Episode 26 “The REAL Game of Thrones”



Hey everybody! I’m back for the 26th episode of the Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty, and this is a pretty cool one, it’s time for the “REAL Game of Thrones!”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably noticed that it’s Game of Thrones time once again. So while you’re catching up on life in Westeros this season why not enjoy a bit of the history behind George R. R. Martin’s addictive series. While there’s lots to choose from, this episode focuses on the links between the Lannister/Stark feud and the English monarchy during the Wars of the Roses.


As I mention in the podcast, my inspiration for this episode came from the excellent docu-history special “The Real History Behind Game of Thrones” from the 5th season Blu-ray special features. It’s a great look at the Wars of the Roses and GoT with interviews with Martin and historians like cutie McCutie Dan Jones. I suggest you go buy the Blu-ray to have access to the special, but I will add that it may or may not be available on YouTube by some dubious means which I don’t in any way condone. But you know us history lovers, we do what we’ve gotta do.

I’ve taken some examples from the special and done my own research to expand upon them, so you can use the podcast as a companion to the special. Or, just listen to me because I’m awesomer. I will warn you that I have mentioned events from the series through the end of season 4, so major SPOILER ALERT, you will be spoiled if you listen- and believe me- you don’t want to be spoiled, so maybe don’t listen if you haven’t seen the show yet. If you watch the special there are spoilers through season 5, so be ready for it and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Finally, here is a handy chart of the royal lineages most relevant to the history and the podcast from the Wars of the Roses. Study it, you will be thankful when I’ve mentioned the names Edward, Henry, and Richard about 500 times each.

plantagenetsCredit: Royal Family History @ http://www.britroyals.com/plantagenet.htm


Now here are some links for funsies:

Dan Jones’ Book The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors

George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire Series

Game of Thrones Season 5 Blu-ray featuring The Real History of Game of Thrones special

The Hollow Crown series on Netflix

(I’m not being paid to peddle any of these things, but you might enjoy them and it only feels right to recommend them after referring to each in the podcast)

So there you have it, sit back and enjoy this badass Game of Thrones podcast. Comparisons will be made, heads will be lost, and spoilers will abound. So beware, but enjoy the awesomeness that is the REAL Game of Thrones!

McNiven OUT!

Medieval Scottish Village Brought to Light in New Investigation

Hey lads and lasses! Check out this super fun article by Ben Miller of Culture24.org.uk “

“Archaeologists find ‘lost’ medieval village full of pottery, coins and bones in Scottish Borders”


Miller reports on the discovery of a “lost” Medieval town in Southern Scotland, likely spanning from the 15th to 17th centuries, and associated with the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645. Recovery also includes artifacts from 18th and 19th century activity at the site.

The site report on this project (also linked at the bottom of the article) by Bob Will, Alan Hunter Blair, and others, is a really good read. As someone with a moderate obsession with all things Scottish (my ancestors were in Scotland at the time of the battle of Philiphaugh), I’m always super excited to read about sites like this.

It’s also a great example of how a multi-disciplinary approach can be really successful on historical sites. The location of the battlefield was derived through documentary research in conjunction with archaeological survey by Historic Scotland, the University of Stirling (under Dr. T Turpie), and the Center for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. Following work on the battlefield component, a cultural resource survey by Alan Hunter Blair for GUARD Archaeology, Ltd. in preparation for the construction of a pipeline, brought to light the extent of Medieval occupation in the area.

Now (happily), the pipeline has been rerouted and this exciting site can be studied and commemorated properly! I think this may require a celebratory scotch or two 😉

v0_master (1)(Photo 1: Fieldwork being undertaken at the site Photo 2: A spindle whorl recovered in the excavations. All photos © Guard Archaeology Ltd)

Episode 5 “I See Dead People”


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Welcome to Episode 5 of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty, “I See Dead People!”

And boy do I ever, well, at least while researching for this episode! I tried but I just couldn’t avoid more mention of mummies, but I think after our discussion of archaeological execution sites and bog bodies you won’t mind a boring old mummy or two!

The discovery of a pit full of 14th century German execution victims is why today is all about death, so I felt it necessary to delve into the world of bog bodies as well- since who doesn’t love those, am I right?! Don’t worry, in today’s shorty news I figured I should talk about something full of sunshine and rainbows to make up for the macabre first act of the podcast- so I briefly consider the merits of space archaeology…. yes, space archaeology.

Oh yeah, and if you were planning on doing a field school this summer you should get your booty on it asap! Check out shovelbums.com, archaeologyfieldwork.com, about.com, archaeological.org, digs.bib-arch.org and other similar such sites for field work opportunities around the world for this summer!

And for your viewing pleasure here are some pictures of well known bog bodies and a naturally preserved Incan mummy… and please show them some respect and don’t go posting them on your facebook page!


Tollund Man – 4th century BCE, Denmark








Courtesy of Sven Rosborn





Tollund man —> the rope that was used to kill him is still around his neck!









“Red Franz”- 3-5th century CE, Germany

  <—- Throat was sliced and stabbed in shoulder, hair turned red from bog acids




Courtesy of Robert Clark



Sergeant Boris Lazarev- Russia, 1943 —>









Incan child-Chris Openshaw

<—- Incan child sacrifice,  16th century CE, Chile







Courtesy of Chris Openshaw

German execution remains- Ben Behnke (Der Spiegel)


Remains from the Alkersleben execution victims –>






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