Archaeology South-East


ASE Takes Stock: Dominic Perring, ASE Director

21 April 2020

What's the day-to-day life of our director, and how has lockdown changed that? Dominic looks back on last year with ASE and forward to the future in his Taking Stock!

Dom stands with colleagues after a day surveying on the Shanxi project

Usual day-to-day

No such thing!  Most days are a mix of trouble-shooting, forward planning and office routine (answering emails). I spend quite a bit of time travelling between the ASE offices by rail and get a fair bit done on the train where there are fewer distractions. Staffing and financial issues take up most attention, but I also enjoy looking into the future of archaeology and think about how we can get ahead of the curve with new research.

Current work and situation

The introduction of a furlough scheme for ASE staff has taken up most these last couple of weeks.  This has involved me in a lot of Teams meetings, but progress has been astounding. Decision-making at UCL is not always this quick! From my point of view, the main trick for a good Teams meeting is to make sure that my ten-year-old is fully distracted beforehand, and preferably not sitting under the table.  

Looking back on last year

This time last year I was attending project meetings in China where our temple recording Shanxi project is underway. Although a ‘Centre for Applied Archaeology’ project, it fully involves the ASE team (with particular thanks to Karol) drawing on our skills in photogrammetric and UAV survey. We were recording Buddhist and Daoist temples at risk of falling apart, or being transformed by restoration, making 3D models to publish on the web. The best moment was when I put on our Virtual-Reality headsets back in the office, and walked back into a temple where I could touch the cobwebs. The technology is going to completely change the way we record archaeological sites and buildings. I cannot wait until we can hold VR tours of some of our recent UK sites. But a big shout-out too to our supervisors who showed me around the amazing discoveries at Walberton, Whitechapel, Red Lodge, Soham and elsewhere. There are some fascinating stories waiting to be told when the results come in.

Looking forward to post-lockdown

My inner nerd is looking forward to ‘quality time’ writing the finishing chapters of a book on Roman London that is now overdue. I got stuck in the mid-3rd century, but it is hard to worry about the effects of the Plague of Cyprian on London’s ancient economy right now. Otherwise I am sure my hopes are the same as everyone else’s: being busy at work and busy in life. A life with restaurants, pubs, trips and holidays. Perhaps even football, if Spurs can ever pull themselves together.