‘IA NOW ACCEPTED UNIVERSITY DISCIPLINE’ –
Interview with PROFESSOR PALMER …
Professor Marilyn Palmer (now Upstone) read History at Oxford University and spent
time in teacher training at Loughborough University.
She joined Leicester University, firstly as a historian, then as an archaeologist,
becoming Britain’s first Professor of Industrial Archaeology and Head of the
School of Archaeology and Ancient History in 2000.
She was awarded the MBE for services to industrial archaeology and industrial
heritage in 2015.
The Bulletin put some questions to the inaugural Angus Buchanan Lecturer.
The full lecture will appear in the Journal.
How and why did you become interested in IA?
While on my teacher training course in the University of Leicester after graduation from Oxford, I
also took part in an evening class on reading local documents and local history. I then went on to
take a three-year Certificate course in archaeology in the then excellent University of Leicester’s
Adult Education department, which was sadly axed, like so many others, a few years ago.
My then husband and I spent most of our weekends and holidays walking in upland areas of
Wales, Derbyshire and so on, and I became interested in the various remains we came across, mostly connected with metal mining. This was in the 1970s, when industrial archaeology was in its
infancy and the main objective was to discover what remained from our industrial past.
I then began taking evening classes myself in the study of industrial archaeology, alongside my
university teaching in both history and then archaeology. There were several of us doing this at
that time, including, of course, both Angus Buchanan and Neil Cossons here in Bath and Bristol,
together with John Crompton on Lancashire, Edwin Course at Southampton.
I then wanted my adult students to experience different landscapes from those in the East
Midlands and so took them on field courses, both in building surveying and excavation, in Wales
and Cornwall – I had to learn both techniques myself on the job!
This resulted in various publications on these field courses and the start of my various publications
in industrial archaeology. I did not neglect my home area of the East Midlands and one of my
early, and most difficult, publications, was writing a Shire Album on Framework Knitting – it was
very difficult to condense all the technical information needed for this in 34 pages. I am pleased to
say that that book is still in circulation.
Read the full interview and much more in this Bulletin – free with BIAS membership.