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

  • St Guthlac and the ‘Britons’: a Mercian context

    Capper, Morn; University of Chester (Paul Watkins, 2019)
    Article analysing evidence for relations between Anglo-Saxon Mercia and the British peoples of the seventh-century west midlands during the lifetime of Guthlac, saint of Crowland and during the construction of his biography and cult in the early eighth century. Publisher Shaun Tyas: 1 High St, Donington, Spalding PE11 4TA
  • Death in the Contemporary World: Perspectives from Public Archaeology

    Williams, Howard; University of Chester (JAS Arquelogia SLU, 2018-10)
    This Introduction to AP’s third special issue seeks to provide context and rationale to the study of ‘public mortuary archaeology’ before reviewing the development of the volume. Building on the presentations of the first Public Archaeology Twitter Conference of April 2017, these articles comprise a wide range of original analyses reflecting on the public archaeology of death. In addition to evaluations of fieldwork contexts, churches and museums, there are discussions of the digital dimensions to public mortuary archaeology, an appraisal of ancient and modern DNA research as public mortuary archaeology, and an evaluation of the relationship between mortuary archaeology and palliative care. Together, the articles constitute the state of current thinking on the public archaeology of death, burial and commemoration.
  • Belgian Refugees in Cheshire: 'Place' and the Invisibility of the Displaced

    Ewence, Hannah (Taylor and Francis, 2018-10-24)
    The First World War centenary has invigorated research into the Belgian refugee presence, especially at the local level. However, as this article argues, the responses which Belgians elicited locally, as well as the ‘quality’ and longevity of the memory culture surrounding them, was intimately tethered to ideas about and experiences of ‘place’ during the war and after. Exiled Belgians were almost uniquely positioned to communicate the totality of war as well as stand as silent representatives of the trauma of displacement. Yet this case study of the North West county of Cheshire demonstrates how wartime tragedy with regional consequences, as well as a preoccupation with combatant internees and casualties, eclipsed the everyday reality and the post-war memory of the Belgians.
  • Writing a Spiritual Biography in Early Modern France: The 'Many Lives' of Madeleine de Lamoignon

    Hillman, Jennifer; University of Chester (Duke University Press, 2019-01-01)
    In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, four different spiritual biographers wrote the "life" of the recently deceased lay dévote, Madeleine de Lamoignon (1609-1687). Each of these authors was seeking to compose a spiritual biography - an account of Madeleine's devotional life - and they were all penned with the distant prospect of beatification or canonisation in mind. This article analyses these four retellings of Madeleine's life in order to excavate the process of writing vitae, and situates this within the broader context of lay spiritual biography in early modern France. It is argued here that a comparative exploration of Madeleine de Lamoignon's "lives" reveals different, and sometimes competing, conceptions of lay female sanctity in the Counter-Reformation era. Ultimately, the article contends that by turning our attention to neglected biographies of lay women, scholars might better understand how a life outside of the cloister could be reconciled with saintliness.
  • Lay Female Devotional Lives in the Counter Reformation

    Hillman, Jennifer; University of Chester (Brill Academic Publishers, 2017)
    In 1563, the Catholic Church responded to the Protestant challenge to the religious life as the most holy feminine state with the maxim aut maritus aut murus (wife or wall). The navigation of that dictum by early modern women across Catholic Europe has arguably been one of the dominant themes in the scholarship over the last thirty years. Certainly, there had always been the opportunity for women to lead a religious life outside of marriage and the cloister as beatas, tertiaries and beguines. Yet it was after the Council of Trent (1545-63) that women had to renegotiate a space in the world in which they could lead spiritually-fulfilling devotional lives. If this was one unintended legacy of 1517, then the quincentenary of the Reformation seems a timely moment to reflect on new directions in the now burgeoning historiography on lay women in Counter-Reformation Europe.
  • Introspection and the Self in Early Modern Spiritual (Auto) Biography

    Hillman, Jennifer; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2020)
    This chapter will explore the intersections between memory, introspection and selfhood in spiritual biographical and autobiographical texts produced in France over the long eighteenth century. This chapter uses case studies from eighteenth-century France to destabilise teleological narratives surrounding the emergence of selfhood and subjectivity in the eighteenth century and its association with modernity and secularisation.
  • Kingship, Society, and the Church in Anglo-Saxon Yorkshire

    Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2018-11-15)
    A monograph about the relationship between social and political structures, conversion to Christianity, and the building of an institutional Church in Yorkshire from c. 450-c. 1066.
  • Coins and Cosmologies in Iron Age Western Britain

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018)
    Using an approach derived from material culture studies and semiotics, this speculative paper addresses possible relationships between humans and horses in the British Iron Age. Through a study of dominance of horse imagery found on Iron Age British coinage, specifically the Western coins traditionally attributed to the ‘Dobunni’, the author explores what these coins may be able to inform us regarding the possible relationships between humans and horses and their personhood therein. Drawing on wider evidence including faunal remains and other horse-related metalwork, it is argued that these coins could be interpreted as a manifestation of the complex perspectives surrounding a symbiotic relationship between humans and horses.
  • Translational Public Archaeology? Archaeology, social benefit, and working with offenders in Wales (Part 2)

