Weʼre raising £2,500 to towards tuition fees for a PhD Project exploring Dartmoor's ritual landscapes - stone circles, rows etc. plus some enigmatic new discoveries
- Dartmoor, Devon
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I was brought up on a farm on Dartmoor and have spent most of my life trying to make sense of the moor's world-famous Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial or 'ritual' monuments. I have finally reached the stage of bringing years of fieldwork and research to fruition by undertaking a PhD and publishing the results but I need your help please. I have been involved with promoting and fundraising for several organizations over the years but have never had to sell myself like this so please forgive me if I come across as immodest in any way! I won't derive any personal financial benefit from this campaign, any donations will go to paying tuition fees. Thank you for taking the time to read more about what I want to achieve and the benefits to the wider community.
Inspired by the discovery of a cannonball on the moor near the farm when I was seven, I started collecting items of old farming equipment and local social history and gradually created a museum in an old farm cottage. In 1981 when I was in my early twenties, I took up the challenge of becoming the founder curator of the newly-formed local museum association in Okehampton and eventually transferred my own collection there to get it off the ground. We had already acquired some interesting old derelict buildings and there was an enthusiastic committee and a keen group of volunteers ready to help but there was no money or collection at that point. Starting with nothing other than a makeshift desk, a second-hand portable type-writer and a copy of the Directory of Grant-making Trusts from the Library, I set about raising money to renovate the buildings, build local support and to develop the Museum of Dartmoor Life as it was to become. They were hard but exciting times and I'm so glad I stuck with it as it's wonderful to see the Museum thriving today and inspiring other young people.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to attend university then but I did eventually get the chance to undertake a Diploma in Museum Studies and, subsequently, an MA - both with distinction and both involving part-time study while working and bringing up a young family on a tight budget so I have first-hand experience of the sacrifices and sheer hard work involved in instigating and managing projects as well as being a mature student! Determination, resilience and resourcefulness are my greatest strengths I think, I am certainly not a quitter! I went on to work for English Heritage for a few years, managing properties in care in Devon and Cornwall. When I was made redundant in 2004, I learned the art of traditional stained glass design, manufacture and restoration and set up my business, Angel Stained Glass, which has involved working on many beautiful old buildings.
Archaeology is my Passion!
I have retained a life-long passion for archaeology and Dartmoor and in 2007, following a hunch, I discovered the amazing Sittaford stone circle beneath vegetation and peat where it had lain hidden for hundreds or probably thousands of years. Over the course of decades of fieldwork and research I have recognized dozens of other such ritual monuments to add to Dartmoor's already rich Prehistoric heritage, including stone circles, stone rows, cairns and even boulder-formed giant hill figures and a rare Neolithic 'causewayed enclosure' among other things. It has long been my ambition to study for a PhD on the basis of this research. I believe the results of this project will change our understanding of these enigmatic monuments and how they relate to each other over time.
I want to take you with me on this journey of discovery!
Sittaford Stone Circle unveiled - Midsummer sunrise over Sittaford Tor
I am thrilled to be able to announce that I have just been offered a place as a part-time (six years) Postgraduate Research Student in the Archaeology Department of the University of Exeter under the supervision of Professors Alan Outram and Linda Hurcombe and relish this opportunity. However, I have to fund myself and continue to work part-time to live.
This is where I need your help please ....
The basic tuition fees are currently £2200 per year plus my travel and other expenses. On top of this, I plan to raise another approximately £15000 for specific projects which will include geophysical survey of a number of sites plus targeted small-scale excavations, dating and environmental sampling and so on. I illustrate a few examples of proposed project sites below (all images copyright Alan Endacott, 2018):
Possible Neolithic 'causewayed enclosure' and long cairn to be investigated
A further possible stone circle to evaluate
Aerial photograph showing a possible Neolithic 'ritual island', with buried features to be investigated
One of several possible geoglyphs or boulder-formed 'hill figures' (probably the one that gave Whitehorse Hill its name) that I have already surveyed but now want to classify and date as part of the project. Their iconography could provide a rare insight into the beliefs and ritual practices of Dartmoor's pre-Christian people.
The hardest thing to raise funds for at my age (I turn the big 60 in August!) are the tuition fees. Unfortunately I have always been drawn to jobs and pastimes that have been worthwhile and rewarding but not very lucrative so, hence, I need your help. I don't expect it for nothing and I am more than willing to offer something in return. To start with, I am happy to share what I learn - I'm not the only person to be fascinated with our ancestors' beliefs and rituals, nor their sense of place and spectacle. For donations of over £50, I would like to involve you in the discovery process itself where possible, through participating as a volunteer on projects or attending talks, seminars and interactive guided walks. I will certainly keep you informed of progress as the investigations proceed and will try to tailor any rewards to your particular circumstances if I can. Those who are prepared to make larger donations of £500 or more as sponsors will also be fully acknowledged in any relevant publicity or publication and thus ensure that your contribution is recorded for posterity. Donations of any amount will be very gratefully received and acknowledged, thank you.
To follow the Project on Facebook please follow this link:
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope that it has inspired you to get involved.
If, like me, you love Dartmoor, you may enjoy the following video that I recorded at Sittaford stone circle early one morning as I witnessed the midsummer sun rise over Sittaford Tor. I think it encapsulates what makes Dartmoor and its ancient monuments so special:
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- 13 days ago
Alan Endacott13 days ago
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Aug 4, 2018
Happy 60th Dear Alan!! Good luck with your studies & make sure you get your homework in on time!! Love Ali & PC xx
Aug 1, 2018
Happy Birthday Alan! Hope this helps a little. Looking forward to hearing all about your discoveries!
Jul 28, 2018
Happy Birthday Alan. I’m sure this will be far more use than some daft Birthday gift ( plus I never know what to buy you ) All the very best in your studies. Jen xxx
May 18, 2018
So important to publish your research. Good on you! Caya
May 12, 2018
Best wishes with your phd Alan - I admire your spirit!
May 8, 2018
I can think of no better person to research this field Alan; your passion and commitment are evident. I wish you every luck in your studies. Maria.
May 8, 2018
Well done, looking forward to you becoming the boffin for the area.
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About the fundraiser
Alan is a self-employed stained glass artist/restorer and freelance writer with a passion for archaeology. He was formerly the Curator of the Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton and the nearby Finch Foundry and subsequently English Heritage Area Manager, for Devon & Cornwall.
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