Session: #57

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

A Martial World or a Diverse Community? Gender, Social Stratification and Minorities on Castles
This session seeks to explore the everyday society living in a castle or a palace between the 8th and 17th centuries. While the ostensible major group of inhabitants – usually regarded as men in arms – seems to be well represented in written and archaeological data, other groups are less visible: For example, it is difficult to spot female inhabitants and children, but also minorities like vagrant minstrels, visitors or even the castle's or palace's owner and her/his family members. Another neglected dimension in castle research is religion outside the chapel building. Here, we could regard practices of prayer, the chaplan's living conditions, but we might also face diverging religious groups (Jews, Moslems Orthodox, Catharists, Protestants and further denominations) within the castle walls. In this session, we want to discuss the subsequent questions with a departure point in medieval and renaissance castles and palaces in Central Europe and beyond:
In how far are specific object types markers for social or religious groups?
Is it possible to use combinations of objects for their identification?
How does the interpretation of spatial concepts (e.g. apartment, chapel, bower) contribtute to revealing neglected spheres?
How do archaeological sources witness the temporality of social spheres?
How does a gender bias influence research?
In how far does a comparative approach between different European regions improve our knowledge?

Contributions presenting individual case studies or more general surveys on methodical approaches and sources are welcome.
Castles, Middle Ages, Historical Archaeology, gender, diversity, minorities
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Rainer Atzbach (Denmark) 1
Markus Blaich (Germany) 2
Claudia Theune (Austria) 3
1. Aarhus University
2. Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege
3. University of Vienna