There’s a saying in mortuary archaeology (one that I’ve only just now invented):

Don’t count your coffins until they’ve hatched

This certainly applies to my latest book project, since only now can I confirm the final line-up. Back in February 2017, I posted a blog announcing I’m working on an edited book contracted with Equinox Press called The Public Archaeology of Death.  This edited collection stems from the student Dead Relevant conference in April 2016.

The reason for leaving it until now to advertise the forthcoming papers is that, in the last 7 months in which submissions have been subject to peer-review and returned to authors, and resubmissions appraised, we’ve lost quite a lot of the contributors. Indeed, we’ve said goodbye to more contributions following peer-review than any other book project I’ve worked with: 7 all told.

I guess this shows the effectiveness of our peer-review and editorial process: not all submissions should be destined for print! Still, one of the 7 was a great paper and deserved publication: it simply wasn’t a good fit for the book and so we politely declined and parted ways on good terms.

Of the remaining 6 chapters that have been withdrawn, 2 went off in a huff (one sending a stark one-line message stating “I’m sorry but I’m out”), objecting to the reasonable suggestions of peer-reviewers and our professional and supportive editorial process. Still, at least they had the courtesy of informing us of their departure.

What has surprised me more is that a staggering 4 papers’ authors simply stopped answering our emails. In other words, they lacked the common courtesy of even formally withdrawing by sending a simple email! I’ve never faced multiple examples of this behaviour before for a single project. I’m sure they have their reasons, but without even furnishing editors with an indication of the situation, they are fopping great time wasters. Still, it remains their loss at the end of the day.

More importantly, the remaining chapters, including all those submitted by former student undergraduates who had presented at the conference, are looking superb.

The Public Archaeology of Death will feature two student co-editors and me, one a former undergraduate who organised the conference.

There will be 10 original chapters. Six of these chapters are authored or co-authored by students – four of which involving former Chester undergraduates who presented at the Dead Relevant conference.

In addition to the 10 chapters, there will be a Foreword, Introduction and Afterword to contextualise the studies.

Exploring original dimensions to the public mortuary archaeology, this book is aimed to be the natural successor to Giles and Williams (eds) 2016. Archaeologists and the Dead, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Public Archaeology of Death

Edited by Howard Williams, Ben Wills-Eve and Jenny Osborne


Foreword – Jodie Lewis

Dead Relevant: Introducing the Public Archaeology of Death – Howard Williams

The St Patrick’s Chapel Excavation Project: Public Engagement with the Rescue Excavation of an Early Medieval Cemetery in South West Wales – Marion Shiner, Katie A. Hemer and Rhiannon Comeau

Death’s Diversity: the Case of Llangollen Museum – Suzanne Evans and Howard Williams

Displaying the Deviant: Sutton Hoo’s Sand People – Madeline Walsh and Howard Williams

Grave Expectations: Burial Posture in Popular and Museum Representations – Sian Mui

Photographing the Dead: Images in Public Mortuary Archaeology – Chiara Bolchini

Death on Canvas: Artistic Reconstructions in Viking Age Mortuary Archaeology  – Leszek Gardeła

Envisioning Cremation: Art and Archaeology – Aaron Watson and Howard Williams

Controversy Surrounding Human Remains from the First World War – Sam Munsch

Here lies ‘ZOMBIESLAYER2000’, May He Rest in Pieces: Mortuary Archaeology in MMOs, MMORPGs, and MOBAs – Rachael Nicholson

Death’s Drama: Mortuary Practice in Vikings Season 1–4 – Howard Williams

 Afterword – Karina Croucher




The book will enter production in the next few weeks and will be out in 2018! I hope this whets your mortuary appetites!