2019 - 2020 Lecture Programme

2019

9 OCTOBER: 'Re-Discovering Ava: the Achavanich Beaker Burial project' (Due to severe travel disruption, this lecture had to be postponed and will be rescheduled for 2020 - 2021. Prof John Collis kindly agreed to present an impromptu lecture which was only at draft stage, 'Celts and the end of Roman Britain'.)
by Maya Hoole
Discovered in 1987, the beaker burial cist from Craig-na-feich, Achavanich, Caithness was mostly forgotten about for nearly 30 years until its chance re-discovery in 2014. Over the following few years, a wide range of research was undertaken to try and better understand the individual interred in the burial, including: ancient DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating, bone histology, stable isotope analysis, pollen residue analysis, as well as pottery and osteological reports and a facial reconstruction. The results have revealed remarkable detail about Copper Age/Early Bronze Age Caithness and have been successfully disseminated to engage people across the globe.
This research was published in the 2017/18 Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and won the coveted R B K Stevenson award.

13 NOVEMBER: 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. lectures
3 p.m. Early Career Lectures from University of Leicester and University College Galway:

'Fantastic Beasts and a Bovine Resurrection’
by Dr Emily Banfield (University of Leicester)
Cattle were important in Early Neolithic Britain. Their remains form a ubiquitous presence in monumental structures of this date, and their treatment therein is markedly different from that of all other animals. My recently completed research into the role and meaning of faunal remains from Wiltshire long barrows has revealed a wealth of human-animal relations ‘presenced’ in the archaeological material, and confirms the central significance of the human-cattle relationship. This paper will present some of the findings of this research, from the creation in the Neolithic of human-cattle composites, the ‘fantastic beasts’ of the title (with apologies to J.K. Rowling), neither one species nor the other but something else, with potential to make a difference in the world; to a bovine individual who died twice.

'Material Culture and Castle Studies: is there a methodological problem?'
by Dr Karen Dempsey (University College Galway)
Studies of medieval castles typically do not include material culture. This is an issue. The things that people made, used, loved and carefully deposited or discarded are a vital part of our investigations into understanding people's everyday lives. But, finding a methodological solution to remedy this absence is not straightforward. There are problems faced when trying to incorporate material culture more firmly into castle-studies.

In this paper, I will explore some of the challenges faced during my current Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship that sought to re-entangle material culture and castles. I will showcase my findings of what a characteristic material assemblage of castle sites constitutes. Finally, by foregrounding material culture I will investigate how things at medieval castles are revealing of the identities of people living and working there. It is in daily life and practices that social values are constructed, enacted and reflected.

"On Monday last, a curious relic was discovered”: archaeology in the nineteenth-century provincial press
by Heather Keeble (University of Leicester)
The paradox of archaeology in the nineteenth century was that the parties interested in the past were largely middle and upper class, whilst the people who made most of the discoveries were labourers. The most likely place to find out about these chance finds is in contemporary accounts from local newspapers. The labourer’s decision making process, of whether to report a find and who to report to, had a huge impact on the survival of archaeological material and on the dissemination of archaeological knowledge. This paper focuses on two case studies with a Roman past, York and Ilkley, tracking the flow of archaeological information from the point of discovery through to the press and crossing over into the ‘professional’ sphere of journals. It reveals the bias of the information that is later claimed as ‘fact’ and which guided the development of archaeology in its formative years.

5 p.m. 'Hydraulic Borders? The Ebb and Flow of Wat’s Dyke and Offa’s Dyke'
by Professor Howard Williams
This talk presents new thinking and observations on the archaeology of Britain’s largest early medieval monuments – Offa’s Dyke and Wat’s Dyke. I show how these linear earthworks interacted with water on multiple scales and in contrasting fashions. From their placement in relation to watersheds, streams and rivers, to their landscape contexts of wetlands, estuaries and seas, the monuments have much in common, but also significant hydraulic differences in their design and placement. In understanding the military, territorial, economic and ideological functions and significance of these middle Anglo-Saxon (late 8th/early 9th-century) ‘Mercian frontier works’, I argue we must approach them with ‘fluid’, not land-locked, perspectives.

11 DECEMBER: 'The Boxgrove Horse Butchery Site: Solving a Puzzle from the Deep Past'
by Dr Matthew Pope
The internationally important Palaeolithic site of Boxgrove is an incredible, high-resolution record of human behaviour dating to almost half a million years ago. A series of activity areas, concentrations of stone tools, sometimes accompanied by faunal remains, are preserved in sediments left behind during the silting up and eventual burial of a large embayment now located in West Sussex. This lecture focuses on one such locality, named the Horse Butchery Site, where evidence for the dismemberment of a horse was perfectly preserved in the silts and clays of intertidal mudflats. Extensive programmes of refitting have since been undertaken to piece back together the hundreds flint artefacts to establish what activities was taking place at the site. The results show a vivid picture of an early human group working over a period of just a few hours to make the tools necessary to butcher a large horse. We consider what short, intense periods of activity mean in both the evolution of human social behaviour and landscape use.

