My research explores the social and technological transformations which followed the end of Roman rule in southeast Britain, during the years 400-700 CE. I use both written and archaeological sources, and I am particularly curious about how new methods of craft production created new kinds of material experiences, social identities, and communities in Late Antique / Early Middle England.

My dissertation studies how changing social experiences of weaponry—specifically, the spear—in fifth- and sixth-century lowland Britain shaped emerging social relations in the post-Roman landscape. This project focuses particularly on the material vibrancy or agency of iron, and the meaningful social experiences that accompanied the shaping, use, disposal, and (in our time) curation of this material. This project, which will be defended in Spring 2018, is titled, ‘Spears in Early Anglo-Saxon England: A Social-Technological Study.’

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Examining spearheads at the Liverpool World Museum in 2014.

In 2017, I began research on a new project that will explore more broadly the impact of technological experience upon changing cultural values and social organization during Britain’s transformation from a Roman province into Early Medieval kingdoms. This project will study ways that new types and styles of material things gave rise to new ways of living, new ways of caring for the dead, and ultimately the emergence of a new, “Anglo-Saxon” culture in post-Roman lowland Britain (what would eventually become England). This project seeks to identify ways that early medieval material culture was an agent of social change, rather than merely a byproduct of changes that can be explained through external factors (be that economic collapse, or the migration of new people groups from the Continent). I present a pilot study for this project at the 2017 Haskins Society conference, focused upon the new kinds of social experience occasioned by the production, use, and disposal of hand-built fifth-century ceramic pots.

Publications

‘Spearheads of whose settlements? Recycled iron and new identities in post-Roman Britain,’ in J. Harland, M. Friedrich, and N. Gunn (eds.), Interrogating the ‘Germanic’: A category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (forthcoming).

‘Encounters with iron: An archaeometallurgical reassessment of early Anglo-Saxon spearheads and knives,’ Archaeological Journal 173 no. 2 (2016), 206-244.

A spearhead dredged from the River Thames, of possibly Anglo-Saxon date, held in the collections of the Reading Museum.

Grants & Felowships

External

  • CLIR Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources, 2015-16
  • Medieval Settlement Research Group, ‘Maurice Beresford Memorial Bursary,’ 2016 (declined)
  • Medieval Academy of America, ‘Helen Maud Cam Dissertation Grant,’ 2014
  • Historical Metallurgy Society, ‘R.F. Tylecote Memorial Fund,’ 2014 (declined)
  • Lyminge Archaeological Project, Student Bursary, 2014
  • Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, Lilly Graduate Fellowship, 2010-13

University of Florida (selected)

  • Graduate School Doctoral Research Travel Award, 2015
  • Research Fellowship, Dept. History, 2015
  • Rothman Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, 2014
  • History Graduate Society research travel award, 2014
  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, 2013-14
  • Alumni Fellowship, 2010-11

Invited Talks

  • ‘Beyond identity: The material lives, deaths and afterlife of Anglo-Saxon spearheads,’ Interdisciplinary dialogues: New work in genome research, material culture, and symbolic action in reconstructing early Anglo-Saxon cultural identity, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, November 18, 2017.

Conference Presentations

  • ‘Transformative technology: How hand-built pots reshaped early Anglo-Saxon social experience,’ 36th International Conference of the Haskins Society, UNC Chapel Hill, November 3-5, 2017.
  • ‘Transgression, transgender, or feminine power? Women with weapons in early Anglo-Saxon England,’ International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI), May 11-14, 2017.
  • ‘Portable landscapes? The selective use of recycled iron in early Anglo-Saxon England,’ The Past in the Past: Heirlooms and Curated Materials in Past Societies, Durham University (Durham, UK), May 21, 2016.
  • ‘Spearheads of the Anglo-Saxon settlements? Recycled iron and the rejection of a paradigm in ruins,’ Interrogating the ‘Germanic’: A category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, University of York (York, UK), May 13-15, 2016.
  • ‘A magical solution for a materials problem: smiths, spears, and iron in Anglo-Saxon England,’ Being Medieval, conference of the Society for Medieval Archaeology, UCLAN (Preston, UK), December 4-6, 2015.
  • ‘Women and Weapons in Anglo-Saxon England,’ Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages, University of St. Andrews (St. Andrews, Scotland), May 7-9, 2015.
  • ‘Spears, smiths, and iron in Anglo-Saxon England,’ EMASS, University of Oxford (Oxford, UK), April 24-26, 2015.
  • ‘‘Its edge is hardened by blood:’ Spears, smiths, and iron in ‘Anglo-Saxon’ England,’ Conference on Medieval Archaeology, SUNY Cortland (Cortland, NY), October 18, 2014.
  • ‘Unchaining the dead: Reconsidering the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ weapon burial rite,’ Vagantes Medieval Graduate Student Conference, University of Texas (Austin, TX), March 22, 2014.
  • ‘’Seldom will the death-spear rest’: Object Agency in Anglo-Saxon Weapon Graves,’ Conference on Medieval Archaeology, SUNY Cortland (Cortland, NY), October 5, 2013.
  • ‘Putting the Dead in their Place: ‘Pagan’ Landscapes, Execution Burials, and the Writing of History in Anglo-Saxon England,’ American Society of Church History Winter Meeting (New Orleans, LA), Jan 3-6, 2013.
  • ‘Guarding the Dead: Constructing Social Memory in West Heslerton Grave 164,’ International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI), May 10-13, 2012.
  • ‘Casualties of a Theory: Court Literature, Nobility, and the ‘Civilizing Process,’’ Medieval & Renaissance Forum, Plymouth State University, April 24-25, 2009.