The History and Archaeology Department is based in a modern purpose-built building at the heart of the University's main Chester Campus. The Department of History and Archaeology has very good links with heritage, museum and archive agencies within the city of Chester, from which students are able to benefit during the course of their studies. The Department is also one of the leading research units within the University. The research interests and specialisms of the Department are diverse, ranging over the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and over local, British, European, American and international history.

Recent Submissions

  • Toponym matching through deep neural networks

    Santos, Rui; orcid: 0000-0001-5981-9924; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; orcid: 0000-0001-9904-0288; Calado, Pável; orcid: 0000-0001-6478-229X; Martins, Bruno; orcid: 0000-0002-3856-2936 (Informa UK Limited, 2017-10-31)
  • ‘To our big boy’. Zoos and animal sanctuaries as deathscapes

    Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Nordic Academic Press, 2019-06-01)
    n/a
  • Displaying the deviant: Sutton Hoo’s sand bodies

    Williams, Howard; Walsh, Madeline; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
    The interpretation of early medieval deviant burials has come to the fore in recent mortuary archaeology debates. Yet, critical discussion of how early medieval execution cemeteries are portrayed in museums and other media has received no critical attention. Using the prominent case study of Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, this chapter reveals the interpretative and ethical challenges inherent in narrating and visualizing later Anglo- Saxon judicial killing in the absence of well-preserved human remains, but instead through the recording and interpretation of carefully excavated “sand bodies.”
  • Death’s diversity: the case of Llangollen Museum

    Williams, Howard; Evans, Suzanne; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
    Much of the debate regarding mortuary archaeology’s public interactions has centred on the ethics and politics of displaying articulated skeletal material and fleshed bodies. In contrast, multiple, fragmented, dislocated and cenotaphic mortuary traces which populate museums across the UK have escaped sustained attention. Local and town museums, and also the distinctive narratives required in Welsh museums, have also eluded consideration. This chapter explores how smaller museums create environments in which networks are created both with other memorial places and landscapes in the vicinity, and between discrete museum displays. This chapter focuses on one case study—Llangollen Museum—to present and inter- rogate how a diversity of mortuary material culture combine to create a mortuary network associated with local history, heritage and landscape in this distinctive North Welsh context.
  • Dead Relevant: Introducing The Public Archaeology of Death

    Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
    Introducing the ten chapters of the book which each explore different dimensions of the public archaeology of death, this introduction asks: why and how are the archaeologically derived traces of human remains and mortuary monuments “dead relevant”? In other words, how has mortuary archaeology, from catacombs to cremated remains, come to enthral and gain significance in con- temporary society, and how does it continue to do so? Considering the diversity of archaeological field investigation, curation and display in museums, contestation and dialogues between archae- ologists, stakeholders and descendent communities, and the publications and popular receptions of the archaeological dead in the arts, literature and media, as well as via ancient monuments and historic landscapes, the public archaeology of death is a vibrant field of future research.
  • Death’s drama: mortuary practice in Vikings Season 1–4

    Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
    Inspired by later medieval sagas and Viking Age historical sources, but underpinned and enriched by archaeological evidence and themes, the History channel’s Vikings (2013–) is a unique drama series explor- ing the late eighth/early ninth century conflicts and culture of the Northmen, aimed at a global television audience. This chapter introduces the series and its varied portrayals of mortuary practice. From the por- trayal of the deaths of chieftains and those slain in battle to family members and children, I identify key archaeological themes behind the depiction of death. This prompts discussion of mortuary archaeology’s influence on popular perceptions of the Early Middle Ages, the programme operating as education, enter- tainment but also reflecting on present-day anxieties over the nature of human mortality.
  • Envisioning Cremation: Art and Archaeology

    Williams, Howard; Watson, Aaron; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
    Focusing on artist’s impressions of early Anglo-Saxon cremations, we reflect on the potentials and chal- lenges of collaborations between artists and archaeologists to both convey the fiery transformation of the dead in the human past, and provide reflection on our society’s own engagement with mortality in which cremation has become a commonplace dimension. We show the potential of art to challenge pre-conceived notions and understandings of cremation past and present, positioning art as a key dimension of public mortuary archaeology.
  • Early Holocene wetland succession at Lake Flixton (UK) and its implications for Mesolithic settlement

    Taylor, Barry; University of Chester (Springer Verlag, 2019-02-28)
    This paper reports on new research into the timing and nature of post-glacial environmental change at Lake Flixton (North Yorkshire, UK). Previous investigations indicate a succession of wetland environments during the early Holocene, ultimately infilling the basin by ca 7,000 cal BP. The expansion of wetland environments, along with early Holocene woodland development, has been linked to changes in the human occupation of this landscape during the Mesolithic (ca 11,300-6,000 cal BP). However, our understanding of the timing and nature of environmental change within the palaeolake is poor, making it difficult to correlate to known patterns of Mesolithic activity. This paper provides a new record for both the chronology and character of environmental change within Lake Flixton, and discusses the implications for the Mesolithic occupation of the surrounding landscape.
  • Star Carr, Volume 1: a persistent place in a changing world

