As readers of my blog and followers of my work will know, my latest co-edited book stems from the third University of Chester Archaeology Student Conference and is entitled Digging into the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Public Archaeologies. It is available for download for free here.

This is the first-ever collection attempting to tackle the many manifestations of the public archaeology of the Early Middle Ages. Inevitably there are gaps and particular themes appear more than others, but I regard this as a timely and important collective statement that contains a host of perspectives on early medieval archaeology’s many connnections and significances in contemporary society. I stand by, and I’m very proud of, the book. I say this both from an archaeological standpoint and for the many synergies it contains with cognate disciplines.

Williams DitDA cover crop

I’ve addressed aspects of the public archaeology of the Early Middle Ages many times on this blog, including the material worlds of the TV series The Last Kingdom and Vikings to the far-right appropriation of heritage sites, and the politics and popular culture of Offa’s Dyke. There is of course regarding the kerfuffle surrounding the use of the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’.

Yet this remains an under-discussed topic: many are put off by the controversy associated with it. So I was particularly delighted to have been recently invited to speak about the book to Rosie at History, Eh?. This was my second-ever podcast experience. I explored some aspects of the book and the broader context of its creation.

Dark Ages 2I address the complex and disturbing history of early medieval archaeology, some of the current controversies and popular misuses, and some of the places where you can engage with the early medieval past through museums and heritage sites. Also, I address how I came to tackle the subfield of ‘early medieval public archaeology’, building on my decades of work as a student and as an academic archaeologist. I thus explore the present significance and challenges of working on the archaeology of the 5th-11th centuries AD. Here is the link!

While I’ve been experimenting with YouTube and TikTok, I’m aware that podcasts are an established and important medium for engaging the public with historical and archaeological debates. Indeed, this is one of the topics covered in my previous book: Public Archaeology: Arts of Engagement.

I would therefore urge you to support archaeology and history podcasts, and what better place to start than History, Eh?. There are many great topics covered by Rosie and her guests. For example, linked to one of my interests, you will find an interview with Dr. Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir about her recent book Valkyrie: The Women of the Norse World  and also a podcast with Henry Delap-Smith on ‘Early Medieval Britain’. There are sure to be more exciting podcasts in the future!

To conclude, I simply want to thank Rosie at History, Eh? for allowing me to discuss this potentially controversial topic, but one that matters for anyone investigating the material traces of the mid-/late first millennium AD, their conservation, management and interpretation. I hope I get invited back someday!

History eh