The site of New Place from the prehistoric to the early medieval period
William Mitchell and Kevin Colls
(forthcoming). Nash’s House,
Stratford-upon-Avon: Archaeological Excavations 2015
(Centre of Archaeology, University of Staffordshire).
Mullin , D .
( 2011 –12). Prehistoric Pottery
from New Place (unpublished).
Mulville , J .
( 2008 ).
‘Foodways and Social Ecologies from
the Middle Bronze Age
detailed ground plans of New Place remain. Information on the
appearance, location and significance of the house therefore comes from
later accounts, passing references and official documentation (such as
concords, rents and leases relating to the site), as well as
The earliest reference to a building on this plot is
Clopton’s own will of 1496: ‘my grete house in
around 1588 to October 1598, shortly before his death in January 1599. 2 Granted a 3000 acre estate by Elizabeth, Spenser repaired and improved the castle, a small medieval enclosure on a hilltop overlooking a marshy lake and bog. Its fate was to be burned and abandoned, then later used as a quarry for building stone. Archaeological fieldwork directed by the writer took place at Kilcolman from 1993 to 1996 to determine what evidence still existed for Spenser’s occupancy of the castle. The project was sponsored by Mercer University and the Earthwatch Foundation, with
Rolf Loeber, as well as growing numbers of archaeologists. 6
In the 1950s, the American colonies supplied archaeological evidence from such sites as Jamestown and Roanoke to supplement poorly documented histories. In the ensuing generation, what is called ‘historical archaeology’ in America and ‘post-medieval archaeology’ in Europe matured as a discipline, as the experience of hundreds of sites produced a broader and more reliable set of data for the material culture of the early modern British Isles and its overseas offshoots. This in turn
political and social changes in the last generations of Irish autonomy. It analyzes architectural types and techniques associated with the late Elizabethan colonization of Munster, which may be applicable to early modern Ireland in general. The chapter concludes with a study of the tower-house, which was used widely by both Irish aristocracy and English colonial landowners. A key period in Irish history, the reign of Elizabeth began with a medieval, semi-feudal society and ended with a central state authority and displaced populations.
The marvelous Priviledge of Brytish Impire … wealth and strength, foreign love and feare, and triumphant fame, the whole world over.
John Dee, 1577 1
This chapter examines the role of archaeology in the study of the Elizabethan colonization of southern Ireland. Initial foreign settlement by early modern European states, or by their authorized commercial organizations, are usefully characterized as the ‘proto-colonial phase’ of the epoch of modern colonial imperialism. For European
the archaeological evidence that was left behind.
Who was Sir John Clopton?
When Sir Edward Walker died in
1677, New Place and his other estates were left to his daughter Barbara.
Her marriage to Sir John Clopton, in 1662, helped to revive his
family’s fortunes. The knighthood of Sir John Clopton, which
occurred in the same year as his marriage, was probably a result of his
life. Art, as Shakespeare bodies it forth
on stage in this scene, can be life-giving, as well as socially
Representations of classical figures were also popular in
long galleries. A picture of Cleopatra hung in the Long Gallery at
Ingatestone Hall in Essex (where the King’s Men performed), along
with ‘a picture of Diana, two pictures of a turk (one male and one
Alas all the Castles I have, are built with ayre, thou know’st.
Ben Jonson, 1605 1
Ben Jonson’s comedy Eastward Ho reveals how the early seventeenth century still valued castles as important social possessions. The claim by an impecunious Sir Petronell to have a castle and estate, more than his title, attracted the social-climbing daughter of the rich goldsmith Touchstone. For purely military purposes, castles had become obsolete with successful French siege artillery in Normandy and
fabric’ of the city into the expansive metropolis of the eighteenth century.3 Further clarifying our understanding of Ireland’s landscape in the
past is work by the Irish Post-Medieval Archaeology Group, which shares
essential information on archaeological excavations in Ireland and literature relating to post-medieval archaeology, also publishing volumes that
correspond with the Group’s conference proceedings.4 Never before have
scholars had such a lively and complete impression of how early modern
Ireland may have looked.
Cultural and literary historians are