Medieval Archaeology: Understanding Traditions and Contemporary Approaches

Medieval Archaeology: Understanding Traditions and Contemporary Approaches

Medieval Archaeology: Understanding Traditions and Contemporary Approaches

Medieval Archaeology: Understanding Traditions and Contemporary Approaches

Synopsis

This exciting new introduction to medieval archaeology looks critically at the discipline and analyses how it differs from prehistoric archaeology. It asks why we study it and how its study has made an impact on the public consciousness in films, books and TV programmes. Gerrard looks at the people and excavations that have been important in the development of the discipline while at the same time providing an essential synthesis of the core theory and methodology used. Topics covered include:*thinking about medieval archaeology*fieldwork*landscape*settlement.

Excerpt

The ‘Middle Ages’ traditionally describes the thousand years sandwiched between classical antiquity and modernity, between Rome and Renaissance. the term is usually used in the plural because there are several sub-eras. This book covers roughly the first half of the second millennium, between about 1000 and 1550 ad, a period variously referred to as ‘post-Conquest’ (in England) or the ‘Later’ or ‘High Middle Ages’, usually in order to differentiate it from the ‘early medieval’ or ‘Anglo-Saxon period’. ‘Later medieval archaeology’ is the term I have adopted in this book, but it is a convenience only, there is not even consensus in the spelling of ‘medieval’ and, of course, other countries adopt very different schemes and nomenclatures, so I have deliberately not defined my chosen start and end dates too closely. in this context, political and constitutional events, such as the battle of Hastings in 1066 or Bosworth Field in 1485, may serve historical or (English) national agendas well but their signature in the archaeological record may be less apparent and calls undue attention to the ‘joins’ between periods.

The emergence of later medieval archaeology as a productive sub-discipline has been one of the most significant achievements in the study of archaeology in the last hundred years. Before about 1950 medieval archaeology was not a recognised and coherent ‘subject’, though some of its components do have a much longer history of study. Today, few of the seventy-three departments in fifty-two institutions in the United Kingdom offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses with archaeology elements are without at least an optional medieval module or two (Henson 2000). Further opportunities abound for research at ma, MPhil and PhD level. in the space of fifty years or so what had been an interest for a small group of individuals has been woven into a respected sub-discipline defined by a particular set of practical and philosophical problems, equipped with its textbooks and mulled over by field units, lecturers, local government officers and museum staff.

Interest in later medieval archaeology in Britain is neither parochial nor restricted to academia. Sites and their excavators, books and their authors, are all widely known and discussed at European and world conference venues and can count on strong support, particularly in Australia, Canada, North

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