Henry has had so many jobs that to use the word ‘career’ accurately, it would have to be employed as a verb rather than a noun. However, web design and development have provided a continuous thread for the last 12 years and more. A spell as a cartographer supplied the background knowledge to work comfortably with maps, GIS systems and databases, though he’s not particularly fond of the last two. While doing a stint as a sub-editor for BBCi he edited the tiniest fraction of a contribution from Douglas Adams – an act which will in all likelihood remain his proudest literary achievement.
Having said that he is currently working on a book concerning prehistoric Britain, due to be published in June. If that indeed proves to be the case, then the Douglas Adams editing episode will have some competition. Since 2008 he has also been IT manager and trustee for the Council for British Archaeology South West
Henry holds degrees in history and archaeology, and is intending to find somewhere convenient to put them.
Digital Digging was created in early 2008 by Henry Rothwell. It was designed to be a platform for displaying the results of blending archaeology with emerging web technologies. It was also done out of a sense of disappointment that (at the time) there wasn’t a great deal of reliable archaeological material available on the web. The catalyst was Google updating their map datasets in late 2007. This resulted in monuments and sites in rural areas becoming visible for the first time, rather than being indeterminate lumps in a rather murky soup. Chris Webster, HER manager for Somerset, was very generous with the data under his command, which allowed DD to combine the HER data with Google Maps, and provide a background for other features.
Experiments with digital reconstructions were next. These were initially created with Google’s excellent (and free) Sketchup program. Many of the models were (and still are) relatively simple recreations of what some of our more impressive timber circles may have looked like when they were fresh. The website’s reputation received a boost at this time, when Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine, asked me to write a few hundred words for the ‘On the Web’ section of the Sept/Oct 2008 edition.
The next step was to encourage archaeologist to allow their data to be presented in novel ways on the web. One of the first to answer the call was Dr. Martin Green, who was very generous in allowing large parts of his book A Landscape Revealed – 10,000 Years on a Chalk Farm to be turned into a feature about the archaeology of Down Farm. The same applies to Professor Timothy Darvill of Southampton University, who followed suit with his book Long Barrows of the Cotswolds (and surrounding areas), the gazetteer of which became the Cotswold-Severn Long Barrows feature. Dr. Henry Chapman, director of the the Visual & Spacial Technology Centre (VISTA) at Birmingham University also played the game handsomely with the contribution of his essay Where Rivers Meet – The Catholme Neolithic Timber Complex, which got the full DD treatment. Dr. Stuart Prior of Bristol University yielded to an unforgivable amount of pestering for his dissertation work on the reconstruction of the Meare Heath Bow, which has proved to be a very popular feature. Dr. Anne Teather of Chester University wrote an original article on timber circles for Digital Digging when it operated in almost utter obscurity, an act which earned her a large debt of gratitude.