• 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?
    • The Biography of Borderlands: Old Oswestry Hillfort and Modern Heritage Debates

      Williams, Howard; McMillian-Sloan, Ruby; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-11-26)
      Responding to the recently published edited collection exploring the hillfort and landscape context of Old Oswestry (Shropshire, England) by heritage professionals connected to the Hands off Old Oswestry Hillfort heritage protection campaign (Malim and Nash 2020), this chapter reviews and reflects on the significance of the overall ‘life-history’ or ‘biography’ of Old Oswestry hillfort and its immediate environs to the present-day emotive and mnemonic significance of the monument. It argues that this biographical dimension fosters the hillfort as a locus of borderland identity, which explains the affinities of local inhabitants to Old Oswestry and frames the ongoing debates and conflicts regarding its significance and setting. Giving greater attention to researching and communicating this biography promises to inform and foster future public engagement and community action.
    • Dai Morgan Evans: a life in archaeology

      Williams, Howard; Chris, Musson; Christopher, Young; Cramp, Rosemary; James, Adrian; Evans, Sheena; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2022-08-25)
      Born David Morgan Evans on 1 March (St David’s Day) 1944 at West Kirby on the Wirral, Dai grew up in Chester, where the history master at the King’s School encouraged his interest in local history (Figure 1). Summer holidays at St David’s in West Wales, and participation in local digs in Chester, ignited his lifelong passion for archaeology. He studied the subject at Cardiff University (1963–1966) before pursuing postgraduate research on the archaeology of early Welsh poetry (Figure 2a), as well as acting as an assistant director of the South Cadbury excavations led by Professor Leslie Alcock (Figure 2b). Dai’s working life began when he joined the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings in Wales in early 1969. During his time there, he conceived and initiated the creation of the four Welsh archaeological trusts, as their ‘true begetter.’1 In 1977, he transferred to the English Inspectorate. Charged, from 1986, with developing countryside policies, he also became the English Heritage (as it now was) specialist in Public Inquiries. From 1992 to his retirement in 2004, Dai was a popular and active General Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He co-devised the APPAG (All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group) from 2001 and for a number of years served as its secretary after his retirement (2004–2008). From 2003, Dai was Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology at UCL. Having opened University College Chester’s new offices and teaching spaces in the Blue Coat School in 2003 to accommodate the Department of History and Archaeology, Dai served first as an honorary lecturer and then from 2006 as Visiting Professor of Archaeology, teaching and inspiring students and sustaining his research interests. His active retirement also included a host of other activities including television appearances, serving on the National Trust Archaeology Panel, participating in the historic-period dimension of the SPACES project with Geoff Wainwright and Timothy Darvill, and initiating the first modern study of the unique early medieval Welsh monument, the Pillar of Eliseg, at Llantysilio yn Iâl, Denbighshire. After a lifetime contributing to the archaeology of England and Wales, Dai sadly passed away on his birthday aged 73, 1 March 2017. Stemming from the memorial event held at the Society of Antiquaries of London, 11 September 2017: ‘Memorial for Professor Dai Morgan Evans FSA’,3 this multi-authored introduction charts Dai’s life in the service of archaeology. The authors cannot claim to cover all aspects of Dai’s archaeological endeavours, and inevitably the discussion affords depth to some aspects while mentioning others more briefly. However, the perspectives sequentially address different phases of his archaeological career and combine to capture a sense of his overall achievements and legacy. The chapter concludes with a brief introduction to this collection, which constitutes a celebration and memorial to Dai’s archaeological career and research.
    • 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.
    • Destroy the 'Sutton Hoo Treasure'!

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2022-09-01)
      This chapter presents a survey and critique of the use of ‘treasure(s)’ to describe the burial assemblage from the Mound 1 ship-burial at Sutton Hoo since its discovery in 1939. I argue that referring to the contents of Mound 1 as ‘treasure(s)’ is not merely misrepresenting, commodifying and sensationalising its funerary context and wider significance. Furthermore, the persistent use of the terms directly relates also to specific, multiple valences which assert and perpetuate a specific interpretation of the grave as a ‘King’s Mound’. Moreover, referring to more than the rare and high-status character of the finds, ‘treasure(s)’ also casts the assemblage’s identity as a ‘national treasure’, legitimising its curation by the British Museum and valorising the benefaction of the landowner who commissioned the 1938 and 1939 excavations: Mrs Edith Pretty. Another key dimension to the use of the term is the assemblage’s perceived relationship with the epic Old English poem Beowulf and the ‘treasures’ it describes. As a label, ‘treasure(s)’ inaccurately and tenaciously sublimates the rich and complex story of the grave, the contexts of the cemetery, locality and region into a simplified simulacrum of early East Anglian/Anglo-Saxon kingship linked to religious conversion and tied to patriotic modern concepts of Englishness. I demonstrate how the use of ‘treasure’ reveals a nexus of Anglo-Saxonist and Germanist ideological readings of the assemblage in academic discourse and popular culture.
    • 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’.
    • Envisioning Wat’s Dyke

