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Chapple, R. M. 2013 The 2014 Bob Chapple Archaeological Essay Prize in association with Wordwell Books. Blogspot post

Chapple, R. M. 2013 The 2014 Bob Chapple Archaeological Essay Prize in association with Wordwell Books. Blogspot post

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Published by Robert M Chapple
Chapple, R. M. 2013 The 2014 Bob Chapple Archaeological Essay Prize in association with Wordwell Books. Blogspot post
Chapple, R. M. 2013 The 2014 Bob Chapple Archaeological Essay Prize in association with Wordwell Books. Blogspot post

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Published by: Robert M Chapple on Jul 17, 2014
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 The 2014 Bob Chapple Archaeological Essay Prize in association with Wordwell Books
 Originally posted online on 6 December 2013 at rmchapple.blogspot.com (http://rmchapple.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-2014-bob-chapple-archaeological.html) 
Had my dad (Robert F ‘Bob’ Chapple) still been with us, he’d have been 72 today (6th
 of December 2013). I think he'd have had quite a bit of fun ... and cake ... and probably Jameson  whiskey. Unfortunately, December holds another, sadder anniversary for my family. A mere
two days’ time
- the 8th of this month - will mark three years since his sudden passing. I still miss him and not a day goes by without my thinking of him, and wishing that I still had the  benefit of his insight, mentoring, company, and (occasionally) his sense of humour.
Hadleigh excavation 1958. excavation of furnace by James Perkins + ?
 When my dad left school he followed a number of career paths (cook, office junior, and RAF aerial photography applicant), before eventually finding that he had an interest in, and vast aptitude for, accountancy. By the time of his death, he had established himself as an immensely talented, respected and trusted accountant in the west of Ireland. Along the way he worked for General Monitors, Crown Controls, and EMI 
, before branching out to run his own business for nearly four decades. A world away from archaeology it would appear.
 As a boy, he had attended  Woolverstone Hall School, near Ipswich, in Suffolk. During the 1958
school year (he’d have been 16 at the time) my dad worked as one of the excavation team on ‘Doc.’ Richardson’s archaeological excavations at the 1st century AD Roman Villa at
Richardson was the school’s Latin Master and had co
-opted a number of interested, willing, and available students to shovel earth and push barrows for part of the summer. There was no actual pay for the labour, merely all the windfall apples the young students could carry
. As
far as I’m aware, pretty much the only possession of my dad’s to survive from that early time in his life was a small photo album. Among the shots of the school’s boats, the cricket pavilion,
and the nissen huts (survivors from WWII), there are three photos from that excavation [The collection was featured on the Retronaut site]. They were all taken in the period from May to July 1958 on a borrowed  Voightlander Vito B 35mm camera and developed and printed in the
Darkroom in Orwell House at the school (named for the adjacent river, not the novelist). My
father was one of the founders of the school’s Photographic Club and was heavily involved in
the school branch of the Sea Cadets, the latter explaining the maritime theme of many of the
images. Of the archaeological photographs, two are general ‘working shots’ of the excavation
in progress and the other (previously unpublished) is a view of the furnace that generated heat
for the villa’s hypocaust system
. The excavation of this important site (there is only one other known Roman Villa in Suffolk, at Castle Hill, Ipswich) was never published and these images take on a special resonance and become not merely family mementoes of a long-ago summer, but valuable clues to our greater, shared past. As a child, I have distinct memories of pouring over these photographs and feeling a fascination and wonderment for the past. I have no doubt in my mind that their presence in my family home played a crucial role in my making archaeology my full-time profession for two decades.
Hadleigh excavation 1958. James Perkins, ? & Doc Richardson (beret)
 When I published a monograph on the excavation of a Middle Bronze Age cemetery at Oakgrove, Co. Derry~Londonderry , I
dedicated the work to my father as ‘the first archaeologist in the family’. I had hesitated before publication in letting him know about it –
 having initially thought it should be a surprise. However, just to be on the safe side, I wanted to clear it with him and ensure that I had his blessing. He was quite overcome and told me that he would be honoured to accept the accolade. In retrospect, I am very glad I chose to talk to him about it in advance as I never had the opportunity afterwards
 as I said, he died on the 8th
of December 2010 and my author’s copies arrived from the publishers on Christmas Eve.
It was heart-breaking for me to open that parcel so soon after his death and see his name hovering before me on the dedication page.
Hadleigh excavation 1958. Portion of hypocaust
Time is a wonderful healer. Three years later, I still miss him
 I always will
 but the keenness and pain in my mourning of him has receded. Now I miss him less for myself and more for his
grandchildren. I’ve often
repeated his quip that if he’d known how much fun grandchildren
 over actual children
he’d have had those first. I think he would have been so proud
of all of them, and marvelled at the fine boys and girls they are turning into with every passing
 week. This time has given me the opportunity to ponder on some ‘what ifs’. Aside from  wondering if his condition had been diagnosed in time would he still be with us, I’m drawn to
the fact that he was a prodigiously talented accountant, much beloved by his clients for finding all available (legal) means of saving their money from the tax man. He had a great mind for
detail and loved to read, analyse, research, and debate. I’ve thought that, had circumstances
 been slightly different, he could easily have pursued a career in archaeology. I believe that he  would have made as remarkably fine a practitioner in this discipline as he did in accountancy. He certainly had a keen interest in many aspects of archaeology and history throughout his
adult life, so it’s no
t too far-fetched to imagine him as a professional in this field.
He may be gone, but this rumination has given me an idea. In memory of my father, I would like to introduce an Archaeological Essay Prize for undergraduate and postgraduate students. The competition will open to any registered student at any third level institution, conducting original research on any aspect of Irish archaeology as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree/diploma of any kind. The entry is to be in the form of an essay/paper (max 5000 words) outlining the research being conducted and its importance, relevance etc., along with results (expected, actual, emerging
) to be published on this blog.

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