Memories of Gordon Childe

24th May 2014

Laila Haglund


Another friend from earlier days was the Sydney Professor of Archaeology, James Stewart. Childe visited him and his wife, Eve, a number of times, for a week or so, at Mount Pleasant, their estate near Bathurst, just west of the Blue Mountains. He met there another guest, a young woman student of classical archaeology, and was greatly intrigued by the fact that she smoked a pipe. He insisted on teaching her how to clean a pipe with a blade of grass, as the most economical method. Great was his embarrassment when the blade broke and got stuck in the pipe stem, and had to be removed with fine wire! Childe also talked to her about his ideas for the endless possibilities for the study of Australian prehistory. He felt there was much to do in this neglected field, and he wrote to Mary Alice Evatt in August:
I could not at my age work up an interest in it myself but I’m sure it’s something worth studying and preserving. There are only 3 or 4 people working on it at all seriously with rather inadequate training and hopelessly inadequate resources. One university—probably ANU—ought to have a professorship or at least a readership in Australian or Oceanic archaeology. And antiquities ought to be preserved—particularly the ‘Aboriginal’ rock pictures.
(Green, Sally 1981 Prehistorian. A Biography of V. Gordon Childe, p.149. Moonraker Press: Bradford-on-Avon).

While I was staying with Eve and James Stewart at Mount Pleasant near Bathurst in 1956–57, Gordon Childe came to stay several times. The visits would last a week or so; the last visit was shortly before his death. At that time I was a student in Latin, Greek and Ancient History and not really aware of Childe’s greatness. But I did my best to entertain him as one would entertain a fellow guest. I remember being both amused and bemused at first.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Haglund, L.
Memories of Gordon Childe
June 1990
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