      Williams, Howard; Swogger, John G.; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-11-26)
      In response to the challenge set by one of us (Williams this volume), this chapter explores new avenues for a public archaeology of Wat’s Dyke. A host of digital and real-world initiatives for public and community engagement are suggested, but the focus is upon one new initiative: the What’s Wat’s Dyke? Heritage Trail which aims to envision Wat’s Dyke within the town and suburbs of Wrexham using a comic medium. From this basis, the potential is explored for using the linearity of Wat’s Dyke as a gateway to explore the complex historic and cultural landscapes of the Welsh Marches from prehistory to the present.
    • 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.
    • Interpreting Wat’s Dyke in the 21st Century

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-11-26)
      Linear monuments offer special challenges in the context of the public archaeology of frontiers and borderlands. This chapter tackles the interpretive neglect of Britain’s second-longest early medieval earthwork, Wat’s Dyke, showing how its sparse and sporadic archaeological attention is reflected in poor and out-dated public archaeology and heritage interpretation. I evaluate the current media and mechanisms by which various publics – including global digital audiences, visitors to the Anglo-Welsh borderlands through which the monument runs, and local communities living in the Dyke’s environs in Flintshire, Wrexham and Shropshire – can access, experience and learn about Wat’s Dyke. Having identified how Wat’s Dyke is fragmented and obscure in the landscape despite its monumental presence, and how its digital resources are inadequate, I then propose new avenues for developing innovative interpretations of Wat’s Dyke for both existing and new audiences which aim to provide up-to-date and engaging resources and connect the monument to the rich cultural landscapes, past and present, through which it runs. I argue these recommendations provide the basis for both enhancing awareness and knowledge. I also argue they provide a more robust resources for current and future generations of research and public engagement. I also suggest they serve to combat the risk of pseudo-archaeological narratives and extremist political appropriations of Wat’s Dyke.
    • 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
    • Introduction: the Public Archaeology of Treasure

      Williams, Howard; Clague, Samuel; Carr, Natasha; Raine, James; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2022-09-01)
      Setting the stage for The Public Archaeology of Treasure, this chapter presents the complex intersections of ‘treasure’ in archaeological teaching and research and archaeology’s interactions with a range of different publics on local, regional, national and international scales. The chapter also identifies the global issues in heritage conservation, management and interpretation as well as the looting of archaeological sites and the illicit trade in antiquities relating to ‘treasure(s)’ as legally defined, popularly perceived and metaphorically articulated. Having introduced the breadth and complexity of ‘treasure(s)’, we survey the 2020 student conference from whence this project derived before reviewing the span and foci of the book itself.
    • Public Archaeologies from the Edge

      Williams, Howard; Clarke, Pauline; Gleave, Kieran; University of Chester; University of Salford (Archaeopress, 2020-11-26)
      The chapter serves to introduce the first-ever book dedicated to public archaeologies of frontiers and borderlands. We identify the hitherto neglect of this critical field which seeks to explore the heritage, public engagements, popular cultures and politics of frontiers and borderlands past and present. We review the 2019 conference organised by Uiversity of Chester Archaeology students at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, which inspired this book, and then survey the structure and contents of the collection. We advocate that public archaeologies should seek to incorporate and foreground perspectives ‘from the edge’. By this we mean public archaeology should make frontiers and borderlands – including the people living with them and seeking to traverse them – paramount to future work.
    • 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.
    • Undead Divides: An Archaeology of Walls in The Walking Dead

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Archaeopress, 2020-11-26)
      In 2010, the zombie horror genre gained even greater popularity than the huge following it had previously enjoyed when AMC’s The Walking Dead (TWD) first aired. The chapter surveys the archaeology of this fictional post-apocalyptic material world in the show’s seasons 1–9, focusing on its mural practices and environments which draw upon ancient, biblical, medieval and colonial motifs. The study identifies the moralities and socialities of wall-building, dividing not only survivors aspiring to re-found civilization from the wilderness and manifesting the distinctive identities of each mural community, but also distinguishing the living from the undead. The roles of the dead and the undead in mural iterations are also explored. As such, dimensions of past and present wall-building practices are reflected and inverted in this fictional world. As part of a broader ‘archaeology of The Walking Dead’, the chapter identifies the potentials of exploring the show’s physical barriers within the context of the public archaeology of frontiers and borderlands.