about me crime writer, archaeologist

Kent Police visit

I’ve been involved with crime for over thirty years now. My first brush with the law came aged 12 when I was hauled in to the headquarters of Kent Constabulary! The record shows that my first successful venture into crime writing was an illustrated history of crime and punishment going back to Saxon times.

I still can’t be sure whether it was the trip on the skid pan, the ride on the police launch or the blood stains on the murder weapons in the police museum that left me with a fascination for all things criminal.

I am certain that I’ve always loved writing. The ability to conjure up a place, a long-dead person or a story from your imagination and share them with someone seems to me a magical process.

Nicola Ford is my crime writing alter ego. In a parallel existence I’m Dr Nick Snashall National Trust archaeologist at 'Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site'. If I’m not writing I’m never happier than when I have my head down a muddy hole waving a trowel about or shut in a museum archive with a collection of prehistoric artefacts.

Velim child skeleton

As an archaeologist I’ve dug on many sites in Britain and parts of Europe. It is a job which means I spend more time than most people thinking about the dead. I’ve sometimes been called upon to excavate human remains, a task which can reveal unexpected results.

In this photo I’m excavating a child’s skeleton at Velim Skalka in the Czech Republic. At this prehistoric ritual enclosure some ditches contain whole human skeletons, but some were disarticulated, thrown into the ditches along with a jumble of pottery and animal bones. Were they victims of a Bronze Age massacre?

Woodhenge excarnation postholes

People deal with death in many ways. Near Woodhenge I was digging an excarnation platform, that sat high above the River Avon in the Stonehenge landscape.

These huge postholes (I'm in the one at the top left) once held the large posts of a giant wooden structure where the remains of the dead were placed to de-flesh and begin their journey from amongst the living to the realm of the ancestors.

Inside Silbury Hill

As a writer I’ve got a pretty vivid imagination but as an archaeologist I’ve been fortunate that sometimes reality has exceeded even my wildest imaginings. I was involved with the recent work carried out by English Heritage to stabilise Silbury Hill and record its archaeology. Here I’m standing inside one of the now filled and sealed tunnels that were dug in 1968 to reach into the heart of the great mound.

Podcast linkIf you are interested in hearing more about the British Neolithic and my stone tools research this is a podcast of a public lecture I gave for the University of Bath:
Life and Death in the Neolithic Cotswolds (mp3)