    Milner, Nicky; Conneller, Chantal; Taylor, Barry; University of York, University of Manchester, University of Chester (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    This first volume of the Star Carr work provides an interpretation of the Star Carr site, one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Europe. Discovered in the late 1940s, the site is famous in the archaeological world for the wealth of rare organic remains uncovered. The 2003-2015 excavations directed by Conneller, Milner and Taylor aimed to answer questions about how the site was used. Much larger and more complex than ever imagined, the Star Carr site was in use for around 800 years. The excavations show that Mesolithic groups were highly invested in this place and continued to occupy the site despite changes in climate over this period. The findings include the oldest evidence for ‘houses’ in Britain, three large wooden platforms along the edge of the lake, antler headdresses and a unique, engraved shale pendant which represents the earliest form of Mesolithic art in Britain. The artefactual material provides new insights into Mesolithic life. Significant wooden artefacts were found which greatly enhances our understanding of how important wood (a material rarely recovered) was for Mesolithic people. In the analysis of other findings it is possible to see evidence for activity areas, such as crafts and tool repair associated with structures, an axe factory, as well as a number of caches. New finds of antler frontlets have increased our understanding of the diversity of human interactions with animals. Overall, despite the degradation, these excavations have provided a new understanding of life in the Early Mesolithic that challenges many of the preconceived views of this period in terms of the character and scale of activity and the degree of investment in a particular place in the landscape.
  • Star Carr, Volume 2: studies in technology, subsistence and environment

    Milner, Nicky; Conneller, Chantal; Taylor, Barry; University of York, University of Manchester, University of Chester (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    The second volume of Star Carr provides detail on specific areas of research around the Star Carr site, one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Europe. Discovered in the late 1940s, the site is famous in the archaeological world for the wealth of rare organic remains uncovered. The 2003-2015 excavations directed by Conneller, Milner and Taylor aimed to answer questions about how the site was used. Much larger and more complex than ever imagined, the Star Carr site was in use for around 800 years. The excavations show that Mesolithic groups were highly invested in this place and continued to occupy the site despite changes in climate over this period. The findings include the oldest evidence for ‘houses’ in Britain, three large wooden platforms along the edge of the lake, antler headdresses and a unique, engraved shale pendant which represents the earliest form of Mesolithic art in Britain. This volume looks in detail at focused areas of research, including wooden artefacts, the antler headdresses, structures, environmental and climate change data, plant and animal remains found at the site, and sediment data.
  • Landscapes of Internment: British Prisoner of War Camps and the Memory of the First World War

    Grady, Tim; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2019-07-26)
    During the First World War, all the belligerent powers interned both civilian and military prisoners. In Britain alone, over 100,000 people were held behind barbed wire. Despite the scale of this enterprise, interment barely features in Britain's First World War memory culture. By exploring the place of prisoner of war camps within the "militarized environment" of the home front, this article demonstrates the centrality of internment to local wartime experiences. Being forced to share the same environment meant that both British civilians and German prisoners clashed over access to resources, roads and the surrounding landscape. As the article contends, it was only when the British started to employ the prisoners on environmental improvement measures, such as land drainage or river clearance projects, that relations gradually improved. With the end of the war and closure of the camps, however, these deep entanglements were quickly forgotten. Instead of commemorating the complexities of the conflict, Britain's memory culture focused on more comfortable narratives; British military "sacrifice" on the Western Front quickly replaced any discussion of the internment of the "enemy" at home.
  • Conclusions

    Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; University of York, University of Chester, University of Manchester (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    Conclusions arising from the Star Carr project
  • Sediments and stratigraphy

    Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Boreham, Steve; Rowley, Charlotte C. A.; French, Charlie; Williams, Helen; University of York, University of Chester, University of Manchester, Independent, University of York, University of Cambridge, University of York (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    The sedimentary and stratigraphic record
  • Palaeoenvironmental Investigations

    Taylor, Barry; Allison, Enid; University of Chester, Canterbury Archaeological Trust (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    The results of the palaeoenvironmental analyses
  • Dating the Archaeology and Environment of the Star Carr Embayment

    Bayliss, Alex; Taylor, Barry; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher; Dunbar, Elaine; Kromer, Bernd; Bamforth, Michael; Conneller, Chantal; Elliott, Ben; Knight, Becky; Milner, Nicky; et al. (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-16)
    Radiocarbon dating the Star Carr archaeological and palaeoenvironmental record
  • Methods, Aims and Objectives

    Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; Allen, Steve; Bamforth, Michael; Conneller, Chantal; Croft, Shannon; French, Charlie; Hadley, Patrick; Knight, Becky; Little, Aimee; et al. (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    The aims, objects and methods of the Star Carr project
  • Human Lifeways

    Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Milner, Nicky; Elliott, Ben; Little, Aimee; Knight, Becky; Bamforth, Michael; University of Chester, University of Manchester, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York, University of York (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-12)
    Forms of human practice at Star Carr
  • Interpretative narrative of the history of occupation

    Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Bayliss, Alex; University of York, University of Chester, University of Manchester, Historic England (White Rose University Press, 2018-04-16)
    A chronological narrative of the early Mesolithic occupation at Star Carr

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