• 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?
    • 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.
    • 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’.
    • 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’.
    • 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.
    • Introduction: public archaeologies as arts of engagement

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester
      By way of introduction to the book, this chapter sets out the principal recent developments and characteristics of public archaeology, focusing on the UK. By contextualising the chapters which originated as presentations in the 2017 student conference, as well as those contributions subsequently commissioned for the book, the specific theme of art/archaeology interactions in public archaeology is defined and its multiple facets are reviewed
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.