• 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.
    • Being Mesolithic in life and death

      Cobb, Hannah; Gray Jones, Amy; University of Manchester; University of Chester (Springer International Publishing, 2018-08-25)
      Fifty years ago approaches to Mesolithic identity were limited to ideas of man the hunter, woman the gatherer, and evidence of non-normative practice was ascribed to "shamans" and to "ritual", and that was that. As post-processual critiques have touched Mesolithic studies, however, this has changed. In the first decade of the 21st century a strong body of work on Mesolithic identity in life, as well as death, has enabled us to think beyond modern western categories to interpret identity in the Mesolithic. Our paper reviews these changing approaches, offering a series of case studies of such approaches, before developing these case studies to advocate an assemblage approach to identity in the Mesolithic.
    • Blog bodies: Mortuary archaeology and blogging

      Meyers, Katy; Williams, Howard; Michigan State University ; University of Chester (Landward Research, 2014-04-30)
      Mortuary archaeology - the study of past beliefs and practices surrounding dying, death and the dead using archaeological theories, methods and techniques - is a rich, diverse and growing field of research that incorporates, and extends beyond, bioarchaeology (osteoarchaeology) in its scope (Parker Pearson 1999; Tarlow and Nilsson Stutz 2013a). This particular subfield has many dimensions, a global reach and the scope to study human engagements with mortality from earliest times to the present day. Mortuary archaeology is inseparable from other kinds of archaeology - it inevitably overlaps with material culture analyses, settlement studies and landscape archaeology. It incorporates many specialists scientific techniques used to analyse artefacts, bones and other materials retrieved from mortuary contexts. The archaeology of death also extends far beyond the study of mummified human cadavers and articulated and disarticulated skeletal remains (burnt or unburnt). It also involves: considering artefacts and ecofacts from mortuary contexts; the structure and arrangement of graves; burial chambers and tombs; a wide range of art, architectures, monuments and memorials to the dead. Mortuary archaeology incorporates both cemeteries and other spaces designed to commemorate the dead, the spatial relationships between mortuary locales and the evolving landscape in which they are situated. The archaeology of death and burial can be site-specific, or it can look within particular localities or regions. Likewise, it can look at single periods or they can chart the development and shifts in mortuary practice over many centuries and millennia. Taking these various points into account, it is evident that today’s mortuary archaeology not only has multiple dimensions and scales of analysis, but also many tendrils into, and explicit dialogues with, other disciplines. For instance, the archaeological and bioarchaeological investigation of death, burial and commemoration can involve close dialogue with cultural anthropologists as well as with social historians of death. Equally, mortuary archaeology shares and exchanges ideas and perspectives with: sociologists and theologians of death, dying and bereavement; studies of the representation and material culture of death; and memory by art-historians and architectural historians. Bearing these points in mind, for both prehistoric and historic eras, mortuary archaeology reveals increasingly new and fascinating insights into human engagements with mortality across time and space.
    • Cremation and contemporary churchyards

      Williams, Howard; Williams, Elizabeth; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-07-05)
      A contemporary archaeological investigation of cremation memorials in English and Welsh churchyards.
    • Dead Relevant: Introducing The Public Archaeology of Death

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Equinox, 2018-09-01)
      Introducing the ten chapters of the book which each explore different dimensions of the public archaeology of death, this introduction asks: why and how are the archaeologically derived traces of human remains and mortuary monuments “dead relevant”? In other words, how has mortuary archaeology, from catacombs to cremated remains, come to enthral and gain significance in con- temporary society, and how does it continue to do so? Considering the diversity of archaeological field investigation, curation and display in museums, contestation and dialogues between archae- ologists, stakeholders and descendent communities, and the publications and popular receptions of the archaeological dead in the arts, literature and media, as well as via ancient monuments and historic landscapes, the public archaeology of death is a vibrant field of future research.
    • Envisioning Cremation: Art and Archaeology

      Williams, Howard; Watson, Aaron; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
      Focusing on artist’s impressions of early Anglo-Saxon cremations, we reflect on the potentials and chal- lenges of collaborations between artists and archaeologists to both convey the fiery transformation of the dead in the human past, and provide reflection on our society’s own engagement with mortality in which cremation has become a commonplace dimension. We show the potential of art to challenge pre-conceived notions and understandings of cremation past and present, positioning art as a key dimension of public mortuary archaeology.
    • Ethnographies for early Anglo-Saxon cremation

