• 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
    • Archaeologies of rules and regulation: between text and practice

      Williams, Howard; orcid: 0000-0003-3510-6852 (Informa UK Limited, 2020-04-30)
    • ‘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.
    • Archaeodeath as digital public mortuary archaeology

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-04-06)
      Since 2013, I have been writing an academic WordPress weblog (blog) – Archaeodeath: The Archaeology and Heritage of Death & Memory. In earlier publications, I have published preliminary reflections on the benefits of Archaeodeath as ‘digital public mortuary archaeology’ (DPMA), considering how it affords a mode of open-access public dissemination of mortuary archaeology, and a venue for debating and critiquing the archaeology and heritage of death and memory (Meyers and Williams 2014; Williams and Atkin 2015). Building on these discussions, this chapter reviews five-and-a-half years of the Archaeodeath blogging to the end of 2018, presenting the character of the blog’s content and its reception, identifying challenges and limitations of the medium, and (equally significantly in understanding its utility) considering key decisions regarding how I choose not to deploy this blog. I identify Archaeodeath as more than outreach or engagement, but as a digital platform increasingly both integral to, and transforming, my academic teaching and research practice.
    • Archaeology in Alfred the Great (1969) and The Last Kingdom (2015–)

      Nicholls, Victoria; Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-03-02)
      Alfred the Great (1969) was the first, and remains the only, feature-length film portraying the West Saxon king and his conflicts with the Danes. Forty-seven years later, Bernard Cornwell’s novels have been adapted for television as The Last Kingdom (2015–). Despite being fictional adaptions of historical events, and despite the considerable separation in time between their production, both Alfred the Great and The Last Kingdom consciously aspired to portray the Saxons and Vikings with a high degree of historical accuracy. Taking an archaeological perspective – focusing on the material cultures represented and their archaeological inspirations – this chapter asks which is more effective in representing late 9th-century Britain and what are the implications of this comparison?
    • Displaying the Dark Ages in Museums

      Williams, Howard; Clarke, Pauline; Bratton, Sarah; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-03-02)
      How museums and heritage sites in England display the early medieval past is the focus of academic and public interest and debate. Despite ever-pressured budgets and limited resources, the stories told about the early medieval past in these environments are of key importance for the story of this island, and have become increasingly important in the context of political and cultural crises of English identity, and extremist appropriations of the Early Middle Ages. Reviewing current and past displays of early medieval material culture at the Museum of Liverpool, the World Museum (also in Liverpool), and Chester’s Grosvenor Museum, this chapter evaluates the Early Middle Ages in city museums serving multicultural regions in the English North West and West Midlands. Consequently, we identify recommendations for potential future museum engagement with the ‘Dark Ages’.
    • Public Archaeology for the Dark Ages

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-03-02)
      This introductory chapter identifies the principal issues and themes in the public archaeology of the Early Middle Ages, exploring the specific and compelling challenges of investigating and evaluating the early medieval past in contemporary society mediated by archaeology. In doing so, we review and contextualise the contributions to the 3rd University of Chester Archaeology Student conference: ‘Digging into the Dark Ages’, which took place at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, 13 December 2017. The resulting book comprises a selection of the student contributions and a range of additional chapters by heritage professionals and academics. The book’s structure and contents are then outlined: the first-ever collection dedicated to ‘Dark Age’ public archaeology. It is argued that for future research, critical public archaeologies are essential for ethical and engaging early medieval archaeology in both theory and practice.
    • Death and memory in fragments: Project Eliseg’s public archaeology

      Williams, Howard; Evans, Suzanne; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-03-02)
      The public archaeology of death has frequently focused on the ethics and practices of excavating, displaying and curating human remains and mortuary contexts. Yet the focus of investigation is often restricted to whole, articulated bodies and tangible, complete monuments. Far fewer discussions have tackled the complex challenges of engaging the public with fragmented, partial human remains, ephemeral mortuary material cultures and dislocated funerary monuments. Equally, few studies have tackled the distributed nature of mortuary and memorial traces through their artistic representation and replication. This article addresses the challenges of Project Eliseg’s (2010–present) public archaeology when fragmentation, absence and distribution – both temporally and spatially – pervade the mortuary and memorial archaeology under investigation. We address how the public outreach of our fieldwork both succeeded and faced challenges to engage local people with the monument itself, partly because the monument is fragmented in multiple regards and partly because it is not primarily or exclusively in situ, but is instead both materially and conceptually elsewhere within the landscape of Wales and beyond.
    • Introspection and the Self in Early Modern Spiritual (Auto) Biography

      Hillman, Jennifer; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 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.
    • Things in Vikings

      Sanmark, Alexandra; Williams, Howard; University of Highlands and Islands; University of Chester (McFarland, 2019-11-30)
      In popular imagery, Vikings are often depicted as the ultimate lawless barbarians. Yet, as with all early medieval “barbarians” inspired by the writings of Tacitus, they have long been romanticized in Western popular culture for their supposed inherent equality and fairness, within which the roots of Nordic democracy are perceived.1 At the fulcrum of these stereotypes of nobility and savagery are Norse legal practices and assembly places. This chapter reviews the assembly places and practices depicted in the television show 'Vikings'.
    • Dialogues with the dead in Vikings