2020

8 JANUARY: 'From the Romans to the Saxons: results from the archaeological fieldwork at the site of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square'
by Alison Telfer
Excavations at the site in 2006–7 produced evidence for a fascinating sequence of activity from the time of the Roman Conquest to the 19th century, which included sarcophagi, Saxons and 17th-century shops. The burial succession, in particular, is impressive in its apparent continuity, one rarely seen elsewhere, and makes a case for Saxon Lundenwic having Roman origins.

12 FEBRUARY: 'Anglo-Saxon timber buildings: archaeological evidence for the forms and the processes of construction'
by Dr Mark Gardiner
The methods and practices of erecting later medieval timber-framed buildings are well understood. Our knowledge allows us to interpret the remains of buildings, even if only fragments still remain. However, buildings constructed before 1200 used very different techniques. Instead of depending on a few principal posts to carry the weight of the structure, they used numerous posts to carry the roof and support the infill of the walls. Very few buildings of that earlier tradition still remain upstanding, and they only survive in a very partial form. Instead, the evidence for construction must rely upon the interpretation of excavated remains. From a close study of the evidence, it is possible to suggest how the buildings were laid out and constructed. This suggests that construction of Anglo-Saxon building followed a very different approach to later ones.

11 MARCH: 'A Distinctive Neolithic in Devon, Cornwall and Scilly? Recent work on ceramics, axes and other things'
by Henrietta Quinnell
Numerous ceramic assemblages from two decades of developer funded excavations now cover all phases of the Neolithic, while research into potential axe sources has provided new perspectives on production in Cornwall. This data will be examined against a background of causewayed enclosures in Devon and tor enclosures in Cornwall for the Early Neolithic and the apparent (?) scarcity of monuments of later date. Work on Scilly has provided a few chronological surprises. How far can the Neolithic of the area be now regarded as regionally distinctive and how much internal variation can now be perceived?

8 APRIL: 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. lectures
3 p.m. Work by the Roman Roads Research Association:

'Changing the Map: how lidar data is transforming our understanding of the Roman road network in North West England'
by David Ratledge
Until recently, the network of Roman roads serving the dense concentration of Roman forts in North-Western England was only poorly understood, with long stretches where routes were lost. Traditional research methods, such as field walking and aerial-photography, had just about been exhausted. Fortunately, imagery derived from LiDAR data can often reveal the surviving remains of the agger, terraces, side ditches and cuttings, where they cannot be easily identified through traditional fieldwork.
Using LiDAR, many missing pieces have now been found, along with previously unknown roads and some major surprises. In one instance, the destination of a supposedly well-known major road was shown to be incorrect and in another, a fort believed to be at the end of a cul-de-sac was found to be on two previously unknown routes into Scotland. Clearly, without an understanding of the Roman road network establishing the roles of forts can be fraught with errors.

'New light on old roads: Watling Street, Stane Street, and their children'
by Rob Entwistle
No Roman roads in Britain are better known than Watling Street from Canterbury to London, and Stane Street from London to Chichester. This lecture explores the evidence for planning lines underpinning their routes, and what those may have to say about Roman strategic intentions in the earliest days of the new province. We examine and offer an explanation for the fabled accuracy of Watling Street in leading to Westminster, and of Stane Street in leading to Chichester East Gate, suggesting that both may be best understood as part of a network. If the analysis is correct it implies strategic planning that, from an unexpectedly early date, gave a role to the future site of London as the gateway to imperial control of Britain.

'Pushing Forwards: new evidence for pre-Flavian Roman penetration into Brigantia'
by Mike Haken
Until recently, it was generally accepted that apart from occasional incursions into the kingdom of the Brigantes to assist Queen Cartimandua, the Romans had no permanent presence in northern Britain until Brigantia was absorbed into the Empire in approximately AD71. However, the discovery of a substantial pre-Flavian settlement at Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire, during the recent A1 widening scheme, suggests that Imperial interaction with Brigantia whilst it was still a client kingdom of Rome might have been more intensive and complex than previously thought.

This lecture will examine on-going research by the Roman Roads Research Association, which includes broad scale geophysical survey and analysis of both recent aerial photography and LiDAR data. The research has already provided tantalising suggestions of a pre-Flavian Roman military presence within Brigantia along a corridor stretching from the so-called vexillation fortress at Rossington, near Doncaster, towards the oppidum at Stanwick, north of Richmond.

5 p.m. 'Churches in the Irish Landscape, 400-1100'
by Dr Tomás Ó Carragáin
Between the fifth century and the ninth, several thousand churches were founded in Ireland, a higher density than in most other regions of Europe. This period saw fundamental changes in settlement patterns, agriculture, social organisation and beliefs, and churches are an important part of that story. Adopting a landscape archaeology approach, this lecture offers a broad overview of the main trends: the establishment of the earliest churches, often near royal sites, in the period 400-550; the proliferation of major monasteries and lesser churches in the period 550-800; and finally changes in the period 800-1100 when some lesser churches were abandoned while more substantial community churches began to exert a greater gravitational pull. By considering the placement of churches in relation to pagan ritual sites, royal sites, burial grounds and settlements, and how they fared over the centuries, we can begin to discern the shifting strategies of kings, ecclesiastics and ordinary people. Similarities and contrasts with the situation in parts of Britain will also be highlighted.

13 MAY: To Be Confirmed

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