The closest Shakespeare comes to
depicting an archaeological excavation is the clearing of a space for
Ophelia’s grave. Hamlet looks on (with Horatio), appalled at the
matter-of-factness with which the two clownish gravediggers set about
their task: skulls ‘knocked about the mazard with a sexton’s
spade ... Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at
This book provides an abundance of fresh insights into Shakespeare's life in relation to his lost family home, New Place. It first covers the first 6,000 years of the site, from its prehistoric beginnings through its development into a plot within the economic context of early medieval Stratford-upon-Avon, and the construction of the first timber-framed building. The book then describes the construction and distinctive features of Hugh Clopton's brick-and-timber house, the first New Place. Stratford-upon-Avon gave Shakespeare a deeply rooted love of family, loyal neighbours and friends, and although he came to enjoy a prominent social standing there, he probably had little or no time at all for its puritanical side. The book provides a cultural, religious and economic context for Shakespeare's upbringing; education, work, marriage, and early investments up to his son, Hamnet's death, and his father, John Shakespeare, being made a gentleman. It discusses the importance of New Place to Shakespeare and his family during the nineteen years he owned it and spent time there. The book also takes us to just beyond the death of Shakespeare's granddaughter, Elizabeth, Lady Bernard, the last direct descendant of Shakespeare to live in the house. It further gives an account of James Halliwell's acquisition of the site, his archaeology and how New Place has become an important focus for the local community, not least during the 'Dig for Shakespeare'.
This volume considers transnational and intercultural aspects of early modern
theatre, drama and performance. Its twelve chapters, loosely cosmographically
grouped into West, North and South, compose a complex image of early modern
theatre connections as a socially, economically, politically and culturally
realised tissue of links, networks, influences and paths of exchange. With
particular attention to itinerant performers, court festival, and the
significant black, Muslim and Jewish impact, they combine disciplines and
methods to place Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the wider context of
early performance culture in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Czech and
Italian speaking Europe. Their shared methodological approach examines
transnational connections by linking abstract notions of wider theatre
historical significance to concrete historical facts: archaeological findings,
archival records, visual artefacts, and textual evidence. Crucial to the volume
is this systematic yoking of theories with surviving historical evidence for the
performative event – whether as material object, text, performative routine,
theatregrams, rituals, festivities, genres, archival evidence or visual
documentation. This approach enables it to explore the infinite variety of early
modern performance culture by expanding the discourse, questioning the received
canon, and rethinking the national restrictions of conventional maps to reveal a
theatre that truly is without borders.
The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval
religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to
ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building,
idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church
was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a
time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and
dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the
material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity
and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside
liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which
the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of
the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the
book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by
the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were
constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and
significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval
religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and
academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English
with his family. His work commitments called him to London, but probably
never for very long: New Place was too large and socially significant a
house, and his entire family was based there. At least, that is the
picture that our archaeological investigations have led us to consider.
That is why we have subtitled this book ‘An archaeological
biography’: our excavations have had a palpable impact on how we
presents an overview of the site since the removal of the 1702 house,
and particularly focuses upon the archaeological projects that have
taken place during the last 150 years – namely that of
Halliwell-Phillipps and Dig for Shakespeare. These projects, although
separated in time, were conceived with the same intention: to
investigate the site of New Place in order to reveal evidence of
An archaeological perspective on the use of recipe books
13 For an example which incorporates most of these, see J. Unwin,
‘Conspicuous consumption: how to organise a feast’, in J. Symonds (ed.),
Table Settings: The Material Culture and Social Context of Dining, AD
1700–1900 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2010), pp. 41–51.
14 L. Weatherill, ‘A possession of one’s own: women and consumer behaviour
in England, 1660–1740’, Journal of British Studies, 25:2 (1986), 131–56; P.
Shackel, Personal Discipline and Material Culture: An Archaeology of
Annapolis, Maryland, 1695–1870 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press,
and are consequently difficult to find
in the archaeological record. Similarly, vegetables are grossly under-
represented, especially as they should be harvested before they produce
Castles and Colonists
seeds. They are usually visible only in waterlogged preservation conditions and require more specialized methods of recovery and analysis.
The types of food eaten on sites like Kilcolman are usually known from
documentary sources, which reveal social and cultural differences in diet.
Fynes Moryson mentioned
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
Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,– ...
And were the king on’t, what would I do?...
All things in common nature would produce
Without sweat or endeavour: treason, felony,
Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,
Would I not have: but nature should bring forth,
Of its own kind, all foison, all abundance,
To feed my innocent people.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1611
Proto-colonial archaeology of Elizabethan Ireland, particularly in the Irish
Republic, has only recently begun, and caution warns against advancing
firm conclusions at