Countdown to a PhD: 71 days to go

Okay, yesterday was a bit of a bust, yet again. The chapter from hell continues to be a nightmare to write. I did get some words on the page yesterday but I seem to have lost sight of why part 2 exists. It seems to be just a different way of stating what I’ve said in part 1 which is just repetitive and makes it seem slightly pointless.

So action plan: write in my notes, in note form, into the section in the chapter, send it off to my supervisor (it’s due tomorrow anyway) and wait for a discussion with him next week (we have a meeting on Tuesday). I’ve been in similar situations with bits of previous chapters and sometimes I just need to talk it through with my supervisor for it all to fit back into place. I’ve just wandered a little far from the path in my brain (easily done in the depths of a PhD) and supervisory discussions have been known to redirect me back to the path, or find a new one!

Yesterday’s saving grace was the talk by Richard Buckley, The King Under the Carpark: Greyfriars, Leicester and the Search for Richard III. This was, perhaps unsurprisingly, extremely interesting. It was great to hear the story straight, as it were, from the horses mouth – straight from the man in charge of the research project. I’ve read a book about it by Mike Pitts and seen the Channel 4 documentary but never heard about it from someone who was actually involved in the project. I was pleasantly surprised to find that what Pitts had written, as a third party, was indeed exactly as it happened and a faithful account of the events of the project. I was particularly shocked in Buckley’s talk to see how close subsequent activity had come to discovering / destroying the final resting place of the some time King (second image, top row). His feet are most likely to have been lost to a nineteenth century brick outhouse…

A selection of slides from Buckley’s talk.

The discovery of Richard III will remain one of archaeology and the country’s greatest moments in modern times. And I believe the way the research project was conducted – not as a search for the king but as a chance to investigate the little known friary – was the best possible way to have dealt with the situation. The fact that it succeeded in all of its research objectives, including its most unlikely, and exceeded all expectations remains an exceptional feat of archaeological investigation.


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