Beth Thomas works as World Heritage Site Coordinator at Stonehenge. A love of her degree and an aptitude for operational management led her to the position.
|Elisabeth (Beth) Thomas (nee Cavanagh)
|Ancient and Medieval History
|Year of Graduation
Your time at the University
I really enjoyed my time at the University and the many opportunities it offered. I took a joint honours course with the Classics and History Departments. The class library was our common room - not a lot of work took place there.
The Classics Society talks took place there in the evenings and the most famous speakers we had were Enoch Powell and Norman McCaig, amongst many others. We also put on Greek and Latin plays in translation in the Spring and held some rowdy Christmas meals in the University Staff Club on Chambers Street. We had a really close knit group.
I did a lot of singing whilst a student with University groups such as the Edinburgh University Singers directed by John Grundy and then John Kitchen. I used to go with 50p which would buy a half pint in those days. I was also privileged to sing with St Giles Cathedral Choir with Herrick Bunney which led to many other opportunities. I enjoyed the fact that unlike some of my friends elsewhere on campus universities you could be both part of the town and gown communities.
I worked for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in the box office for my last two summers and they gave me my first proper job after graduation.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I wanted to work in arts administration so gained valuable experience with the Tattoo and then got a trainee manager post with a company who owned a chain of theatres across the country starting off in Torquay - about as far from Edinburgh as you can go!
I returned to Edinburgh to work at the Queen’s Hall, progressing to General Manager. This gave me a fantastic range of operational management skills.
Work is important but the experiences you can gain whilst at University stay with you forever and hard to find once you start in the real world!
In 2003 I moved back to the south coast, this time based at Portland Castle to work as an area property manager for English Heritage and I finally got to use my ancient and medieval history, managing properties ranging from prehistoric to the 18th century in the South West and the West Midlands such as Maiden Castle, Old Sarum, Kenilworth Castle and the Ironbridge.
The coalition government cuts in 2010 forced a major restructuring of English Heritage so I decided to take a change in direction and I have been the World Heritage Site Coordinator for Stonehenge since 2011.
It provides a great deal of variety from thinking about the impact of climate change, designing websites and newsletters, to how best to work with natural environment bodies to enhance the landscape around the monuments in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.
I am currently writing the first joint Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Management Plan with a colleague, so I will finally be published!
Take advantage of the many opportunities there are in Edinburgh both within the University and across the city. Work is important but the experiences you can gain whilst at University stay with you forever and hard to find once you start in the real world!