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Carole Rawcliffe

Many current assumptions about health provision in medieval English cities derive not from the surviving archival or archaeological evidence but from the pronouncements of Victorian sanitary reformers whose belief in scientific progress made them dismissive of earlier attempts to ameliorate the quality of urban life. Our own tendency to judge historical responses to disease by the exacting standards of modern biomedicine reflects the same anachronistic attitude, while a widespread conviction that England lagged centuries behind Italy in matters of health and hygiene seems to reinforce presumptions of ‘backwardness’ and ‘ignorance’. By contrast, this paper argues that a systematic exploration of primary source material reveals a very different approach to collective health, marked by direct intervention on the part of the crown and central government and the active involvement of urban communities, especially after the Black Death of 1348-49. A plethora of regulations for the elimination of recognized hazards was then accompanied by major schemes for environmental improvement, such as the introduction of piped water systems and arrangements for refuse collection.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Society, economy and environment, c. 1300–1650

Tower houses are the ubiquitous building of pre-modern Ireland. A type of castle, the tower house was constructed c.1350–1650, and extant examples number in the thousands. This book examines the social role of the tower house in late medieval and early modern Ireland. It uses a multidisciplinary methodology to uncover the lived experience of a wide range of people. This enables exploration of the castle’s context, including how it was used as a social tool and in environmental exploitation for economic gain. By challenging traditional interpretations of the Middle Ages we find new evidence for the agency of previously overlooked individuals, and thus a new insight into the transition from medieval to modern. Each chapter in the book builds on the one preceding, to echo the movement of trade good from environmental exploitation to entry into global economic networks, keeping focus on the role of the tower house in facilitating each step. By progressively broadening the scope, the conclusion is reached that the tower house can be used as a medium for analysing the impact of global trends at the local level. It accomplishes this lofty goal by combining archival evidence with archaeological fieldwork and on-site survey to present a fresh perspective on one of the best-known manifestations of Irish archaeology.

Managing madness in early nineteenth-century asylums

An archaeology of lunacy examines the historic lunatic asylum from an interdisciplinary perspective, employing methods drawn from archaeology, social geography, and history to create a holistic view of the built heritage of the asylum as a distinctive building type. In the popular imagination, historic lunatic asylums were dark, monolithic, and homogenous, instruments for social confinement and punishment. This book aims to redress this historical reputation, showing how the built environment and material worlds of lunatic asylums were distinctive and idiosyncratic – and highly regional. They were also progressive spaces and proving grounds of architectural experimentation, where the reformed treatment practices known as moral management were trialled and refined. The standing remains of the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum system represent a unique opportunity to study a building-type in active transition, both materially and ideologically. When they were constructed, asylums were a composite of reform ideals, architectural materials, and innovative design approaches. An archaeological study of these institutions can offer a materially focused examination of how the buildings worked on a daily basis. This study combines critical analysis of the architecture, material remains, and historical documentary sources for lunatic asylums in England and Ireland. Students and scholars of later historical archaeology and built heritage will find the book a useful overview of this institutional site type, while historians of medicine will find the focus on interior design and architecture of use. The general public, for whom asylums frequently represent shadowy ruins or anonymous redevelopments, may be interested in learning more about the buildings.

An archaeological biography

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'.

Paul Hindle

longer in use, then, not having been engineered, they are likely to have disappeared. On the other hand, if they have remained in use they will have had a more modern road constructed on top, burying or destroying any archaeological evidence of the medieval road. In order to trace medieval roads, therefore, one must begin in the library rather than in the field. There is documentary and map evidence that can suggest which Roman roads remained in use and where medieval roads came into use. All this evidence will help to link together the widely scattered and difficult

in Roadworks
Eric Klingelhofer

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

in Castles and Colonists
The tower house complex and rural settlement
Victoria L. McAlister

landscape study has a longer history in England than in Ireland. This is in no small part because extensive investigation of the immediate landscape context of tower houses has been hampered by a lack of material evidence. However, there is a significant body of work on different facets of Ireland's rural landscape, including study of medieval rural settlement. O’Conor ( 1998 ) has noted that since we see castles today as isolated in the landscape, we tend to lack the imagination to envisage how this was not always the case. Tower houses, too, have a tendency to be

in The Irish tower house
Open Access (free)
Troubling race, ethnicity, and masculinity in Beowulf
Catalin Taranu

reading and listening, it is anxiety that gathered so many audiences around Beowulf for so long a time. The purpose of this chapter, then, is to probe some of the points in the poem that trouble certain audiences in order to understand the ways in which these communities function emotionally in relation to the text. In particular, I pursue this work of emotional archaeology by tracing anxieties around masculinity, ethnicity, and race that found their expression in Beowulf – and that different audiences have projected on to it, first in Beowulf's sexualized encounter

in Dating Beowulf
Abstract only
Medieval Britain, medieval roads
Editors: Valerie Allen and Ruth Evans

This collection of essays on roads in Britain in the Middle Ages addresses the topic from a cultural, anthropological and literary point of view, as well as a historical and archaeological one. Taking up Jacques Derrida's proposal that 'the history of writing and the history of the road' be 'meditated upon' together, it considers how roads ‘write’ landscapes. The anthology sets Britain’s thoroughfares against the backdrop of the extant Roman road system and argues for a technique of road construction and care that is distinctively medieval. As well as synthesizing information on medieval road terminology, roads as rights of passage and the road as an idea as much as a physical entity, individual essays look afresh at sources for the study of the medieval English road system, legal definitions of the highway, road-breaking and road-mending, wayfinding, the architecture of the street and its role in popular urban government, English hermits and the road as spiritual metaphor, royal itineraries, pilgrimage roads, roads in medieval English romances, English river transport, roads in medieval Wales, and roads in the Anglo-Scottish border zone.

Vinland and historical imagination

From Iceland to the Americas, an anthology of thirteen original critical essays, is an exercise in the reception of a small historical fact with wide-ranging social, cultural, and imaginative consequences. Medieval records claim that around the year 1000 Leif Eiriksson and other Nordic explorers sailed westwards from Iceland and Greenland to a place they called Vinland. Archaeological evidence has in fact verified this claim, though primarily by way of one small, short-lived Norse settlement in Newfoundland, which may not even have been Leif’s. Whether or not this settlement was his, however, the contact associated with him has had an outsized impact on cultural imagination in and of the Americas. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, indeed, novels, poetry, history, politics, arts and crafts, comics, films and video games have all reflected a rising interest in the medieval Norse and their North American presence. Uniquely in reception studies, From Iceland to the Americas approaches this dynamic between Nordic history and its reception by bringing together international authorities on mythology, language, film, and cultural studies, as well as on the literature that has dominated critical reception. Collectively, the essays not only explore the connections among medieval Iceland and the modern Americas, but also probe why medieval contact has become a modern cultural touchstone.