Jacquetta Hawkes at the Longstone.
NATURE NOTESDO you remember Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, the popular TV programme of the 1950s?
If so, you might remember Jacquetta Hawkes, the distinguished archaeologist who frequently appeared on the programme.
Few people are aware that during the 1950s she lived on the Island, in Brook Hill House, following her marriage to J. B. Priestley.
She had already made her name as an archaeologist, partly through her work as archaeological adviser to the 1951 Festival of Britain, for which she was awarded the OBE, and partly by the publication of her book A Land, a homage to the British landscape, which became an immediate best-seller.
She led a relatively quiet life here, writing books, plays and poetry, but also travelled widely for her broadcasting and journalistic work.
Her only dig on the Island was a small but significant excavation at the Longstone, which confirmed the adjacent mound was indeed the remains of a Neolithic long barrow, and not just a spoil heap as some had claimed.
She also gained fame as one of the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and in 1958 organised a big public meeting at Sandown Pavilion to promote the campaign on the Island.
In subsequent years she was frequently seen leading the famous Aldermaston marches.
Jacquetta was passionate, not only about archaeology and natural history, but about communicating with the wider public.
She is remembered as a populariser of archaeology and one of the first to use the mass media for this purpose.
She recognised the emotional as well as the intellectual appeal of connecting with the past, and the role of the imagination in enabling people to make contact with their origins.
This humanistic approach was not in tune with the prevailing academic view, and in that sense she was ahead of her time. She would no doubt applaud the efforts of many of today’s archaeologists to engage the public with the subject via the media and hands-on experience.
The life and work of Jacquetta Hawkes (1910-1996) are discussed by Dr Margaret Jackson in an article in the current issue of Wight Studies, the journal of the IW Natural History and Archaeologi-cal Society.
She is also the subject of a presentation at a meeting of the society next Saturday, November 12, at 2pm at Arreton Community Hall. Anyone interested in finding out more is welcome to attend.
Thanks to Dr Jackson for contributing this article, and also for sourcing the photographs.