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-06-05)
    This article reports on a second case study in the relationship between archaeology and social benefit through working with young offenders in Wales. Whereas a previous article (Pudney 2018), focused on the MORTARIA Project - an archaeological education project engaging adult offenders in South Wales - this study explores the distinctive methods and challenges faced by the subsequent Heritage Graffiti Project (HGP). This project faced similar, but also different, experiences to MORTARIA, involving different skills and technologies, as well as specific artistic engagement with place. The article considers the effectiveness of the HGP before reflecting on the two projects’ shared implications for future, translational public archaeology projects that wish to work with offenders.
  • Humans in the Environment: Plants, Animals and Landscapes in Mesolithic Britain and Ireland

    Overton, Nick J.; Taylor, Barry; University of Manchester; University of Chester (Springer, 2018-05-29)
    Environmental archaeology has historically been central to Mesolithic studies in Britain and Ireland. Whilst processual archaeology was concerned with the economic significance of the environment, post-processual archaeology later rejected economically driven narratives, resulting in a turn away from plant and animal remains. Post-processual narratives focused instead on enigmatic ‘ritual’ items that economic accounts struggled to suitably explain. Processual accounts of landscapes, grounded in economic determinism, were also rejected in favour of explorations of their sociocultural aspects. However, in moving away from plant and animal remains, such accounts lacked the ability to rigorously explore the specificities of particular landscapes and humans actions within them. This paper will bridge this gap by considering how palaeoecological and zooarchaeological analyses can be used to explore human interactions with plants and animals, which were key in developing understandings and relationships that ultimately structured landscapes, influenced past human actions and shaped archaeological assemblages.
  • Rhynie: New Perspectives on Settlement in Pictland in the 5th and 6th centuries AD and the Context of Pictish Symbol Stones

    Gondek, Meggen M.; Noble, Gordon; University of Chester, University of Aberdeen (Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, 2018-01-10)
    This paper offers and update on work at the important high status Pictish site at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire. It highlights the excavation results and puts these into context and examines how the Pictish symbol stones on site may have been key features of this high status secular and ritual complex.
  • Care in the countryside: the theory and practice of therapeutic landscapes in the early twentieth-century

    Hickman, Clare; University of Chester (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2018-05-01)
    In 1945 Jane Whitney, when writing her biography of Geraldine Cadbury visited the Cropwood Open-Air School in Blackwell and described how ‘the sleep-time garden might be the envy of princes, with its fountain in the midst of a green lawn, so that the children took their naps amid the soothing, somnolent plash of falling water’. This evocative description of a princely garden gives an indication of the attention and importance given to gardens associated with such institutions in the early decades of the twentieth-century (Figure 8.1). Cropwood (opened in 1922) was just one of a number of open-air schools and hospitals operating at this time in Blackwell, near Bromsgrove, in the West Midlands. The open-air approach to treating chronic diseases such as tuberculosis became popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century in Britain. It encouraged inmates to spend as much time as possible in the fresh air and sunshine, as both were considered to have curative properties. The 1937 Ordnance Survey (OS) Map depicts a cluster of such institutions - along with Cropwood these were: Hunters Hill Open-Air School (opened 1933), The Uplands (Children’s Convalescent Home, opened 1923), Burcot Grange (annexe to Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, opened 1936) and the Birmingham and Midland Counties Sanatorium, which became known as the Blackwell Convalescent Home (opened on this site in 1873) (Figure 8.2, 8.3). This chapter will explore this cluster but focus in detail on the gardens associated with Cropwood and the Blackwell Convalescent Home. In particular it will aim to unpick the design and use of these gardens in relation to contemporary medical and social ideas. In so doing, it will illuminate the connections between garden history and histories of health care, which is a growing research area. Historians that have explored this connection in relation to designed green spaces include myself and Sarah Rutherford. Medical historians, particularly Andrew Scull and Linda Bryder, have discussed the hospital landscape in relation to issues such as economics and national efficiency. Similarly, cultural geographers have taken an interest in the concept of ‘therapeutic landscapes’, including the work of Chris Philo on asylums, Hester Parr on mental health and space, and Wil Gesler, who originally coined the term.
  • Excavations at Flixton Island

    Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; University of York; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Quarternary Research Association, 2017-09)
    This chapter outlines the results of fieldwork at Flixton Island
  • Early Holocene wetland succession in Lake Flixton.

