or so. Currently spending her spare time doing a PhD at the University of Winchester in Early Neolithic mortuary practice.

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