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

  • Disrupting the Rituals of Grief: Conflict, Covid-19 and the Fracturing of Funerary Tradition

    Critchell, Kara; University of Chester (Peter Lang, 2021-09-01)
    This chapter considers the disruption of the funerary ritual during the Covid-19 pandemic and reflects on the connections between these disruptions and state intervention in funerary practice during the Second World War. Through an analysis of how such intervention has occurred, and the language of sacrifice that has been evoked in both instances, it will be suggested that the fracturing of the formal rituals of death and commemoration has not only led to complicated grief amongst individuals, but that it could also result in long- term societal trauma.
  • A Roman Villa near Rossett

    Pudney, Caroline; Grenter, Steve; University of Chester; Wrexham Museum
    In the light of the discovery of the Roman lead ingot near Rossett in 2019, a partnership project was established between the University of Chester and Wrexham Museum with the aim of investigating its wider archaeological context. As part of this, the footprint of a winged-corridor villa was identified. This article outlines the initial findings and their potential significance.
  • Book Review: Planning in the Early Medieval Landscape, by John Blair, Stephen Rippon and Christopher Smart

    Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2021-08-12)
    A book review of John Blair, Stephen Rippon, and Christopher Smart, Planning the Early Medieval Landscape (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2020).
  • Were Early Medieval Lists Bureaucratic? The Whitby Abbot's Book, Folios 1r-4v

    Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester
    Since the Enlightenment, early medieval lists have been removed from their original manuscript contexts and sometimes interpreted as artefacts of royal and ecclesiastical bureaucracy. Despite critical engagement with the idea of early medieval bureaucracy and recent emphasis on the material and literary characteristics of lists, the idea of bureaucratic origins remains. This paper focuses on the Whitby Abbot’s Book, folios 1r-4v, a perhaps incomplete quire written after 1176, comprising a book list, a story of refoundation with accompanying property lists, an abbatial oath, and a story of abbatial elections including a list of monks. It uses approaches to bureaucracy, administrative history, and memory to reflect on this case study and on cultures of listing.
  • The Social History of a Medieval Fish Weir, c. 600-2020

    Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester
    This paper presents the longue durée social history of a medieval fish weir. It reveals the significant role of fishing and fish weirs in the construction and reconstruction of social structures and cultural identities. It focuses on an enigmatic annual ceremony – the construction of the Horngarth or Penny Hedge at Whitby, North Yorkshire. It begins by arguing that this descends from the construction of a medieval intertidal fish weir. It then explores the possible social and cultural contexts in which it originated and the social and cultural circumstances that perpetuated its construction to the sixteenth century. It proceeds to consider the social and cultural changes that undermined its original function and transformed its significance in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, and how an invented tradition about it became important to the local identity and national reputation of the town.
  • When They Get to the Border

    Ewence, Hannah; University of Chester
    The Aliens Act of 1905 was the culmination of decades of anxiety about migrants – some of whom attempted to reach Britain by clandestine means.
  • Touching, feeling, smelling and sensing history through objects. New Opportunities from the 'material turn'

    Bird, Michael; Wilson, Katherine Anne; Egan-Simon, Daryn; Jackson, Alannah; Kirkup, Richard; University of Chester
    Lots has been written in recent years about how history teachers can bring academic scholarship into the classroom. Here, this interest in academic practice a step further, examining how pupils can engage directly with the kinds of sources to which historians are increasingly turning their attention is highlighted. Building on a funded research network that brought together academic history and art history departments, Michael Bird and his co-authors worked with museum curators and trainee teachers to bring artefacts from the rich (but often overlooked) collections of their local museum into schools.
  • Textiles: 1400-1700

    Wilson, Katherine Anne; University of Chester
    A summary of Textiles 1400-1700.
  • Commerce and Consumers: The Ubiquitous Chest of the Late Middle Ages

    Wilson, Katherine Anne; University of Chester
    Contrary to their ubiquity within written, visual, and material sources, chests have largely remained overlooked in studies of the late Middle Ages. Bill Brown’s “thing theory” helps to explain the ways in which chests can transform from unnoticed “things” in the background to meaningful “objects” when viewed through their entanglements with commercial, consumer, political, and moral concerns. The interdisciplinary study of chests in the late Middle Ages brings together a range of evidence including inventories, guild accounts, court pleas, contemporary writings, images, and material culture from Burgundy, France, and England.
  • From Celebrating Diversity to British Values: The Changing Face of Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain

