Archaeologist Maria Theresa shares precious artefacts in an entertaining talk for fellow residents
Archaeologist and former university lecturer, Maria Theresa, was the guest speaker at The Coombs care home in Coleford for talk drawing on her extensive professional expertise. Maria used two mysterious artefacts to intrigue listeners at the care home run by The Orders of St John Care Home (OSJCT) where she lives now.
Ninety-seven-year-old Maria Theresa Gilles Starkie, who had an Italian father and an Austrian mother, moved to The Coombs in October 2020. She is related to aristocrats and often shares stories from her diverse and interesting life employees and residents. Maria worked as an English teacher and went on archaeology talks and digs around the world.
At the talk, residents were invited to touch and guess the nature of two specimens which Maria Theresa displayed. To her delight, no one guessed correctly, and Maria Theresa was able to reveal that the items were: fossilised poo, known as coprolite, originally from a shark like fish; and a fossilised pinecone, from a monkey puzzle tree.
The cone was related to a specific variety of the tree, only grown in a small area of South America. The fossilised cone is thought to be the only one of its kind in the UK.
Maria Theresa is delighted to keep them in her possession and show people as she remembers back to her time as an archaeologist. She said: “I really enjoyed giving the talk, I like to share my experience because not everyone has been lucky like me. You don’t have to be anything special; anyone can do it; you just need to be interested.”
Activities Coordinator, Lyn Callow, said: “Maria is a real character and we love her. Her talk was wonderful. As soon as she started speaking, the residents were drawn in and fascinated by her specialities.”