One of my roles as Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester is to supervise postgraduate students conducting research on a range of mortuary topics relevant to this Archaeodeath blog. In recent and past posts I have talked about some of my postgraduate research students’ ongoing research as follows:
- Joanne Kirton regarding her recent work on Cheshire stone sculpture and its spatial settings and our co-edited book;
- Rachel Swallow about her work on Cheshire Castles in Context including explorations of monumentality in the landscape and themes in landscape continuity at Criccieth and Beeston;
- Ruth Nugent who has been investigating cathedral tombs and memorials and our recording of them, as well as Anglo-Saxon graves.
Working quietly towards her MPhil as well as regularly supplying me with hot chocolate and cake during supervisory meetings to help oil the wheels of progress, is the tireless stalwart of the postgraduate community: Alison Mary Smithson. Her provisional thesis title is: Discourses in Stone: Dialogues with the Dissenting Dead.
Nonconformist worship and burial were a clear and widespread phenomenon in the landscapes of Britain, but memorial practice has hitherto received limited archaeological attention, certainly in the region around Chester.
In the thesis, Alison will explore public and private strategies of memorialisation and emotional expression as revealed by gravestones from the early 19th century to the early 20th century. Her work focuses on the investigation of Anglican and Nonconformist mortuary commemoration in north-east Wales and West Cheshire by acquiring new data from her study and designing and interrogating a brand-new database collating the rich qualitative and quantitative dimensions of memorials at a range of chapels around Wrexham and Chester. Alison’s work incorporates chapels at Penycae, Buckley, Brown Knoll and Tarporley. She will be comparing these against an Anglican sample from Overleigh cemetery, Chester.
I’m looking forward to reading her final thesis when she writes it up during 2016!