    Critchell, Kara; University of Chester
    2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in Britain. In the two decades since the inaugural ceremony took place successive British government have sought to position themselves at the very forefront of Holocaust remembrance and education on a national, international, and supranational, level. As such, the Holocaust has emerged as a dominant socio-political symbol in twenty-first century Britain even though the event intersects with the British experience in few ways, in part, due to the lack of connections the country has to the sites of deportation or extermination. Though the increase in activities for HMD suggests a growing engagement with the Holocaust in British society this obscures the complex discourses surrounding the day, and inherent tensions that have existed within it since its inception in 1999. This chapter explores some of these by tracing the shift in Holocaust remembrance in Britain since the establishment of HMD in 2001, considering the political tensions surrounding it and the changing politicised messages being promoted by it. It is the position of this chapter that, evermore, HMD is being utilised as a means by which to evoke specific values for the furthering of very particular political agendas.
  • The Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment: The Development of British Airborne Technology, 1940-1950

    Jenkins, Tim; Univeristy of Chester
    The evolution of British airborne warfare cannot be fully appreciated without reference to the technological development required to convert the detail contained in the doctrine and concept into operational reality. Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment is a detailed investigation of the British technological investment in an airborne capability and analyses whether the new technology was justifiable, or indeed, entirely achievable.
  • Fortress Salopia: Exploring Shropshire's Military History from the Prehistoric Period to the Twentieth Century

    Jenkins, Tim; Abbiss, Rachael; University of Chester
    Fortress Salopia is the culmination of contributions from heritage and historic professionals, practising archaeologists and academic historians that explores the unique military past of the county of Shropshire from the prehistoric period to the 20th century. Shropshire is one of the most characteristic counties of the Welsh Marches and occupied a strategic position between England and Wales. Consequently, the county boasts the highest numbers of Iron Age hillforts in England and the greatest density of Motte & Bailey castles. The archaeological remains that adorn the landscape are a prescient reminder that Shropshire was once a frontier battleground, although such reminders are often lost amongst the picturesque rural landscape that prevails today.
  • Archaeologies of rules and regulation: between text and practice

    Williams, Howard; orcid: 0000-0003-3510-6852 (Informa UK Limited, 2020-04-30)
  • Plants as persons: perceptions of the natural world in the North European Mesolithic

    Taylor, Barry; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2020-09-08)
    Amongst many hunter-gatherer communities, plants, animals and other aspects of the ‘natural’ environment, are bound up in, and gain significance and meaning from, specific cultural traditions. These traditions intricately bind the natural world into broader ontological understandings, which include concepts of animacy, the origins of the world, its structure and composition, and the behaviour of supernatural beings. Through these traditions, elements of the environment are imbued with an ontological significance that informs the way people perceive them, and how they interact with them through economic or ritual practice. There is a growing body of evidence that comparable traditions also structured the ways that hunter-gatherers interacted with their environment during the European Mesolithic. Much of the research has focused on the significance of animals, but this paper argues that plants were perceived in a similar way. Through a series of case studies from the North European Mesolithic, it shows how trees in particular were understood as powerful forces, playing active roles in people’s lives, and how interactions with them were mediated through prescribed forms of social practice
  • Why should we write about Anglo-Saxon farms and farming?

    Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester
    A review of four recent works on Anglo-Saxon farms, farming, and food.
  • Review: Nicole Discenza, Inhabited Spaces: Anglo-Saxon Constructions of Place

    Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2019-03-25)
    A book review.
  • ‘A Spectacle for the Cameras’: The survival of a Lakeland leisure tradition, 1930- c.1955

    Andrew, Rebecca; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2020-04-27)
    This article examines the survival of rushbearing, a rural leisure tradition in the English Lake District. As a region popular with tourists throughout the 20th century, this case study offers important insights into how their presence shaped this ‘traditional’ leisure activity. Not only did annual rushbearing ceremonies offer opportunities for the region’s sense of place to be presented to outsiders, they were also an important way for local communities to reaffirm their connection to the Lake District and its past. These occasions were, however, increasingly influenced by an awareness of external influences and outside judgements, as the region’s popularity as a tourist destination boomed from the inter-war years. Although youth culture was increasingly standardised at a national level during this period, at a local level, young countrymen and women played an integral role in rushbearing’s survival, which promoted an idealised version of ‘traditional’ country life. This annual community event is therefore a useful example through which to examine the interplay between rural leisure traditions, tourism, and the role of young people in the countryside during this period.
  • Geohumanities 2017 workshop report

    Martins, Bruno; Murrieta-Flores, Patricia (Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2018-01-09)
  • Chester, Cavaliers and Cannons

    Chadwick, Sam (BBC History Magazine, 2019-10-26)
    This presentation looked at Chester’s role in the Civil War, the day-to-day activities of the siege of Chester, and the actions of the troops and commanders, supported by one of the key weapons of the time: artillery. Starting with an overview of the Civil War and its three parts, this lecture went on to look at 17th century siege warfare and its part in the civil war. It then drew out Chester’s place in the economy and the political landscape of the time, as well as the state of its defences. The presentation outlined the key figures in the siege of Chester, and broke down the siege into 4 key phases. Finally the presentation concluded with drawing the siege back to some of the original research on siege warfare and seeing how applicable they are in this case study.

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