On Friday evening, I went down to Sale in Greater Manchester for another lecture – this one by the fascinating Professor Alice Roberts.
Professor Roberts’s career has branched in many different directions, and she began her lecture by talking about that: she originally studied medicine and anatomy, eventually moving from medical practice to academia. Meanwhile, she also started getting involved in archaeological excavations, which led to her appearing on the TV series Time Team. After that, she became a co-presenter of the BBC series Coast, and has continued to present many different scientific and historical documentaries ever since. She has also published several books; earlier this year, I read her book Tamed: Ten Species that Changed Our World, which talks about the histories of nine domesticated animal and plant species, with humans themselves being the tenth species covered. It was certainly very inspiring to learn about the unexpected directions that a person’s career can end up going in when they have enthusiasm and seek out the right opportunities; and how someone can become an authority on a range of subjects, when the educational system generally tries to keep those subjects in separate boxes.
For the rest of the lecture, Roberts talked about the history of humans in Britain – starting with the presence of Homo antecessor in England 900,000 years ago, all the way to the Normans – and gave examples of the most relevant and curious archaeological finds within the various eras and ages. I found all this very interesting, particularly the earlier finds from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic, and felt encouraged to learn more about it. The evening concluded with a Q&A, where Roberts talked about such things as the different hominid species found in Britain, hopes for the future, and bringing different subject areas like science and art together, noting that science requires an element of creativity for the development of hypotheses.
More details about Professor Roberts’s lecture tour can be found at her website here. Thank you to Alice Roberts and Waterside for a brilliant evening!