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The John (Jack) Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund

A black and white photograph of an old building

Bede College

John (Jack) Simpson Greenwell

John Simpson Greenwell came to Bede College, as it then was, as a student in 1945 and went on to work in education for the greater part of his life. His time at College was particularly happy and he spoke of it with great affection. John Simpson Greenwell, ‘Jack’ to his friends, passed away in January 2002 at the age of 73. His family have set up the present fund to commemorate the happy times he spent at Bede. It continues to offer support to members of our community.


Fund purpose

This fund offers bursaries to enable students at the College of St Hild and St Bede to further their studies or undertake additional activities that will enhance their understanding or open up new educational horizons. For example by supporting work towards projects, dissertations, or undertaking fieldwork or necessary overseas visits. The bursaries will be aimed primarily at students unable to fund these activities themselves.

The size of the bursaries varies according to the nature of the support being sought and the availability of resource in the fund.  You can see examples of the size and nature and specific purpose to which bursaries have been put below.


The Fund is open to all current students, under- and postgraduate, of the College of St Hild & St Bede.

Applicants must have the support of an academic supervisor who is willing to act as independent referee and provide an academic endorsement.

Please note, in addition to completing a monitoring form, upon completion of the funded activity, successful applicants may be requested to give a talk in College and/or write a short article to be included in a College publication, and will be required to agree to do so as a condition of their award.

 There is no limit on the number of awards that may be made in a year. They may range in size according to the support sought and availability of resource in the fund.



Applications are to be made annually (usually around February) in accordance with the opening and closing dates (usually around Easter) advertised by College and via the electronic forms made available to students.

Applications are reviewed and assessed by representatives of the Simpson family

Notification of success in application will be provided by representatives of the County Durham Community Fund who manage and dispense awards

Applicants will be asked to provide relevant and necessary personal details and particularly to indicate the purpose to which any support will be put and its intended benefit to them.

Yuqing Shen's Archaeological Fieldtrip

It is a great pleasure to be invited to share my archaeological experience that has been supported by the John Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund. Life is not easy for everyone under the pandemic, and it increased more than a little challenge faced by people who needed to do archaeological surveys in different countries. Not only are the direct flights been in meltdown, but PCR and Igm test results need to be submitted twice before boarding and during any transfer, followed by a month of quarantine when you arrive. However, when I thought about the destination of my first trip, the Liangzhu ancient city, I remembered that it is a landmark Neolithic site in southern China, and was also inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. It is said to be as important as the Maya is to Mexico, only we do not know enough about it yet. The anticipation of this mysterious site renewed my enthusiasm on the weary journey.

Finally, in mid-September, I officially embarked on field study at Liangzhu. At this site, the palaces were constructed facing to the south, where there were open plains and rivers, with mountains located in the opposite direction (figure 1 and 2). My survey aimed to discover whether the orientation of the central palace of the ancient city of Lianzhu was related to astronomical beliefs, in addition to consideration of the surrounding settlement and defence against external enemies. Would the Liangzhu people of 5000 years ago have been moved by the sunrise and saddened by the sunset, as we are (figure 3)? Also, in prehistoric times when there were no compass nor written records, how did they determine the exact north-south and east-west orientation? Apart from speculating that they used the shadow cast by a standing wood, could they possibly have been guided by the skyscape, such as the North Star?


a road

Figure 1, walking to the palace site (from north to south)

another road

Figure 2, going down from the palace site (from south to north)

a paved road Figure 3, panorama image of the palace platform, the central palace was constructed on the left side in this image.

Since Liangzhu society had palaces and different social classes, it is highly likely that religious and ritual elements were also present, especially in the Neolithic period. The Yaoshan altar, therefore, became the second stop of my trip (figure 4). It is located several miles from the palaces, but its orientation is exactly same, which raised the same question to me. How did they classify the four directions? Was the ancient inhabitants’ concern with orientation related to an astronomical element, such as sunrise/sunset or the constellation of the plow?

 an earth altar

 Figure 4, Yaoshan altar.

Overall,  more questions appeared in my thinking after visiting Liangzhu, but they have increased my curiosity about this culture. Also, I would like to thank John Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund again for giving me the opportunity to research this culture during my PhD study.

Xin Shao's training in data visualisation and modelling


laptop on a desk with papers

I applied to the John Simpson Greenwell Memorial Fund when I was writing up my PhD thesis earlier this year. I was thinking of attending an intensive online training course on data visualisation and modelling so that I could employ social science datasets more effectively. The fund very kindly agreed to support me to take this 10-day intensive training course. Due to the Covid situation, the course was held online in August. I very much enjoyed this online learning experience. During the course, I not only learned new data-driven stroytelling skills but also met some master’s and PhD social science students from different countries. We challenged each other to build statistical models, explored various ways of visualising data and helped each other with code-writing and other issues. It was a fulfulling experience for me and it added fun to life during the pandemic. The course also inspired me to think more about how to communicate my research results to a wider community in a more interesting and innovative way. I feel grateful for this experience and also appreciate the fact that we can always find help and support from our college community.

Xin Shao

October, 2021