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Aspiring marine archaeologist wins $6,000 scholarship

Xander Cook, right, accepts a Bermuda Historical Society scholarship award from John Cox and Shirley Pearman (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A scholarship that has been supported Bermudians researching the island’s history and culture for 25 years will now help a young marine archaeologist pursue his studies.

Xander Cook, 22, was presented with $6,000 by the Bermuda Historical Society last week at its Queen Street headquarters and museum.

Coming on the heels of four years at Cardiff University in Wales studying archaeology, Mr Cook said: “This will really help me in my studies this coming September, when I go off to the University of Southampton for my Master’s in maritime archaeology.

“My ultimate goal is come back to Bermuda and hopefully work at the National Museum of Bermuda, or any part of working with Bermuda’s history.”

Xander, from Paget, said uncovering the past went back to his childhood, adding: “I always liked digging stuff up.”

His interests were piqued in 2014 courtesy of the American archaeologist and historian Michael Jarvis, a keen researcher of the island’s history from the University of Rochester in New York.

“He came to the island looking for volunteers, and that’s when I found out how much I loved digging and archaeology itself,” Xander said.

The work began on Smith’s Island, St George’s, home of some of Bermuda's earliest settlements, where Christopher Carter, Edward Waters and Edward Chard camped from 1610 to 1612 while the rest of the passengers off the Sea Venture continued on to the New World.

More recently Xander has been working on Trunk Island in Harrington Sound.

He added: “I really want to work on conserving Bermuda’s history and finding more of it through archaeology.

“You hear a lot about historical buildings getting knocked down or repurposed, and there is a need for more local archaeologists.”

After getting into diving, Xander decided to combine the two interests for a degree in maritime archaeology.

Shirley Pearman, a member of the executive of the Bermuda Historical Society who helps administer the awards with vice-president John Cox, said Mr Cook was the 11th recipient in its history.

Historian Clarence Maxwell was the programme’s first awardee in 1996.

Ms Pearman explained there was “a dearth of financial assistance for students outside the business area”.

Andrew Bermingham, president of the society, added: “The awards have paid a pivotal role over these years funding some great candidates – you name them, we’ve had them.

“This promising young man adds to it, and we are proud to help support him on his way.”

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Published August 02, 2021 at 7:52 am (Updated August 02, 2021 at 7:35 am)

Aspiring marine archaeologist wins $6,000 scholarship

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