Call for Papers

Digging into the Dark Ages:

The Politics and Public Archaeology of Early Medieval Archaeology

Edited by

Howard Williams

What does the material culture of the Early Middle Ages – its graves, settlements, material cultures, architectures and landscapes – mean to contemporary societies of the early 21st century? Within the complex entanglement of archaeology with contemporary culture and politics, what specific issues are faced for the public engagement and politics of early medieval archaeology?

This book project develops from the 3rd University of Chester Archaeology Student Conference entitled Digging into the Dark Ages. This public and free day conference, organised by final-year archaeology students and hosted by the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, took place on 13th December 2017. Exploring analogue and digital mechanisms for public engagement and participation in archaeological research into the Early Middle Ages, as well as popular and political appropriations of the Early Middle Ages through its archaeology, student talks were joined by two keynote speakers: Dr Chiara Bonacchi (University of Stirling) and Dr Adrián Maldonado (National Museum of Scotland). Together, the conference constituted the first dedicated event debating the reception of the Early Middle Ages via archaeological investigations.

The proposed book will build on this event. It will constitute the first-ever collection on the topic, incorporating the select proceedings of the student’s research, joined by especially commissioned chapters and papers solicited via this open Call for Papers. Key themes to be addressed by the collection  include:

  1. investigations of community archaeology projects focusing on early medieval archaeology and the public outreach dimensions of academic and commercial archaeological projects;
  2. critical explorations of the present-day management and interpretation of historic landscapes, heritage sites and museums with prominent/significant early medieval dimensions;
  3. explorations in the media use and abuse of early medieval archaeology;
  4. discussions of social media and other digital engagements with early medieval archaeology;
  5. investigations of the artistic, literary, filmic, televisual and video game portrayals of the Early Middle Ages;
  6. critical discussions of the political, religious, fringe and popular cultural uses and abuses of the Early Middle Ages via its archaeological evidence.

These chapters will be contextualised by:

  1. a Foreword by an expert in public archaeology and early medieval archaeology;
  2. an original Introduction by the editor reviewing previous and recent research in the public engagement and politics of early medieval archaeology;
  3. an Afterword by an archaeologist also innovating the study of medievalism and its material dimensions.

This collection is therefore innovative in both its range and content, as well as being distinctive in its contemporary focus on the intersection of public archaeology, the politics of the past, and early medieval archaeology. It is also original in its development from a student-led research conference.

A publisher will be approached once a clear set of  papers have been collated.

To propose a contribution, email me – – with a title and 150-word abstract by 1st May 2018.