• 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.
    • 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.