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Workshop 2: New directions in archaeological methods for the Norman Conquest

Updated: Apr 2, 2018

On the 12th February, the Archaeology of the Norman Conquest Network held their second workshop at the University of Exeter. This time, our focus was on the methods employed by researchers (although we had already heard all about ancient DNA and chickens from Greger Larson at the last meeting).

We started off with a series of talks from scholars showcasing their divergent ways of approaching sources, from isotope analysis of cooking vessels, x-ray fluorescence and metalwork, to archaeological archives, molecular analysis of medieval manuscripts, and a horse’s eye view of events. These talks then opened up the space for discussion of the ways in which such projects might interact

and move forward our thinking on the “Norman Conquest,” as we began to think about how the questions and issues proposed in our first meeting might be addressed.

We followed this by some lunchtime tours of the Digital Humanities Lab at the university, learning about the different photography, audio-visual recording, and 3D scanning capabilities held by the lab. It was fantastic to hear all about the process and difficulties of 3D scanning objects, and the pros and cons of using this technology for heritage purposes.

For the rest of the afternoon, we spent time brainstorming the projects we want to see come out of this Network, and thinking how we might respond to the first Workshop, utilising the range of approaches discussed at this second. It was great to have a space to develop such project ideas in a room full of such a range of expertise, and it was excellent to see researchers from different disciplines and methodological standpoints coming together to exchange ideas and provide peer-to-peer feedback.

In the evening, there was a public lecture at the university on the interdisciplinary dialogue we wish to encourage by the Network: “Introducing New Approaches to Medieval Studies (History, meet Archaeology; Arts, meet the Sciences)”. This was delivered by Prof. Robin Fleming and Prof. Matthew Collins.

The talks were again live-streamed, and recordings of the individual talks can be found here.

You can see some of the items scanned by Exeter Digital Humanities by visiting their SketchFab page.

Our third and final workshop: “The impact of Norman Conquest archaeology on heritage and the public” will be on 26th April at the Norwich Castle Museum.


Matthew Collins, University of York: Developing a materially-focused research agenda for the 11th and 12th centuries

Andy Beeby, Durham University: From Molecules to Medieval Manuscripts

Ben Jervis, Cardiff University, and Lizzy Craig-Atkins, University of Sheffield: The Dietary Impact of the Norman Conquest: A Multi-Proxy Study of Oxford

Oliver Creighton, University of Exeter, Rob Liddiard, University of East Anglia, and Alan K. Outram, University of Exeter: Norman Archaeology Through the Horse's Eye

Rob Webley, University of York/Portable Antiquities Scheme: Using 'binding strips' to think about metalwork

Vanessa Castagnino, Department of Archaeology, University of York: The elemental highs and lows of x-ray fluorescence

Gareth Dean, University of Sheffield: Looking for Normans in the archaeological archives of York

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