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Éditions Mergoil, 2016-10-02)
      This chapter shows how archaeological investigations of early Anglo-Saxon cremation practices can be enhanced and extended by anthropological theory and ethnographic analogies. While the interactions between fire, material culture, architecture, space and the human body have been increasingly theorised for early Anglo-Saxon death rituals, this chapter illustrates how refined interpretations can be arrived at using two themes: (i) the significances of vessels and containers as pyre-goods and (ii) building timber-post structures associated with single and multiple cremation burials.
    • Future directions for the archaeology of cremation

      Cerezo-Román, Jessica I.; Williams, Howard; Harvard University ; University of Chester (University of Arizona Press, 2014-11-30)
    • Introduction: Archaeologies of Cremation

      Williams, Howard; Cerezo-Román, Jessica I.; Wessman, Anna; University of Chester; CalPol; University of Helsinki (Oxford University Press, 2017-04-27)
      Introduction to the edited collection 'Cremation and the Archaeology of Death'
    • Introduction: Mortuary Archaeology in Contemporary Society

      Giles, Melanie; Williams, Howard; University of Manchester; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2016-06-09)
      n/a
    • Marriage and Martyrdom: the Death of John Fisher Reconsidered

      Harry, David; University of Chester (Shaun Tyas, 2017-06-16)
      This essay explores Fisher's writings in the years and months before his execution in June, 1535. The essay argues that Fisher's writings demonstrate efforts made by the prelate to reconcile his defence of the sacrament of marriage with his willingness to die for the Catholic faith. Fisher's works suggest that he believed it was only through martyrdom that the unity of the Church could be preserved and that he went to the scaffold willingly and with the belief that it would be efficacious in preventing further reform in England.
    • Monument and material reuse at the National Memorial Arboretum

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2014-05-16)
      Exploring the relocation and reuse of fragments and whole artefacts, materials and monuments in contemporary commemorative memorials in the United Kingdom (UK), this paper focuses on the National Memorial Arboretum (Alrewas, Staffordshire, hereafter NMA). Within this unique assemblage of memorial gardens, reuse constitutes a distinctive range of material commemoration. Through a detailed investigation of the NMA’s gardens, this paper shows how monument and material reuse, while used in very different memorial forms, tends to be reserved to commemorate specific historical subjects and themes. Monument and material reuse is identified as a form of commemorative rehabilitation for displaced memorials and provides powerful and direct mnemonic and emotional connections between past and present in the commemoration through peace memorials, of military disasters and defensive actions, the sufferings of prisoners of war, and atrocities inflicted upon civilian populations. In exploring monument and material reuse to create specific emotive and mnemonic fields and triggers, this paper engages with a hitherto neglected aspect of late 20th- and early 21st-century commemorative culture.
    • Towards an archaeology of cremation

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Academic Press, 2015-06-25)
      How can we begin to understand and explain the changing significance of cremation in past societies? From many parts of the world and for many periods of human history from as early as the Upper Palaeolithic (Bowler et al., 1980) to recent centuries, archaeologists have uncovered and investigated material evidence for the use of fire as a means of transforming and disposing of the dead. This chapter argues that in contrast to the rich and widespread evidence for cremation in the archaeological record, theoretical approaches in the archaeology of cremation have been relatively thin on the ground until very recently. This relative failure to adequately engage with the complexity and the variability of cremation practices across cultures seems connected to the fact that most of the theoretical debates and developments in mortuary archaeology have, until quite recently, been primarily geared to the investigation of unburned human remains. Therefore, alongside increasingly refined methodologies for investigating burnt bones, it is argued that archaeologists need to redress this imbalance by developing explicit theoretical approaches to the phenomenon of cremation. Such theories need to engage with broad cross-cultural themes and also remain sensitive to the considerable variety of mortuary procedures involving fire used at different times and in different places.
    • Viking Mortuary Citations

      Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2016-07-06)
      Introducing the European Journal of Archaeology’s special issue ‘Mortuary Citations: Death and Memory in the Viking World’, this article outlines the justification and theoretical framework underpinning a new set of studies on Viking-age mortuary and commemorative practice as strategies of mortuary citation. The contributions to the collection are reviewed in relation to strengths and weaknesses in existing research and broader themes in mortuary archaeological research into memory work in past societies.