• 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’.