Rural Archaeology Bulletin

A useful little 2 page publication, the Rural Archaeology Bulletin contains a brief summary of “events, policies and other news affecting archaeology and rural land management.”

Worth a look, contains some very handy links and can be downloaded for free from the Archaeology Scotland website:! Issue 33 has just been posted.

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The 14th Iron Age Research Student Seminar (or IARSS) is almost upon us – being held in Durham from 26th to 29th May. A full programme can be found here.

Some very interesting looking presentations – with a Scottish archaeology hat on I want to hear about Broxmouth and Paul Murtagh’s paper on the Iron Age in West Central Scotland. The ‘Wealth in Sheep’s Clothing’ paper looks very interesting as well (and not just because of the dubious pun) as it looks at the bronze age/iron age transition.

All in all, it looks like a very enjoyable couple of days!

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EMASS at Glasgow

EMASS (or the Early Medieval Archaeology Stduent Symposium) is being held at Glasgow University this year from 25th to 27th May. Lots to look forward to, including keynote lecture by Prof. Stephen Driscoll, a range of exciting papers, and a wine and whisky reception.

Looking forward to a lot of the papers, but with a Scottish archaeology hat on, I’m looking forward to: “A comparative study between Strathmore Pictish stones and monuments from Ireland, Wales and Scandinavia: First steps” by Anouk Busset (Lausanne/Glasgow) as well as papers on Iron Age Christianity and silver in Early Historic Scotland.

With a slightly more random hat on, this caught my eye: “How ‘bare’ were Magnus’ legs? Investigating ‘uniqueness’ in the early Viking Age” by Ben Cartwright (Cambridge).

More details on the website (and a Facebook page up as well).

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Lectures (online and in person)

The first of Prof. Roberta Gilchrist’s Dalyrymple lectures was held last night: The Medieval Life Course: Age and the Body. It was a brilliant example of in-depth research presented in a clear and engaging way. My enjoyment of the lecture was tempered by the fact that I’ll only be able to attend Thursday’s 4th lecture and will therefore miss the next two.

Luckily, that is no longer a problem for the Society’s lectures, as they are now recorded and put online. So you can listen to Dr David Clarke on Early Medieval Scotland and the Glenmorangie project, or Dr Fiona Tucker on the treatment of the dead in Iron Age Scotland, or Neil Wilkin on the Beakers and Bodies Project. Our Rhind lectures are also on-line, with Prof. Martin Carver and Prof. Trevor Watkins’ respective sets of six lectures available to view. 

As handy as it is to have lectures available on-line, nothing quite beats being in the audience for a particularly inspiring talk. For the Dalrymple lectures, this is aided by the impressive Sir Charles Wilson building.

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New Books

Two new books that are just coming out and set to make a splash (no pun intended). Submerged Prehistory

Submerged Prehistory

And the new Links of Noltland Report, Shifting Sands:

Shifting Sands: The Links of Noltland report

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Dalrymple Lectures: Medieval Lives: Archaeology and the Life Course

This year’s Dalrymple lectures begin tonight! More details can be found here:

The series of lectures is entitled: Medieval Lives: Archaeology and the Life Course and will be delivered by Professor Roberta Gilchrist (University of Reading) over the 14th-17th March, 2011 at Sir Charles Wilson Building, University of Glasgow (at the junction of Gibson Street and Kelvin Way).

The 4 lectures include:

1. The Medieval Life Course: Age and the Body

Monday 14th March, 6.30pm
The first lecture introduces the concept of ‘the life course’ and explores its application to understanding the experience of ageing in medieval England.  Rather than focus on successive stages of the biological lifecycle in isolation (such as childhood and old age), the model of the life course examines the experience of the human life as a continuum. It emphasizes the materiality of the body and the connections between phases in life, and it helps to clarify medieval ideas about life and death. Christian belief in the afterlife was premised on the material continuity of the body from conception, through life, to death, decay and resurrection. Medieval theories of the body are briefly introduced and the archaeological evidence for clothing is used to consider age as a key aspect of medieval social identity.  Additional insight into the personal experience of ageing is drawn from osteological analyses of skeletons excavated from medieval cemeteries.

2. Growing Up and Growing Old: the Medieval Household

Tuesday 15th March, 6.30pm
The household was established on marriage and was associated culturally with the attainment of adulthood. Marriage was celebrated as a pivotal life course ritual and it was elaborated through material culture which created the domesticity of the home. This lecture considers the material practices of the home and family which defined the extended medieval life course, beginning with conception and birth. The material practices of motherhood were central to the home and domestic devotion focused especially on fertility and the protection of newborns. Archaeology provides evidence for a distinctive material culture of children, confirming the substantial social investment that was made in medieval childhood as a formative stage of life. At the opposite end of the age-spectrum, special provision was made for ‘retired’ peasants who agreed to share their croft with young couples who wished to establish a home.
3. The Quick and the Dead: the Journey to the Afterlife (Wed 16 March, 6.30pm)

Wednesday 16th March, 6.30pm
Medieval belief in purgatory fostered the sense that death was not the end of life, but rather a distinct transitional stage in the cycle of the medieval life course.  The dead were understood to continue to exist in a parallel plane, as an ‘age-group’ that continued to influence the living. But the transition to the afterlife was surrounded by enormous anxiety, expressed in the widespread belief in ghosts, ghouls and the dancing dead.  This lecture examines the archaeology of the church and cemetery as a venue for interaction between the living and the dead.  Beliefs about the afterlife were expressed through the representation of the dead on tombs and conventions for burial of the dead. Archaeological evidence reveals that the idea of the Christian life course had a profound impact on burial practice: certain age groups were given special treatment in death and grave goods were sometimes placed with the dead in effort to assist the body in resurrection.

4. Heirlooms and Ancient Objects: Connecting the Lives of Medieval People and Things

Thursday 17th March, 7.30pm
The final lecture in the series draws together the biographies of medieval people and things. Archaeological evidence is considered for the ‘curation’ of heirlooms in the home and the use of ancient objects as Christian grave goods. What did old things mean to medieval people – why did they keep them, and how did they use them?  It is argued that heirlooms and antiquities were both considered to be special objects, but that the two categories were invested with a different agency by medieval people. Antiquities were objects recovered from the earth and perceived to be natural objects; they were not prized for any temporal association but for their connection to the occult power of nature. In contrast, heirlooms were biographical objects that were closely connected with life course rituals surrounding birth and marriage. In essence, heirlooms are the sinews which bind generations and forge the materiality of family memory.   
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2011 Rhind Lectures: Material and spiritual engagements

The programme for the 2011 Rhind lectures is now available. This will be the 132 in the series, stretching back to 1874. The lectures are free and open to all, though will be on a first come first served basis and are set to be extremely popular. If the worst happens and you find yourself somehow unable to make it along, the lectures will be recorded and posted online – as Rhind lectures by Prof. Martin Carver and Prof. Trevor Watkins have been.

Material and spiritual engagements; Britain and Ireland in the first age of metalMaterial and spiritual engagements; Britain and Ireland in the first age of metal

29 Apr 2011 – 01 May 2011

The Rhind Lectures presented by Dr Stuart Needham
Friday 29 April 6pm to Sunday 1 May 2011 Edinburgh

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