Yes, 20 questions is back (for those of you who have noticed, this section contains more than 20 questions, but we officially recognise only 20, as the rest are anomalies). These questions provide a glimpse into the psyches of archaeologists today, but warnings must be given. Dragons be there! This section provides insight, but it also straddles madness.

Our interrogees this time are Alex Woolf and Dawn Hadley, who have shared their wishes and desires (or maybe they just answered the questions).

So take your pick:

The one who finds the 'flat-back-four' an ever-alluring thought with its ultimate execution exemplified through the play of Alan Hansen or the one who has found precious inspiration deep within the realms of Middle-Earth?

You may be able to express your choice as an active agent and skip to the button panel, but some choices you make can be 'wrong'.

Dawn Hadley's 20 Questions

1. Who would you most like to take out on a date?

Well....a date is rather small, maybe a melon [ok, that was pathetic]. For a seriously sexy evening out I guess it would have to be k.d. lang. Alan Hansen would be an obvious choice.....ooh, that voice, that authoritative knowledge, that Captain Scarlett persona, that wit, that body.....STOP.

Dawn's Dates

2. What would be your ultimate dinner party guest-list?

Along with myself there would be Isadora Duncan [she and I have a lot in common, see below], AEthelflaed Lady of the Mercians [just so long as she did not talk about how many vikings there were], Mrs Doyle [just to encourage us to eat up], Nick Drake [to sing to me.....seriously dreamy], Piers Gaveston, Ivarr the Boneless [so tell me Ivarr, was it really you buried at Repton??], and a job lot of Moreland/Edmonds.

3. What is your least appealing habit (what irritates your students most)?

These are not the same. People who've shared a house with me would say it's singing along loudly to my Doris Day CD in the shower or possibly my disgusting habit of eating spinach out of a tin. Students in a recent survey said it's the way I wave my hands around incessantly.

4. Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

"But that is an entirely different kettle of custard".

5. Beliefs: jumpers or cardigans/ sandals or boots?

Neither, lycra and running shoes.

6. Name three items that you would like to be interred with.

A tin of spaghetti hoops [as a memorial to those I've loved and dumped], a bottle of whisky [never lets me down] and a great blues song called "Dump That Chump" playing on a continual loop [oh God, I sound all bitter and twisted, don't I? Nah, just got a sick sense of humour -- kick 'em when they're down, I say].

7. What's the most outrageous/embarrassing thing you've ever done?

I fear it's going to turn out to be The Time Team........oh cringe. I ended up looking like the Debbie McGee of medieval archaeology.

8. If you had to start a new cult, who or what would be your idol?

Alan Hansen.....that voice, that authoritative knowledge.....[oh shut up! -- ed.]

9. Which musical instrument would you most like to play?

Triangle. Simple but effective. And sadly lacking from much of today's 'yoof' culture. And very easy to take on fieldwork.

10. What is your fieldwalking fantasy?

Due to an administrative error the entire community of Viking specialists ends up fieldwalking in the wrong field. It is being harvested by 300 combine harvesters which are running completely out of control. They are too busy arguing over how many vikings there were to notice. Suddenly it's too late. The entire community is harvested, baled up and spat out. Then I take over the world of viking [with a lower case v] studies, righting wrongs and pushing research to new and exalted heights.........yeah, ok, and then I wake up. Pity! Nice while it lasted.

11. Which cartoon character do you most identify with? -- TinTin, Captain Caveman, Fred Flintstone, Asterix, Thelma from Scooby Doo etc.

The cat who came back the very next day, the cat who came back, they thought he was a goner.

12. How large is your trowel?

Really big and fluffy, I love wrapping myself up in it when I get out of the bath. Oh, hang on, trowel.......er....why, how big's yours????

13. What/who makes you laugh?

Vic and Bob, all of my ex-boyfriends [thank you fellas, you've provided me with hours of entertainment.....coming soon to a bookshop near you], Canadians, anything on the vikings. So God help me if I ever go out with a Canadian viking specialist called Vic or Bob.........and then dump him! I'll be laughing non-stop for a decade.

14. Which book do you wish you had written?

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle [well, not quite a book, but not bad for those days]. Or maybe The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan.

15. What luxury item would you take on your desert island dig?

An aromatherapist.

16. Do you have a nickname / what do other people call you?

Fluffs [short for Fluffy Bunny], Pingu, Prawn, Dancing Dawn of the Danelaw and Dawn Chorus. But I dread to think about the names I don't know about!

17. What makes you lose your patience?

People who want to know how many vikings there were.

18. Who/What were you in a previous life?

Isadora Duncan.

Dawn in her previous incarnation

19. What site would you most liked to have worked on?

Repton in the late seventeenth century. Now what precisely did Thomas Walker see and report to passing gentleman scholar Dr Simon Degge some forty years later? This would resolve a lot of debate and speculation. Was it Ivarr the Boneless? Actually, I could ask him when he comes round to dinner.

20. If you had to set up a band, what would you call it?

I was once in a band named after a book by Rodney Hilton, "Bond Men Made Free". So looking along my shelves for inspiration......what about "Domination and the Arts of Resistance". Or "Making Sex". Or "Agriculture in the Middle Ages"......well, maybe not.

Short Biography:

Dr Dawn Hadley

I studied for a History degree at Hull University (1986-9) and then went to Birmingham to do my PhD (1989-92). I then spent a year teaching at Leeds University and came back to Birmingham with a British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (1993-6). Then I came to Sheffield. Outside work I run, do aerobics and ruin the effect by drinking too much.

