Session: #39

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Recent Archaeological Investigation in Inhabited Medieval Rural Settlements: New Perspectives from Historic Communities Past and Present
The archaeological investigation of medieval rural settlements in Europe has a long history, but until recently this mostly focused on deserted villages. Recently, however, the archaeology of non-deserted medieval rural settlements (surviving today as villages, hamlets, farms and small towns) has received more attention. Research-driven interest has been stimulated by awareness that deserted settlements are a minority which may often be atypical, while there have also been sharp rises in the amount of excavation carried out within inhabited settlements in advance of development and, in some countries, community archaeological projects connecting rural residents with their local heritage.

Consequently, one way or another, much more medieval archaeological evidence is now available from inhabited rural medieval settlements than was the case a decade or so ago. However, knowledge of this can often remain restricted to those who were directly involved or local record curators.

This session invites those interested in the medieval archaeology of rural settlements to share recent discoveries, to explore what these are telling us that is new, how it helps us understand the past, and consider what our aspirations should be for the future. Papers will include presentations on specific sites or projects, synthesising overviews looking at ‘bigger pictures’, and provocative ‘think-pieces’ challenging current approaches.

Themes include:
• How is excavation and other fieldwork in inhabited rural settlements advancing understanding of their medieval development (origins, expansion, contraction, adaptation, recovery etc)?
• How do the trajectories of still-inhabited and permanently deserted settlements compare?
• How can evidence from inhabited rural settlement studies illuminate wider phenomena? (eg post- Roman change, Christianisation, Viking diaspora, climate change, conflict, the Black Death, resilience, Reformation etc).
• What are the opportunities and challenges for archaeological work in rural communities where today’s inhabitants may live in, above or around medieval remains?
medieval, inhabited rural settlement, villages, hamlets, synthesis, excavation
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Carenza Lewis (United Kingdom) 1
Heleen van Londen (Netherlands) 2
Arkadiusz Marciniak (Poland) 3
Pavel Vareka (Czech Republic) 4
1. University of Lincoln
2. University of Amsterdam
3. University of Poznan
4. University of West Bohemia