I was born in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire (now Cumbria), England, in 1962. My father was originally from Plymouth, Devon, and worked as a naval engineer for the Ministry of Defence. This involved moving quite regularly, so that at the age of 6 months I moved to Bath, then at 3 or so to Gillingham, Kent, then at 11 back to Bath. I attended King Edward VIth School at Bath, a private boys school with a strong tradition of academic success. Largely thanks to their efforts, I got a place at Cambridge, where I divided my time between the unsuccessful pursuit of artistic/ and creative activities and the more successful study of Archaeology and Anthropology; oh, and an awful lot of time talking.
In 1984 I graduated and started working as an excavator on rescue sites in England and Scotland; after a couple years of this, I became an excavation supervisor at Dudley Castle as part of a large Manpower Services Commission job creation scheme. This was wound down in 1989, as the government focused more on training, and I then worked for three years at Castle Bromwich Hall, carrying out excavations in advance of the restoration of the 18th century garden (it’s open to the public: they have a website, but the archaeology’s not mentioned http://www.cbhgt.colebridge.net/ ) .
In 1991 I started work for the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust ( http://www.ggat.org.uk ), based in Swansea, and moved to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, a mining village on the southwest edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. My role at the Trust developed into management, and included preparing and editing large numbers of technical reports on work done for the planning process. This work is responsible for my obsession with accuracy and brevity in writing. My work also included field survey and site visits (I walked the entire southern coastline of Wales from Gower to Chepstow over a period of three years, looking at archaeological sites and assessing how likely they were to be eroded) which inevitably entailed long periods of quiet thought, and this awakened a renewed interest in writing poetry – but this time (unlike at Cambridge), poetry that made clear sense without irritating, boring or confusing the reader (and was therefore much harder to write).
In 2002, after being involved in GGAT’s work on the Newport medieval ship project, I looked for other areas where I could exploit and develop my skills at management, outreach, and web development, and so in January 2003 I started work at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, for the Archives Network Wales project ( http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info ).