Past: Raising Horizons (Exhibition)

Highlighting women in geoscience past and present, the exhibition will be on public display at the Geological Society, with educational events at the Society of Antiquaries of London Burlington House

A collaboration between Leonora Saunders and Trowelblazers has created a stunning re-imagining of fourteen historic women from archaeology, geology and palaeontology – including 19th-century Mary Anning, known as the “world’s greatest fossil hunter”.

The Raising Horizons exhibition aims to bring to life women from the past at the same time as highlighting contemporary ‘trowel-blazers’. Ranging from the 1830s through to the 1960s, each historic woman is posed by her modern counterpart.

Photographer Leonora Saunders’ captivating images represent a moment in time from the lives of each historic individual. Working with TrowelBlazers, an organisation run by three archaeologists and a palaeobiologist, both famous and little-known women are paired with a range of diverse individuals working today from different sectors and at varied career levels.

‘Come Dig With Me’, by the Harris Academy Bermondsey


On Monday, 20 February, the Society of Antiquaries hosted an event for the Harris Academy Bermondsey. A group of female students, including the HAB Feminist Society, took a tour of the Raising Horizons exhibition at the Geological Society, and were then welcomed to the Society of Antiquaries for a unique learning experience.

The HAB Feminst Society presented ‘Come Dig With Me: And Adventure into the Forgotten Archaeological, Paleontological and Geological Herstory’ to their peers and a panel of professional trowel-blazing women. ‘Come Dig With Me’ (based of course on the popular Channel 4 programme ‘Come Dine With Me’) was a short skit – researched, written, produced and performed by the young women of the Feminist Society – that highlighted the history and lasting legacies of historic women. The figures presented included palaeontologist Annie Montague Alexander, archaeologist Gertrude Bell (one of the first female Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London), palaeontologist Mignon Talbot, geologist Mary Ann Mantell, archaeologist Zelia Nuttal, and archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy.

Following the theatrical presentation, students heard from six trowel-blazing professionals about their paths into their fields, including: Professor Carenza Lewis FSA (University of Lincoln), Jessica Bryan (Museum of London Archaeology), Dr Rachel Bynoe (Natural History Museum), Dr Amara Thornton FSA (University College London), Professor Anjali Goswami (University College London, Co-Director of the Centre for Ecology), and Professor Sue Hamilton FSA (Director of the Institute of Archaeology).

After the presentations, the students were broken up into six smaller groups and engaged in a ‘speed networking’ activity, with the opportunity to sit and ask questions of the professional women they had heard from.