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so long as there’s a castle

Today is my one month anniversary working at my new job and two months since I flew home. The time seems to have rushed by and in many ways I still feel like I’m only just getting used to being back in Blighty, but sure enough, the Americanisms have all but dropped out of my vocabulary, the nights have drawn in and I’ve rediscovered the joy of running (in the cold). My new week-day home in the quiet town of Midhurst, West Sussex is about as disorientatingly dissimilar from Durham NC as it is possible to get, but on exploring, I was comforted to find that it does at least come with a ruined ‘castle’. The ruins probably mean that I am in the right place; a reminder of the ruined castle that dominated my last British work-home location, Dryslwyn.

Cowdray house ruins, Midhurst (2013)
castle next door_crop
the castle next door, Dryslwyn (2012)

I am currently managing a HLF funded airborne laser scanning heritage project for the South Downs National Park, which explains the recent radio silence while I get it off the ground (quite literally in this case as were are commissioning flights!). There’ll be lots more to come from this exciting project as we explore the heritage of the wooded downlands – we may even get our own blog up an running in the spring, but I’ll try not to talk shop here too much (unless it’s really interesting!).

Autumn has been late here this year but as we hunker down for winter with short days and the the first frosts, I am looking forward to the spring and exploring a part of my homeland that I am pretty unfamiliar with. The countryside of the south-east of England with its gentle rolling hills, patchwork of fields, iconic coastal cliffs and chocolate-box villages provides a images that are synonymous with all that is stereotypically and wistfully English. Being from and living in the north or west of the country for most of my life, I recognise the stereotype but this imagery has very little resonance with the England of my experience, and I am keen to learn what is special and loved about this region. Below are some pictures from my first explorations of the High Woods study area that might just begin to give me a clue.



Bronze Age burial mounds illuminated in a woodland glade







The High Woods of my project area (from the top of the landrover)






The view from the Trudle across the coastal plain and English Channel