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.
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
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 this stage. Nevertheless, some general observations are justified concerning the twelve-year Elizabethan colonial settlement, or ‘planting’, of Munster, because even limited fieldwork can significantly correct research all too dependent upon insufficient documentation. Elizabethan Ireland was certainly not the ‘brave new world’ that
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