Shaftesbury Archaeologist Will Get Laughs From The Past At Fringe

Julian Richards is a respected authority on archaeology – but he is turning entertainer for his Shaftesbury Fringe show, which offers a different kind of groundbreaking experience.

“It will be a departure for me,” admitted Julian. He has presented a TV series on Vikings for BBC2, broadcast on Radio 4 and has hosted many talks about his Stonehenge research.More recently he has been working on Shaftesbury Abbey’s SAVED project. But his Fringe session, ‘A Career In Ruins’, will share some of his funniest experiences from a lifetime of work in an often serious and studious subject.

“A career in ruins – that was a very appropriate term to use, because of the two definitions of career,” said Julian. “It can either be a progression through what you choose to do for work or heading downhill out of control. I invite people to decide which one of those it’s going to be.”

Julian Richards

He’s certainly got many professional experiences to draw from during his talk. “I’ve been in archaeology now for nearly fifty years and it’s been tremendous fun and exciting discovering things. But there are amusing elements to it as well. That’s a side to it I’ve always enjoyed,” said Julian.

His show, surprisingly, includes a routine on toilets and ‘Snot’. Julian will explain how he developed a strong dislike for chemical toilets when camping at archaeological sites during his early career.

Snot refers to his upbringing in the East Midlands. “Snot was a Viking. He was the founder of Nottingham. It was originally ‘Snottingham’, so that’s where I grew up. That’s where I did my first digging,” he said.

Most archaeologists are expected to grab a spade and dig down at some point during their career. Julian’s presentation will share some practical tips and experiences. “It does involve a live shovelling demonstration as well, because there is an art to shovelling, which I don’t think people appreciate. I do like to be able to demonstrate this. It is easier here (at the Abbey) than when you are trying to do it on stage, which I’ve done a couple of times. It means that I have a lot of sand to clear up afterwards,” he laughed.

As part of his show, Julian will present his preferred shovelling techniques. “You can do it in an artistic way – the backflip, the double backflip. Come along and see.”

You can expect Julian to talk about his work with test pits and there might be some stories from his time in telly, too – although he might not go as far as digging the dirt on the names he worked with. “I’d like to think that it’s entertainment for all the family. It’s quite a change because normally I do a lot of very serious lectures about serious topics. It’s quite nice sometimes to lighten up a bit,” he smiled.

Julian Richards’ 30-minute talk takes place in the Shaftesbury Abbey Gardens at 2.30pm on Saturday 6th July.