The Contents of My Time Capsule

A friend of mine asked me recently what I would put in a time capsule, if I had one, that would be opened in a century’s time by my grandchildren or great-grandchildren (or, knowing my luck, some unrelated archaeologist wondering what the box is all about). If I’m going to be brutally honest, this isn’t something I’ve ever thought about, even though I find the whole idea of a time capsule interesting. I’ve clearly watched too much Blue Peter growing up.

But I’m now thinking about it; what would I put in a box to be opened in a hundred years’ time? Admittedly, for some of the stuff I’d quite like to put in, it would have to be a fairly large box, but I think I could keep the archaeologist (or descendant) who digs it up interested for a week or two. I’ve limited myself to six because I’m also aware that I can’t really bury my entire life, much as I’d like to. So here goes – here’s what I’m planning to put in my time capsule.

1) Photos of me and my family. I don’t know why, but perhaps because I’d rather like the idea of whoever digs it up finding out what we all looked like. I’ve got photos of people I barely remember (and then only as very elderly people) in their youth, and it’s fascinating to see how they changed over the years. Of course, I’m going to have to remember to label them all very carefully so that nobody gets mixed up.

2) A bow and some arrows. I think this is why it’ll have to be quite a large box, although surprisingly, this doesn’t take up a great deal of room. I might have to include instructions on how to put it all together though. This will be interesting, as bow technology is progressing all the time, and it would be rather nice to have something recognisable throughout history in the box to see how things change.

3) Three books – Lord of the Rings, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Quadrilogy and the Gormenghast Trilogy. I love these books, and fortunately have single volume copies of each of them. I could, very easily, put in thousands of books, but these three I can read and reread and never get bored.

4) Some old technology – a mobile phone, a CD player, some DVDs. By the time my capsule is retrieved, I doubt very much any of these would exist outside of museums, or if they did, they’d be unrecognisable. They almost certainly wouldn’t work without extensive adaptations! And if they did ever work again, that raises whole questions of what CDs and DVDs I would put in. I can’t think about that now. My head would explode.

5) A couple of volumes of my diary. I’m not a great diary keeper, but I’m thinking purely in terms of social history here. And, of course, by the time this capsule is dug up, handwriting on paper may well be a thing of the past. Besides, my handwriting would give archaeologists years of puzzling over.

6) Seeds! Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m not a gardener, but I think it’s important that a representative selection of flower, fruit and vegetable seeds be stashed away, on the principle of heritage and genetic variation. Plus the fact they don’t take up a great deal of room, and might give an idea of what I used to eat.

So there you have it. What would you put in a time capsule if you had to build one?