Did England have an Ancient Growth Spurt?

The Times published an article this morning which serves as a cautionary lesson in irresponsible archaeological reporting. The article’s problemsĀ are subtle, but important. The article describes a new study of medieval population demographics outside Winchester, in England. I haven’t read the study yet (I intend to, though), and it’s probably very good. This post isn’t […]

The flesh eaters of Civaux

We’ve been staying in Poitiers for the past week, and this morning Bonnie Effros took us on a tour of the Merovingian (and modern) cemetery at Civaux. It’s an incredible place, and I’m mostly going to let the pictures speak for themselves. But in brief, something like 15,000 stone sarcophagi ¹ were buried in this […]

We no longer play at war

Personal reflections on this day’s violence I looked at a spearhead made from recycled metal last month in Cambridge. The metal was from all sorts of different sources – good steel, broken weapons, things with stories and histories. Some of it was almost certainly gathered from old Roman ruins, and I think its owner was […]

Mapping early Anglo-Saxon spears

Where did people bury the dead with spears? Where did people live? Can Britain’s physical landscape tell us anything about society in the early middle ages? I say that I study ‘Anglo-Saxon England’, but really there was no such thing in the fifth and sixth centuries. Britain was briefly united under the Roman Empire, but […]

Loving a Leper

Most of us are familiar with leprosy from Sunday School (or Ben Hur!), and we know how serious it was to be diagnosed with the disease in the premodern world. Leviticus spells out the quarantine procedure for the infected that influenced later medieval attitudes toward the disease: ‘he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be […]

Lifting cremations at Lyminge

In my final two days volunteering at Lyminge, we began to excavate the cremations in the center of the Bronze Age barrow. We lifted the four cremations as soil blocks, so they could be properly excavated later in controlled conditions. Here’s a photo of us cutting around the block to prepare it for excavation (me […]

Second week at Lyminge

This dig has been incredible, and today was particularly exciting. I was tasked to dig a square in the midden spread (trash heap), and I discovered some thrilling finds, including this square headed brooch. It was made of a copper alloy in the late 5th century (right after the fall of the Western Roman Empire). […]