Medieval Archaeology

Medieval Archaeology

Available now Medieval Archaeology: Vol 67, No 1 (

I’m very pleased to announce that issue 67.1 of Medieval Archaeology has now been published online and the print copy should be arriving with members shortly. The content in this issue includes seven original articles focusing on new research from Britain, the Netherlands and Italy, covering both the early and late medieval periods.

The issue starts with an article by Rhiannon Comeau, Andy Seaman and Anna Bloxam, which investigates an interesting decrease in activity in the later 6th and 7th centuries, using hillforts and corn-drying kilns as proxies. It considers the potential impacts of the Justinianic plague, climate change and population decline, but also the role of Christianisation on the use of the landscape. The authors challenge some of the traditional grand narratives with an interdisciplinary approach rooted in a robust chronological framework.

Letty ten Harkel, Robert van Dierendonck, Eleanor Farber, Michael Dee, Petra Doeve, Helena Hamerow, Esther Jansma, Petrus Le Roux, Raphaël Panhuysen and Pieterjan Deckers consider the cemeteries of the early medieval North Sea emporia. Drawing on data from the burial population of the Domburg area in the Netherlands, they combine a range of complementary techniques – isotopic analyses, radiocarbon dating, biological anthropology and dendrochronology, as well as more conventional archaeological data – to ask important questions about the people who were buried there and where they originated from.

Solange Bohling, Karina Croucher and Jo Buckberry investigate physical impairment and disability in England in the 5th and 6th centuries. Drawing on a large dataset of individuals from nine early medieval cemeteries, they examine multiple lines of evidence including burial rites and palaeopathology both within and across sites. Their findings suggest a broad spectrum of attitudes to the treatment of impaired individuals at death, reflecting a similar variety of social identities in life.

Janet E Kay and István Koncz survey archaeological approaches to mass graves and multiple burials in different regions of Late Antique and early medieval Europe. They consider the variety of definitions used by archaeologists and suggest an alternative system of classification, one that is based on the purpose of burial, rather than the number of individuals buried together. They argue that multiple burials should be regarded as continuations of normative burial practices, whilst mass graves on the other hand, reflect concerns relating to the disposal of the large numbers of corpses.

Youri van den Hurk, Ian Riddler, Krista McGrath and Camilla Speller consider new evidence for whale hunting in early medieval England. Drawing on the substantial assemblage of cetacean bones discovered at the site of Hamwic, they identify the prevalence of North Atlantic right whale remains using ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry). This is combined with sporadic references in the written record to confirm that whale bones used for manufacturing were infrequently obtained from stranded individuals and trade.

Eljas Oksanen and Michael Lewis present a new spatial and chronological analysis of small metal finds recorded in Pas (Portable Antiquities Scheme) to evaluate socio-economic change in the 14th century. The variety of portable objects recovered points to improvements in living standards and case studies of buckles and strap ends are presented. They identify how a broader range of metals became used for a greater variety of dress accessories, with an increase in white metals over copper-alloy or gilded ones. Expensive materials such as silver were then emulated by the peasantry using cheaper metals, such as tin or lead. The use of lead alloys also lent itself to more complex forms at affordable prices, as evidenced by pilgrim souvenirs and other badges.

Finally, Trent M Trombley, Caroline J Goodson and Sabrina C Agarwal provide a novel interdisciplinary study of oral health in later medieval Europe, with a case study of the cemetery from Villamagna in central Italy. They reframe traditional research questions regarding dentition to consider broader social and economic aspects. In doing so, they explore cultural understandings of the mouth which began to change in the late medieval period, reflecting shifts in religious thinking and medicine. Detailed osteobiographies are presented for two adults from Villamagna, connecting oral health with local community contexts.

The articles are followed by 29 book reviews of recent publications on medieval topics from across Europe, which will help readers keep up to date with the newest research in the field. I hope you all enjoy this volume and the editorial team look forward to bringing you the next one at the end of 2023.

Aleks Pluskowski, Honorary Editor of Medieval Archaeology

Information about the Journal

The Honorary Editor welcomes original submissions of international significance, or national significance and international interest, which match the objectives of the Society. Information on submitting research articles and shorter contributions can be found on the How to Contribute page. For details of how to submit fieldwork summaries and highlights for publication, see the Medieval Britain and Ireland page. Please send books for review directly to the Reviews and Medieval Britain and Ireland Editor.

The Society annually awards the Martyn Jope Award of £200 for the best novel interpretation, application of analytical method or presentation of new findings published in its journal.

Volumes 1 to 50 of our journal are now available free-of-charge online via ADS, while volumes 44 onwards are available online for our members at Taylor and Francis Online.

The Index to Volumes 51-55 of Medieval Archaeology is now available as a downloadable PDF.

For information on rights and permissions, please read the instructions here.

We are interested in your feedback on how you read the society’s journal and monographs, and your thoughts about their features and value.  We would really appreciate it if you would consider completing a short survey, which can be found here. This survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.