And, I'll admit it, I like folk music.

Research Interests:

vikings [with a lower case v], settlement, social organisation and the Church in the Middle Ages. I have recently edited a book on masculinity in the Middle Ages, and have plans in the pipeline to do more on gender and sexuality.

Dr Dawn Hadley.
Graduate Admissions Tutor.
Department of Archaeology and Prehistory,
University of Sheffield, Northgate House,
West Street, Sheffield, S1 4ET
Tel: 0114 2222920

© Dawn Hadley 1997

Alex Woolf's 20 Questions

1. What are your pocket contents at the moment?

3 bits of kitchen towel used for wiping specs, keys to the department, keys for home, 72p in change, a comb, a receipt from Glasgow Queen Street Station Quicksnack [Bacon and Cheese Croissant 1.69, Coffee 0.94, total 2.63, cash 3.00, change 0.37], credit card holder (mostly full of used rail tickets), Edinburgh University Diary, handkerchief, wallet [containing 16 pounds cash and various old receipts, business cards and scraps of paper with people's phone numbers on].

2. What is your least appealing habit (what irritates your students most)?

Pausing after a long and complicated explanation of some obscure relationship in a lecture and saying: "But you don't need to know that!"

3. Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

"Contact Induced Language Change".

4. What was the first record you ever bought?

Beatles "Love Songs" from Boots in Eastbourne.

5. Name three items that you would like to be interred with.

A copy of my death certificate, a mobile phone and an aqualung.

6. What wouldn't you do for money?

Be a University lecturer.

7. If you had to start a new cult, who or what would be your idol?

Saint Gildas (I suppose he already has some sad Bretons following him), how about Muammer al Qadaffi, the greatest living African.

8. What is your favourite tipple?


9. What is your fieldwalking fantasy?

Coming across a loose slab and lifting it to discover a beehive cell containing a seventh century Cambro-Latin library including Maelgwn's reply to Gildas and St Belasius' Life of Arthur interalia (this is how I knew I was never an archaeologist at heart). If it had to be material culture then it would be a piece of E Ware with enough residue for a decent analysis.

10. What do you wish you had paid more attention to at school?

Languages especially Latin and German.

11. Describe your most interesting find.

A broch.

12. What makes you laugh?


13. Which book do you wish you had written?

Stammesbildung und Verfassung by Richard Wenskus, if I could've written that I would have no problems reading German academic texts.

14. When did you realise you were an archaeologist?

When I first got paid for it.

15. How long were you a student?

1 year at UCL, 3 as an undergraduate at Sheffield, and 4 as a postgraduate, so 8 years in all, with gaps between.

16. What luxury item would you take on your desert island dig?

An early Irish monastic site?

17. Who would you most like to take out on a date?

Who'd have me?

18. Who makes you laugh?

Mike Parker Pearson.

19. Who/What were you in a previous life?

I used to sell advertising space for 'Garden Answers' magazine.

20. What site would you most liked to have worked on?


21. Who/what has influenced you the most?

J.R.R. Tolkien.

by Luca Michelucci

22. If you had to set up a band, what would you call it?

Dry Island Buffalo Jump.

23. What sport team were you never picked for at school?

All of them.

24. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

A house in 'The Grange'.

Short Biography:

Alex Woolf doing his best impersonation of Indiana Jones

b. 1963, Boxmoor, Hertfordshire [a classic Chiltern villa]. 1966, moved to Wandsworth, London [first school teacher Nastassia Tolstoy, great grand-daughter of Leo], 1969 moved to Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, 1974-81 attended Bexhill Grammar School/Sixth form College. A-Levels in Ancient History, Medieval History and Eng. Lit.

1982-3 started to read Scandinavian Studies (Norwegian) at UCL, including 3 months at Folk High School in Norway.

1983 Dropped out and became cleaner in old people's home, seller of money and then of advertising space.

1986-9 Joint Honours Medieval history and medieval English at Sheffield, (first year extra subject archaeology) -- dug at Sutton Hoo on first long vacation and supervised on Western Isles field class in 1988 and '89.

1989 went to South America for 3 months and just wandered about reading Joyce's Ulysses and Stendhal's Essay on Love, returned to Sheffield and worked for Tempus Reparatum as a digger on and off for sixth months. Returned to the Western Isles and dug in Italy with John Moreland at Farfa.

1990-91 did an M.Phil at Sheffield on the transition from Late Iron Age to Early Historic Social Structure in Ireland.

1991-2 worked in the Sheffield departmental library for six months and then briefly for Tempus again before going to dig in Trondheim at the Archbishop's Palace site.

1992-5 full time Research student at Sheffield working on ethnic replacement in post-Roman Britain.

1995-7 Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Wales, Lampeter.

1997- Lecturer in Celtic and Early Scottish History and Culture, University of Edinburgh.

Research Interests:

Ethnic interaction and economic transformation, Language and Archaeology, transition from tribalism to statehood -- generally but especially in those parts of Europe which missed out on the Romans.

Email Alex.Woolf@ed.ac.uk,

Dept. of Celtic, & Dept. of Scottish History,
19-20 George Square, 17 Buccleuch Place,
University of Edinburgh,
tel. [0131 6]511374

© Alex Woolf 1997

Go on, e-mail assemblage today!

© assemblage 1997