Building on the 3rd University of Chester Archaeology Student conference, I’m pleased to give my followers a sneak preview of the likely contents of the forthcoming book with Archaeopress: Digging into the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Public Archaeologies.

Some details need to be confirmed in regards to the ordering, authorship and titles. Likewise, the front cover is currently only a provisional draft. Still, this book project which stemmed from a December 2017 student conference held at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, is nearing its final stages.

The book will include a range of pieces by former students who presented their work at the December 2017 conference, an Introduction show-casing the conference discussions, and a range of additional content by heritage professionals and academics responding to an open Call for Papers. In addition, it will include a series of interviews to complement the shorter contributions and longer chapters. The Foreword by Dr Chiara Bonacchi will set the scene, and an Afterword by Professor Bonnie Effros will reflect on the wider context of medievalism. This endeavour has been greatly facilitated by, and benefited from, co-editorship by MA Past Landscapes and Environments student Pauline Clarke. It also wouldn’t have happened without a host of anonymous referees who generously evaluated the chapters.

Hopefully, this book will be out in early 2020 at the latest.

Without further waffle, let me introduce to you what I think is the first book ever dedicated to the public archaeology of the Early Middle Ages:


Digging into the Dark Ages

Early Medieval Public Archaeologies

Edited by

Howard Williams and Pauline Clarke



Chiara Bonacchi


Public Archaeology for the Dark Ages

Howard Williams with Pauline Clarke, Victoria Bounds, Sarah Bratton, Amy Dunn, James Fish, Ioan Griffiths, Megan Hall, Joseph Keelan, Matthew Kelly, David Jackson, Stephanie Matthews, Max Moran, Niamh Moreton, Robert Neeson, Victoria Nicholls, Sacha O’Connor, Jessica Penaluna, Peter Rose, Abigail Salt, Amelia Studholme and Matthew Thomas



Dark Age Debates

Engaging the Many Publics of Early Medieval Archaeology

An interview with Adrián Maldonado


Colouring the Dark Ages: Perceptions of Early Medieval Colour in Popular Culture

Anne E. Sassin


Why do Horned Helmets still Matter?

Sacha O’Connor


Public Archaeology of Early Medieval Assembly Places and Practices: Thingvellir

Matthew Kelly


Dressing for Ragnarök? Commodifying, Appropriating and Fetishising the Vikings in Popular culture

Madeline Walsh



The Public Dark Ages


The Vikings of JORVIK: 40 Years of Reconstruction and Re-enactment

Chris Tuckley


Displaying the Dark Ages in the Museums of Liverpool and Chester

Howard Williams, Pauline Clarke and Sarah Bratton


Where History Meets Legend: Presenting the Early Medieval Archaeology of Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

Susan Greaney


Digging up the Dark Ages in Cornwall: the Tintagel Challenge and the St Piran’s Oratory Experience

Jacqueline A. Nowakowski and James Gossip


Death and Memory in Fragments: Project Eliseg’s Public Archaeology

Howard Williams and Suzanne Evans


Reading the Gosforth Cross – Enriching Learning through Film and Photogrammetry

Roger Lang and Dominic Powlesland


Crafting the Early Middle Ages: Creating Synergies between Re-enactors and Academics

An Interview with Adam Parsons and Stuart Strong



Dark Age Media


The Archaeology of Alfred the Great (1969) and The Last Kingdom (2015–)

Victoria Nicholls and Howard Williams


‘It’s the End of the World as we know it…’ Reforging Ragnarök through Popular Culture

Mark A. Hall


The Great Heathen Hunt: Repton’s Public Early Medieval Archaeology

An interview with Catrine Jarman


Vikings and Virality

Matthew Thomas


Old Norse in the Wild West: Digital Public Engagement on YouTube

An interview with Jackson Crawford


The Image Hoard: Using the Past as a Palette in Dsicussing the Politics of the Present

Wulfgar the Bard




Bonnie Effros