Candidate Profile

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Author / Writer
History - General
Vikings & Scandinavia
Caroline Wickham-Jones is a consultant archaeologist living in Orkney. In 2015 she retired from lecturing in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen; today she relishes the freedom from bureaucracy which allows her to devote more time to understanding the past.

Caroline is particularly interested in communities living in northern environments, from the Stone Age to the Viking Period. She has led excavations on many key sites and investigated prehistoric lifestyles using experimental archaeology, including a week spent living a ‘stone-age’ lifestyle in Lapland. One of the nice things about archaeology is the way in which it takes you to interesting places: her research has taken her to many remote communities from Arctic Norway to the Beagle Channel and Central Asia. Recently her work has expanded to include the underwater world of lands that were flooded when sea-levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age.

She is lucky to live in Orkney where the archaeology is world class. She is part of a network of archaeologists working to manage the sites and make sure that visitors get a first class experience when they visit the islands. She has written several popular archaeology books including the best-selling guidebook to the archaeology of Orkney and she is a frequent commentator for radio and the newspapers. She is actually an award-winning journalist having won the British Archaeological Press Award in 2004 for the archaeology radio programme which she presented at the time! In 2016 she worked as a consultant to the BBC for the production of the Secrets of Orkney series which aired in early January 2017.

Lecturing and communication is not just an important part of her work, it is something that she loves doing whether she is speaking to an academic audience or a local society. One of the more fun aspects today is helping aspiring (and established) novelists with archaeological detail.

Caroline is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

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1. Viking Sagas – Viking Lives
The Viking Sagas were an important form of popular entertainment and education, first written down some 800 years ago. Many cruises follow in the footsteps of famous sagas. We can use these accounts to explore events across the northern ocean from Norway to North America and visit some of the buildings that still stand today. The stories are never just about political intrigue – there is always a good smattering of love, some interesting food and drink, and plenty of murder!

2. Celebrity Watching: Viking Style!
The Sagas provide us with an intimate glimpse of the lives of those who made the northern waters their home. Who were the stars of the day and what can we learn about them? People like Kali Kolsson, Svein Asliefarsson, and Ragnhild Eiriksdottir, all of whom lived in Orkney, provide first-hand accounts (sometimes written by themselves) of rebellious teenagers, unsuitable marriages, and horrible deaths. In addition, there are stories like that of Margaret of Norway who grew up in Bergen but died in Orkney, in 1290, at the age of seven. She is buried in Bergen and I like to visit her grave when I visit Norway.

3. Britain's Lost Atlantis: a time-travellers guide to Doggerland
Island Britain is a recent thing; for most of human history Britain was merely the tip of the western plains of Europe. The early settlers of these islands were no strangers to changing climate and rising sea levels. Recent research sheds new light on the lands beneath the seas. This lecture will bring to life the hunter-gatherers who made their homes in Doggerland and examine how they coped with sea-level rise.

4. Green at heart - living in the Stone Age
The prehistoric inhabitants of Europe left a rich legacy in the form of archaeological remains which survive as some of our most iconic sites. An introduction to the Stone Age lifestyle helps to breathe life into the ancient stones and sites that can be visited as we travel around the coasts of Europe.

5. Back to the Stone Age: World Heritage Orkney
Orkney was inhabited long before the Vikings came to the islands. Five thousand years ago the islands were home to stone age farmers who lived in small villages and farmsteads and built fine ceremonial monuments and tombs. They prospered in the fertile islands and the evidence suggests that they may even have been influential in the development of sites like Stonehenge (so you are getting the original when you come to Orkney). Exceptional preservation conditions have left us with remains that provide unusual detail of the lives of our prehistoric ancestors. In 1999 the best of these sites were chosen by UNESCO to be World Heritage Sites. We can visit them – what was life like for those who lived in Orkney all those years ago?

6. Archaeology uder the Ocean
Shipwrecks; drowned landscapes; lost cities: there is so much more to underwater archaeology than sunken vessels. This lecture uses the rich visual legacy of underwater research to introduce guests to the hidden world beneath our feet.

7.What is a World Heritage Site?
World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO and provide some of the most amazing sites to be visited around the globe? What makes a place eligible for this accolade? In order to get the most out of your visit you have to understand the background to the people who once lived there. World Heritage Sites can still be dusty ruins - this lecture will bring them to life wherever they are.

8. Warfare and the shaping of the archaeological record
Violence (sadly) has been an aspect of life from earliest times. From early in prehistory It has played an important part in shaping our archaeological remains. Around the UK and Ireland, we can visit many sites which attest to the human ability for aggression and defence. Promontory forts, historic castles, and the remains of recent wars all provide a fascinating glimpse of the ways in which society has sought to fulfill its changing needs.

9. Living with Archaeology
A degree in archaeology means that a walk in the country will never be the same again! My life as an archaeologist has taken me to some amazing places and allowed me to meet some fabulous people. From my days as a recent graduate trying to work out how many Weetabix you needed for 30 hungry archaeologists on a remote Scottish island, to a week living as a Stone Age gatherer in Lapland, or recent exploits trying not to drown as we took cores from the sea bed in the waters of Orkney: I have got plenty of stories to tell.

10. Fitzroy, Darwin and the ‘Savages’ of the Beagle Channel
As the Beagle made her way through the waters around Tierra Del Fuego, Darwin and Fitzroy marveled at the 'primitive savages' they observed. Sadly, they could not understand the highly specialised and well-adapted lives of the local peoples, while their own lifestyle, based on western needs and ways, proved to be more difficult than they anticipated.

11. Living at the ‘Uttermost Parts of the Earth’: Lucas Bridges and Harburton
In his later life Lucas Bridges wrote a wonderful account of his childhood at the remote estancia of Harburton where his father had set up a missionary station. How do you raise a family with no facilities?

12. The Mimosa and the Welsh settlement of Patagonia
In July 1865 the Mimosa arrived on the desert shores of Patagonia with a group of Welsh settlers who had set out to form a new community. Though the settlement would eventually flourish, initially the intrepid families found themselves living in caves and with little water: the early years were difficult.

10. I would also suggest considering a 'Book Club' style discussion. Many itineraries have iconic novels that bring to life particular ports or sites to be visited.
2016, Boudicca, Lecturer for Norwegian Fjords & Orkney Isles, great trip, interesting guests.
2017, Viking Sky, Lecturer for 'In the Wake of the Vikings'. Loved the trip, loved the guests, much enjoyed the experience.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sea SE180904 In the Wake of the Vikings 14 Bergen Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Viking Sky SK170909 In the Wake of the Vikings 14 Bergen Saturday, September 9, 2017
Boudicca D1612 Norwegian Fjords & Orkney Isles 8 Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland Friday, July 15, 2016