Annual Conference

“Cultures of Cloth”

The Archaeology of Textiles in Medieval Northwest Europe

Society for Medieval Archaeology Annual Conference

 Virtual Conference

24 July 2021

Following the postponement of last year’s Annual Conference, the Society will hold a free online day-conference for members on the archaeology of textiles.

See the programme here!

Textiles were the single most important manufactured product in the medieval world. Moving from domestic household production to the commercialisation of the textile industry was a primary driver in the development of the medieval European economy and helped to shape medieval landscapes and settlements ranging from rural villages to international cities. Textiles were one of the most prominent commodities in medieval trade networks; wool and linen were the stuff of everyday life while silks, damasks and cloth of gold were among the most valuable luxuries in the medieval world. Textiles were used as clothes, bedding, tablecloths, wall-hangings, sails, sacks, altar-cloths and shrouds; they were integral to every aspect of the routine and ritual lives of people in the middle ages, through which they expressed identities based on geography, status, gender, age and ethnicity. For better or for worse, spreading disease and depopulation as well as wealth, opportunities and knowledge, cloth production and trade inter-connected communities of all sizes across Europe, surviving and driving a millennium of profound social, economic, political and environmental change.


This conference brings together a group of speakers who together will address key themes in textile production, exchange and consumption across the medieval period in Britain and NorthWestern Europe, from a multitude of different disciplinary perspectives. The papers offered range from evidence for sheep husbandry and textile production, to archaeological finds of preserved textiles, and the production and display of silk as one of the key luxury textiles in both the secular and ecclesiastical worlds. Together, they will explore how textiles drew together networks of farmers, craftspeople and merchants across the medieval world and wove together the fabric of medieval life.

The event will be held online on Saturday 24 July 2021 hosted by the University of Nottingham.

Please go to the Conference website for details on how to book.

Contact the conference organizer Dr Chris King (Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Nottingham) at


Past conferences

You can find out information about our recent conferences on our past conferences web page.