Biography

Portrait of Nick HanksNick Hanks MA CAIfA is currently researching the use of space in religious buildings and other ritual spaces mainly using permeability mapping (initial results published by the Association of Social Anthropologists in 2012), gathering ritual theory that can be useful for practitioners and writing up previous landscape archaeology and historical research.

He is a member of CPASE (Contemporary Paganism and Alternative Spiritualities in Europe) academic research group and BASR (British Association for the Study of Religions). He is a recognised teacher at the University of Bristol, UK, and has given lectures at other universities. He studied Archaeology at Bristol University and Drama at Warwick University, UK.

He is supporting this research by wider reading of scientific research on the human universals, the mind and cognitive biases, the effects and origins of ritual practice, and philosophy. He is also drawing on his ritual experience as a former Gardnerian Wiccan High Priest, a lapsed member of OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids), an occasional attendee at a Unitarian meeting, and a member of the occasionally performing Ragged Heroes Mummers. Currently he adopts no label, nor title, nor does he identify with any group or tradition. His ritual practice now consists merely of mindfulness meditation. He takes inspiration from science, nature and the Tao Teh Ching (as translated by Herrymon Maurer).

He is currently working for Historic England (formerly part of English Heritage) on GIS, heritage data systems (such as the National Heritage List for England and Pastscape) and giving training. He has carried out historical and archaeological research  for The National Trust and Natural England, at many sites including Tyntesfield, Hardy’s Cottage, and Dunster Castle. The results of which were produced as reports, web pages, databases and as CD-ROMs. (This work continues on a voluntary basis.) He also designed a database system that stores all the historical data and documents about an historic house and grounds.

He was a founding director of the community archaeology Slaughterbridge Training Excavation Project (STEP) and the Tintagel Environs Survey Project (TESP), with Dr Niall Finneran of Winchester University, UK.

He gives talks and leads guided walks for groups and societies. As part of Time and Tide Taletellers he leads a regular ghost walk and themed storytelling walks around the historic sites of Bristol. Also for many years he has been writing and performing guided walks at historic sites across the west country, and along the Thames Path and Ridgeway, as part of Longshanks and Talesman (managed by Catspaw). They also wrote and recorded a radio series.

He has provided historical research for Production Designer Simon Bowles for several feature films including Talos the MummyWing Commander and The Lighthouse.

He also worked as a music promoter with his brother Simon Hanks at the Fleece and Firkin in Bristol in the late 1980s featuring artists such as Bad Manners, Carter, Flash Harry, K-Passa, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Labi Siffre, Red Jasper, Pressgang, The Morrigan, Rita Lynch, Rog Patterson, Frank Sidebottom and Huw Lloyd-Langton. He also published a music magazine called Red Guitar.

He was a Postman for ten years at the main sorting office in Bristol.

He enjoys walking, is fascinated by landscape and watches the wonder of the ever changing sky. He also messes about on the bowed psaltery and hammered dulcimer.

He has dyslexia and consequently is quicker at reading the spatial than the textual.