Over the last 2-and-a-half years, I’ve written 18 Archaeodeath blog-posts reviewing dimensions of the TV series The Last Kingdom. Seventeen have focused on the mortuary practices and material cultures of a show which has engaged audiences worldwide in a fictional version of late 9th-century England adapted from Bernard Cornwell’s novels. In addition, one is a cross-over post reviewing how carved stone monuments are represented in both The Last Kingdom and Vikings.
This work relates to a series of academic publications I’ve authored/co-authored on the public archaeology and popular culture of the Early Middle Ages (Dark Ages): three on the other popular multi-series TV show representing the Early Viking Age: Vikings. Most recently, however, I have co-authored a piece with a former student on aspects of The Last Kingdom.
I might be publishing more in future: who knows?
Aware that the premiere of the 4th series of The Last Kingdom is happening tomorrow, I decided to publish a video on my newly launched YouTube channel reviewing the principal points I’ve gained in my review thus far. There is plenty to criticise about The Last Kingdom, especially given the show’s celebration of the authenticity and richness of its ‘world‘. Still, I consider it a gateway for popular understanding of the history and archaeology of the Anglo-Saxon period we should not denounce, and containing interesting storylines and materialities that open conversations about the evidence and its interpretation. Moreover, I regard it as a window (or mirror) onto our own 21st-century needs for the 9th century: what do we want it to be? In both regards, The Last Kingdom, like Vikings, deserves our scholarly attention and critical evaluation.