      Williams, Howard; Klevnäs, Alison; University of Chester; Stockholm University (McFarland, 2019-11-30)
      Moving pictures continue to transform popular engagements with the human past for early 21st-century audiences as for 20th-century audiences, via cinema, television and the internet. While there is a long tradition of filmic representations of the Vikings, the History Channel series Vikings (2013–) is to date a unique instance of a multi-season popular English- language drama portraying the Viking Age in pre–Christian Scandinavia. The story and settings are fictional and sometimes fantastical, yet they are richly and imaginatively informed by a mixture of literary, historical and archaeological sources. This chapter reviews the dialogues with dead bodies and body-parts depicted in the show.
    • From Archaeo-Engage to Arts of Engagement

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2019-11-27)
      The chapter outlines the rationale for the 2nd University of Chester Archaeology Student Conference – Archaeo-Engage: Engaging Communities in Archaeology. It serves as a companion chapter to this book’s Introduction. It reviews and contextualises the student presentations and keynote talks in relation to key current debates in public archaeology, and explains the journey towards publication incorporating student contributions and those by heritage professionals and academics. In doing so, the chapter provides a practical reflection on how undergraduate student work can contribute to current public archaeological investigations and debates.
    • Public Archaeology: Arts of Engagement

      Williams, Howard; Ezzeldin, Afnan; Pudney, Caroline; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2019-11-21)
      How should communities be engaged with archaeological research and how are new projects targeting distinctive groups and deploying innovative methods and media? In particular, how are art/archaeological interactions key to public archaeology today? This collection provides original perspectives on public archaeology’s current practices and future potentials focusing on art/archaeological media, strategies and subjects. It stems from the 2nd University of Chester Archaeology Student Conference, held on 5 April 2017 at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester: Archaeo-Engage: Engaging Communities in Archaeology.
    • Dialogues with early medieval ‘warriors’

      Williams, Howard; Alexander, Rachel; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2019-11-21)
      How are early medieval graves interpreted by community archaeology projects? This chapter considers how the well-known and innovative Operational Nightingale project has distinctively deployed the excavation and analysis of early Anglo-Saxon (later 5th and 6th-century AD) furnished graves, including those containing weaponry, in its practice and public engagement. In light of recent discussions regarding the ideological, social, educational and emotional significances of the archaeological dead, we consider Operation Nightingale’s well-received practical and interpretative dialogues with the dead during the investigation of an early medieval cemetery at Barrow Clump, Figheldean, on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. Our focus is upon the project’s assertions of parity and affinity between early Anglo-Saxon weapon burials and the experiences of modern military personnel: dialogues with early medieval ‘warriors’.
    • 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.
    • The Hidden Narratives of Medieval Art

      Wilson, Katherine Anne; University of Chester (Fordham University Press, 2019-10-15)
      To modern readers and viewers, objects like the Arnolfini portrait or the Angers Apocalypse tapestry appear to be the product and preserve of an elite class of consumers in the Middle Ages. This chapter argues that our analyses of these objects should not focus exclusively, or even predominantly on elites. In addition, the essay gives a voice and a place to the workers behind art of the Middle Ages examining the economic uncertainty and instability of employment that underpinned their production. It considers entrepreneurs who saw medieval courts and elite customers as commercial opportunities to be exploited. It ends by examining elite users of these products to complicate the narratives of their consumption. Far from simply reflecting the power and status of their owners, objects like the Arnolfini portrait or the Apocalypse tapestry also conveyed the uncertainty of everyday life and the fragility of princely rule during the Middle Ages.
    • The Alien Jew in the British Imagination, 1881-1905: Space, Mobility and Territoriality

      Ewence, Hannah; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019-10-15)
      This book explores how fin de siècle Britain and Britons displaced spatially-charged apprehensions about imperial decline, urban decay and unpoliced borders onto Jews from Eastern Europe migrating westwards. The myriad of representations of the ‘alien Jew’ that emerged were the product of, but also a catalyst for, a decisive moment in Britain’s legal history: the fight for the 1905 Aliens Act. Drawing upon a richly diverse collection of social and political commentary, including fiction, political testimony, ethnography, travel writing, journalism and cartography, this volume traces the shifting rhetoric around alien Jews as they journeyed from the Russian Pale of Settlement to London’s East End. By employing a unique and innovative reading of both the aliens debate and racialized discourse concerned with ‘the Jew’, Hannah Ewence demonstrates that ideas about ‘space’ and 'place’ critically informed how migrants were viewed; an argument which remains valid in today’s world.
    • Rethinking heirlooms in early medieval graves

      Costello, Brian; Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2019-09-14)
      Since the influential work of Roger White (1988; 1990), there have been a range of studies exploring the reuse and recycling of artefacts in southern and eastern Britain in the 5th–7th centuries AD, focusing especially on the reuse of Roman artefacts in early Anglo-Saxon furnished inhumation graves. This chapter will reappraise the theoretical and methodological framework for such studies, suggesting that the focus on ‘Roman’ artefacts distracts attention away from the potential mnemonic significance of deploying early medieval curated artefacts in the mortuary arena as key components of burial assemblages. We propose a new approach to early medieval artefacts, focusing on how older early medieval ‘heirlooms’ were deployed within the burial tableau as significant elements of mortuary performance. This argument is illustrated by four furnished inhumation graves, two each from a pair of cemeteries in east Kent.