• 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.
    • Death’s diversity: the case of Llangollen Museum

      Williams, Howard; Evans, Suzanne; University of Chester (Equinox, 2019-01-01)
      Much of the debate regarding mortuary archaeology’s public interactions has centred on the ethics and politics of displaying articulated skeletal material and fleshed bodies. In contrast, multiple, fragmented, dislocated and cenotaphic mortuary traces which populate museums across the UK have escaped sustained attention. Local and town museums, and also the distinctive narratives required in Welsh museums, have also eluded consideration. This chapter explores how smaller museums create environments in which networks are created both with other memorial places and landscapes in the vicinity, and between discrete museum displays. This chapter focuses on one case study—Llangollen Museum—to present and inter- rogate how a diversity of mortuary material culture combine to create a mortuary network associated with local history, heritage and landscape in this distinctive North Welsh context.
    • Placing the Pillar of Eliseg: Movement, Visibility and Memory in the Early Medieval Landscape

      Murrieta-Flores, Patricia; Williams, Howard; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis/Society for Medieval Archaeology, 2017-06-19)
      The landscape context of the early 9th-century monument known as the Pillar of Eliseg is interrogated here for the first time with GIS-based analysis and innovative spatial methodologies. Our interpretation aims to move beyond regarding the Pillar as a prominent example of early medieval monument reuse and a probable early medieval assembly site. We demonstrate that the location and topographical context of the cross and mound facilitated the monument’s significance as an early medieval locus of power, faith and commemoration in a contested frontier zone. The specific choice of location is shown to relate to patterns of movement and visibility that may have facilitated and enhanced the ceremonial and commemorative roles of the monument. By shedding new light on the interpretation of the Pillar of Eliseg as a node of social and religious aggregation and ideological power, our study has theoretical and methodological implications for studying the landscape contexts of early medieval stone monuments.
    • Vlog to death: Project Eliseg's video-blogging

      Tong, Joe; Evans, Suzanne; Williams, Howard; Edwards, Nancy; Robinson, Gary; University of Chester (2015-05-31)
      Project Eliseg involved three field seasons (2010–12) of survey and excavation at the multi-period mortuary and commemorative monument known as the Pillar of Eliseg, near Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales. Each season incorporated an evolving range of media and public engagement activities, with digital media employed to disseminate ongoing work both globally and locally, including to those unable to access the site during the excavation seasons. One of the key strategies employed via digital media in seasons 2 and 3 was a daily video-blog (hereafter: vlog). This article presents and appraises the rationale, design, content and reception of the Project Eliseg vlog revealing key lessons in the use of digital media in archaeological fieldwork, particularly for those engaged with the archaeology of death, burial and commemoration.