I’m very pleased to announce that issue 66.1 of Medieval Archaeology has now been published online and the print copy will soon be arriving with members. This is the first volume that I have overseen as Honorary Editor, with Duncan Wright as Deputy Editor.
The content in this issue includes six original articles focusing on new medieval research from north-western Europe, particularly England and southern Scandinavia, alongside Spain and Croatia, and ranging in date from the 6th to 16th centuries. Three of the articles are concerned with funerary rites, the others with urban defences, settlements and decorated objects.
Emma Brownlee’s article offers the first detailed and comparative look at English bed burials within their European context. Drawing on 72 examples of this relatively unusual rite from across north-western Europe, in England these burials are largely those of adult women in the 7th century. Whilst various interpretations for the origins and spread of bed burials are discussed, the author argues their presence in England is connected with women’s mobility and Christianisation.
Pilar Diarte-Blasco, Manuel Castro-Priego and Lauro Olmo-Enciso present the integrated study of the defences of the royal Visigothic city of Reccopolis in central Spain. Urban defences often have complex biographies, and here the authors draw on excavations, LiDAR surveys, photogrammetry and radiocarbon dating to examine their topographic context and propose a refined chronology. They argue for the unique nature of this defensive circuit within Iberia, although topography and issues of defensibility were similarly influential in the design of other Byzantine military structures.
Pia Šmalcelj Novaković considers the evidence for the late Avar period in 8th and 9th century Croatia, which has increased substantially thanks to rescue excavations conducted in advance of infrastructure projects in the last few decades. The largest concentration of sites has been located in Syrmia, the easternmost part of Croatia. This has provided the opportunity for exploring Byzantine influences on late Avar period communities, and prompted new questions regarding the regionally varied nature of settlement in the century leading up to state formation.
Peter Pentz’s article considers how Scandinavians in the Viking Age responded to Christian books and writing culture through a detailed re-examination of four well-known monuments and finds: the Jelling Stone, the Ladby ship burial, the warrior pendant from Eketorp and the Langeid sword. Drawing on comparative examples of insular manuscripts, he argues that whilst Scandinavians did not adopt a Christian textual culture, they did adapt elements of books, particularly regarding the supernatural agency of such objects which incorporated both Christian and pre-Christian beliefs and values.
Roberta Gilchrist’s article considers how the archaeological study of late medieval burials has changed in recent decades, drawing on examples from northern and central Europe. Her study reveals a turn towards the study of micro-scale traditions, prompted by methodological innovations that have uncovered a broader spectrum of funerary rites. Once neglected, child and infant burials have also seen more attention, whilst the popular study of so-called ‘deviant’ or non-normative burials has become more critical. She highlights the potential of contemporary social values assigned to the medieval dead, which have prompted growing interests in biographical narratives, as well as ethnical challenges when dealing with the burials of named historical individuals and graves connected with living religions.
Finally, Craig Cessford and his co-authors present a detailed and contextualised study of clothed burial at the cemetery of the Augustinian friary in Cambridge, dating to the late 13th – 14th century. They focus on belt buckles, common artefacts which were mass produced and widely used, but often recovered from contexts that are disassociated from their wearers. Dress accessories are rarely found in late medieval cemeteries, but in the case of the Cambridge friary, buckles made from a range of materials including copper alloy, iron and bone were found in 50% of the excavated burials. The authors connect them with regularised use of clothed burial by the Augustinian Order.
There are also book reviews of 32 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 in the winter.
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.
The Index to Volumes 51-55 of Medieval Archaeology is now available as a downloadable PDF.
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