Category Archives: Travels

‘Jacquetta Hawkes? Portugal?’

One of the joys of archive work is that new objects are always coming to light!  Witness a recent discovery by the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford. Clearing the basement for building work, staff found a mysterious box containing flint arrowheads and other archaeological finds.  It was tantalisingly labelled ‘Jacquetta Hawkes?  Portugal?‘.

To cut the story short, the puzzled labeller was right.  Investigation, including a look at our Jacquetta Hawkes archive, reveals that the objects were presented to Jacquetta during her 1949 lecture tour of Portugal.  I’ve been meaning to write about this trip for a while.  We have a candid report by Jacquetta on her experiences plus letters from the new colleagues she met there.  So look out for that piece!  Meanwhile, you can learn more about the contents of the mystery box in ‘The Jacquetta Hawkes Collection, Portugal, 1949’, a blog post by undergraduate Dalva Gerberon, who studied them as part of her fieldwork.


96. A Pattern of Invasions and Occupations: Jacquetta Hawkes and the Archaeology of Jersey

100 Objects

The Channel Island of Jersey is extraordinarily rich in archaeological remains.  Key sites include La Cotte de St Brelade (a cave filled with Neanderthal stone tools and the bones of mammoths and rhinos) and La Hougue Bie, a prehistoric grave mound topped by a medieval chapel.  Jacquetta Hawkes explored this heritage in her first book: The Archaeology of the Channel Islands: Volume II The Bailiwick of Jersey.

Volume I, covering the archaeology of Guernsey, had been published by Methuen in 1928.  Its author, Thomas Kendrick, worked at the British Museum, as did Jacquetta’s husband Christopher.  Kendrick had done much of the research for a second volume, on Jersey, by 1934, but “an increase in other work, and a growing distaste for the stones and bones of prehistory” meant that he was glad to put the task into Jacquetta’s “capable hands”.

Jacquetta had recently married Christopher; both were becoming known…

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Jacquetta and J.B.’s Rainbow Journey

This week’s entry in the 100 Objects exhibition is one of Jacquetta’s most interesting publications: Journey Down a Rainbow (1955).  In this account of a visit to New Mexico in 1954, she shared the narration with her new husband J.B. Priestley, who visited Texas.  The couple wanted to examine the impact of technology on society via the surviving prehistoric cultures of New Mexico and the growing consumer society of Texas: the fascinating results make for a highly readable and thought-provoking book.  More detail and pictures via the exhibition link above.

Sandstone Grottoes

Jacquetta Hawkes helped her readers see the world around them in a new way, by sharing her scientific and imaginative identification with the past and nature.  Since reading her works and becoming custodian of her amazing archive, I have had several experiences where I realise that Jacquetta has changed the way I think.  Here is the most recent.  I’ll write about some of the others in future posts.

Amazing  grottos, near Lagos on the Algarve

Amazing grottos, near Lagos on the Algarve

Visiting the Algarve, I noticed the stunning colours of the sandstone cliffs: butter yellow, ochre, sunset red, and how they sagged and slumped like old cakes, and were being eroded into fabulous grottoes.  I thought about how these rocks formed,  how they looked long ago, how they would change in future, and contrasted them with the limestone cliffs I saw elsewhere on that stunning coastline.  I don’t think I would have noticed or thought about these things before reading A Land.

“The White Goddess from Cambridge”

Jacquetta Hawkes and Robert Graves, Mallorca, September 1950

Jacquetta Hawkes and Robert Graves, Mallorca, September 1950

“The White Goddess from Cambridge: Jacquetta Hawkes and Robert Graves” will be the title of a lecture by Dr Christine Finn, biographer of Jacquetta Hawkes and Writer-Fellow at the University of Bradford.  The lecture will be part of the 10th International Robert Graves Conference, which is held 6-10 July 2010 in Mallorca, Spain, where Graves lived from 1929 until his death.

Jacquetta and Robert Graves were in contact from the 1940s.  Both poets, both fascinated by myth and the classical world, they would have had much to discuss.  In 1950, after lecturing to the International Archaeology Congress, she visited him and his family in Deya, Mallorca.  She took her son Nicolas with her.  The Jacquetta Hawkes Archive includes a letter from Graves to Jacquetta about the practicalities of the visit, taxis and so on.  Dr Finn will be retracing their journey as much as possible on her way to the conference.

Past, Present, Man, Nature: 7. Mrs Pro and Mr Con on tour

Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.

An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.

Intro | Credits | Previous | Next

7. Mrs Pro and Mr Con on tour

Jacquetta and JBP at cafe table

Jacquetta and JBP at cafe table

Travel was a major part of the Priestleys’ lives, for business and pleasure.  Jacquetta travelled abroad reporting for the Observer and other newspapers, and, as increasingly eminent people, both travelled to many conferences and events.   Their journeys are documented by many photographs, like this one showing them at a café table in Greece.  Jacquetta’s Archive is full of 35 mm slides of Taormina, Mexico, Amsterdam, Trinidad, Poland, Palestine …

Flight bulletin

Flight bulletin

This flight bulletin from a trip to Portugal for a lecture tour in 1949 is a rare survival in the Archive of the ephemera of travel.

Journey down a Rainbow

Journey down a Rainbow

One of the most interesting results of the Priestleys’ travels was “Journey down a rainbow” (1955), in which Priestley analysed 1950s USA while Jacquetta responded with delight to the survival of ancient pueblo culture in New Mexico.

Another shared piece, an unpublished article about a trip to Ceylon from 1970, gives us a feel for the roles adopted by the Priestleys abroad: Mrs Pro (Jacquetta) revelling in the “vegetable sculpture” of the paddy fields and the “huge glistening leaves” of the jungle, Mr Con (J.B.) complaining that “I’ve seen a fair number of jungles now, and I don’t want any of them”.