    Taylor, Barry; University of Chester (Quarternary Research Association, 2017-09)
    This chapter discusses the evidence for wetland succession during the early Holocene in lake Flixton
  • Archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations at Star Carr

    Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Milner, Nicky; University of Chester; University of Manchester; University of York (Quarternary Research Association, 2017-09)
    This chapter outlines the results of recent archaeological and palaeo-environmental research at Star Carr
  • The Resettlement of the British Landscape: Towards a chronology of Early Mesolithic lithic assemblage types

    Conneller, Chantal; Bayliss, Alex; Milner, Nicky; Taylor, Barry; University of Manchester; Historic England; University of York; University of Chester (Internet Archaeology, 2016-12-13)
    During the Upper Palaeolithic Britain was visited intermittently, perhaps only on a seasonal basis, by groups often operating at the margins of their range. The Early Mesolithic, by contrast, witnessed the start of the permanent occupation of the British landscape, with certain key sites showing evidence for long-lasting occupation from the very start of the period. However, currently our understanding of the timing and tempo of the Mesolithic colonisation and infilling of the landscape is limited because of the paucity of precise radiocarbon measurements. In this article we assess and model existing radiocarbon measurements to refine current typochronological models for the first two millennia of the Holocene. This is a necessary first step towards understanding the Mesolithic resettlement of the British Isles. Our results throw new light on the relationship between the last Upper Palaeolithic 'Long Blade' industries and early Mesolithic assemblages, as well as refining our understanding of the chronology of early Mesolithic assemblage types. Our data also suggest regional patterning to the timing of Mesolithic settlement and throw new light on issues of population movement and adoption of new technologies.
  • The resilience of postglacial hunter-gatherers to abrupt climate change

    Blockley, Simon; Candy, Ian; Matthews, Ian; Langdon, Pete; Langdon, Cath; Palmer, Adrian; Lincoln, Paul; Abrook, Ashley; Taylor, Barry; Conneller, Chantal; Bayliss, Alex; MacLeod, Alison; Deeprose, Laura; Darvill, Chris; Kearney, Rebecca; Beavan, Nancy; Staff, Richard; Bamforth, Michael; Taylor, Maisie; Milner, Nicky; Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), University of Southampton, University of Southampton, Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), Royal Holloway (University of London), University of Chester, University of Manchester, Historic England, University of Reading, Lancaster University, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, Kenepuru Science Center, University of Oxford, University of York, University of York, University of York (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-03-23)
    Understanding the resilience of early societies to climate change is an essential part of exploring the environmental sensitivity of human populations. There is significant interest in the role of abrupt climate events as a driver of early Holocene human activity, but there are very few well-dated records directly compared with local climate archives. Here, we present evidence from the internationally important Mesolithic site of Star Carr showing occupation during the early Holocene, which is directly compared with a high-resolution palaeoclimate record from neighbouring lake beds. We show that, once established, there was intensive human activity at the site for several hundred years when the community was subject to multiple, severe, abrupt climate events that impacted air temperatures, the landscape and the ecosystem of the region. However, these results show that occupation and activity at the site persisted regardless of the environmental stresses experienced by this society. The Star Carr population displayed a high level of resilience to climate change, suggesting that postglacial populations were not necessarily held hostage to the flickering switch of climate change. Instead, we show that local, intrinsic changes in the wetland environment were more significant in determining human activity than the large-scale abrupt early Holocene climate events.
  • The application of micro-Raman for the analysis of ochre artefacts from Mesolithic palaeo-lake Flixton

    Needham, Andy; Croft, Shannon; Kröger, Roland; Robson, Harry K.; Rowley, Charlotte C. A.; Taylor, Barry; Gray Jones, Amy; Conneller, Chantal; University of York; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Elsevier, 2017-12-20)
    Ochre is an important mineral pigment used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers across the globe, and its use in the Mesolithic is no exception. Using optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy with micrometre spatial resolution (micro-Raman), we present evidence that confirms unambiguously the use of ochre by hunter-gatherers at Mesolithic sites surrounding Palaeo-Lake Flixton, Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, UK. Our results suggest that people collected ochre and processed it in different ways, likely for diverse purposes. The quality and specificity of chemical characterisation possible with micro-Raman facilitates new avenues for further research on ochreous materials in Britain, including provenancing through chemical ‘fingerprinting’.
  • A Bone-Disc Nail Cleaner from South-East Wales

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (2017-05)
    This short paper focuses on a late Iron Age/early Roman copper-alloy nail cleaner discovered during the excavations of Llanmelin Wood Camp hillfort, near Newport (S. Wales), in 2012. The nail-cleaner is to date a rare find west of the River Wye and as such, the author assess the wider chronological and social significance and implications.
  • Socio-semiotics and the symbiosis of humans, horses, and objects in later Iron Age Britain

    Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-03-14)
    Using an approach derived from material culture studies and semiotics, this paper addresses possible relationships between humans and horses in the British Iron Age.Through a study of the dominance of horse imagery found on Iron Age British coinage, specifically the Western coinage traditionally attributed to the 'Dobunni', the author explores how it may reflect possible relationships between humans and horses and their personhood therein. Drawing on wider faunal and metalwork evidence it is argued that these coins could be interpreted as a manifestation of the complex perspectives surrounding a symbiotic relationship between humans and horses.

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