Society for Medieval Archaeology Winter Symposium 2023: 4th December at 12.30

Posted On: September 13th, 2023

Society for Medieval Archaeology Winter Symposium 2023 will take place on Monday 4th December 2023, online using Zoom at 12:30, immediately following the AGM. The Symposium will comprise three talks as listed below.

Online meeting link: 

Passcode: 504377 

12:30  After the Plague: Health and History in Medieval Cambridge 

Craig Cessford, Cambridge Archaeological Unit 

Between 2016 and 2021 the Wellcome Trust-funded project ‘After the Plague: health and history in medieval Cambridge’, based at the University of Cambridge, studied hundreds of skeletons from several High/Late Medieval cemeteries in Cambridge and its rural hinterland. Wide ranging analysis, including osteology, palaeopathology, ancient DNA, stable isotopes and geometric morphometrics was undertaken, much of it on an unprecedented scale for High/Late Medieval England. The project has emphasised the importance of attempting to ensure that assemblages are a genuinely representative cross-section of the population and identifies the potential to ‘deanonymize’ individuals in cemeteries that employed a largely uniform burial rite, by identifying different social groups. The presentation will also discuss the genetic identification of kinship and the pathogen associated with Plague. 

13:00  Reform of Treasure Law: What it Means for Protecting Medieval Finds 

Michael Lewis, Portable Antiquities Scheme 

As of 30 July 2023, the definition of Treasure (under the Treasure Act 1996) was extended to include items that ‘provide an exceptional insight into an aspect of national or regional history, archaeology or culture’ based on their rarity, location or connection with a person or event. As such, the Act provides an opportunity for museums to acquire important archaeological finds not previously protected. It also marks a significant break with defining Treasure, by assessing finds on their archaeological value over material composition, albeit the new definition is limited to metal finds and envisaged to have a high threshold regarding ‘significance’. In this talk, Michael Lewis will highlight the opportunity for protecting medieval finds.  

13:30  Late Medieval Lodging Ranges: The Architecture of Identity, Power and Space 

Sarah Kerr, University College Cork 

This talk draws on archaeological and architectural analysis of late medieval lodging ranges to show that they were some of the finest living spaces within the great house, built as accommodation for high-ranking members of the household. Their low-, even single-, occupancy rooms, accessible via individual doors, were innovatory, showing how the idea of privacy developed. The explicit displays of uniformity upon the lodging ranges’ symmetrical facades were juxtaposed with variations within. The paper demonstrates that lodging ranges simultaneously reflected and shaped medieval life, and that their very form and stones, and their manipulation of space, enabled them to have multi-faceted functions, including the representation of multiple and even conflicting identities.