Olivia Laing was writing about a place in Sussex, but I thought about her words as I sat on a bench in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, looking out over this landscape.
"The past is not behind us but beneath, and the ground we walk on is nothing more than a pit of bones, from which the grass unstinting grows."1
This area will be the subject of an archaeological dig in the summer months as part of the University's Fieldschool. I've spent the last week devising a way to make a creative response to the dig as part of my residency.
Reading through the excavation plan, I've picked up some terms new to me: LiDAR, a sort of laser-scanning of the landscape, that can "see" through buildings and trees to create a beautiful graded monochrome image of the land's undulations; and lithics, the study of flints and stone tools, our earliest form of tool making. New and old technologies converging.
Bradgate Park has a long history, but as a protected area most of it has not been excavated so there are many secrets still hidden. As a place that I walk often, it will be really exciting to be a part of an investigation here.
I'm already thinking about the area in a different way. I watch the people enjoying the winter sunshine, walking the paths and tilting up the slopes, not giving a thought to what might be beneath them in suspended time. I wonder how my work will respond to the unlayering of some of this landscape.
The University's Fieldschool now have a blog and a Facebook page where you can follow progress and find out about the public open days.
1 To The River, Olivia Laing, 2011↩