An integral part of my research since my doctoral degree awarded in 2000 has been the study of cremation practices past and present. Yet, for the Early Middle Ages, few studies have repeatedly addressed the investigation of cremation practices across NW Europe deploying innovative theoretical, methodological and comparative approaches. A new book I’m co-editing with the indefatigable Femke Lippok of Leiden University aims to remedy this situation: Cremation in the Early Middle Ages.  The book aims to draw together a host of specialists to synthesise and reflect on the latest research and point out avenues for future investigations.

Having interviewed Rica Annaert, Dr Egge KnolDr Raimund Masanz, Dr Gareth Perry, and Dr Kirsty Squires, our sixth interview considered the early medieval archaeology of Argyll and connected localities in northern Britain.

Russell Ó Ríagáin has pursued his doctoral research at the University of Cambridge and his research explores colonialism, settlement and social power in medieval Ireland, northern Britain, and the North Atlantic islands more broadly. As well as working as a freelance academic editor, translator and typesetter, between 2017 and 2020 Russell worked as a lecturer and instructor at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.

We wanted to include Russell to address the mortuary practices associated with Norse settlement on both mainland and island Argyll. Specifically we wanted to learn his latest thinking, building on his 2016 article ‘Emotion and colonialism’ about the role of cremation in relation to furnished inhumation graves in this region.

We are extremely grateful for Russell’s participation!

Our aim is to combine Russell’s reflections with data and discussion provided by Dr Adrián Maldonado (Glenmorangie Research Fellow at the National Museum of Scotland) to ensure northern Britain is fully represented in our book’s coverage of the latest thinking about early medieval cremation practices, complementing Dr Gareth Perry and Dr Kirsty Squires who have tackled aspects of lowland Britain.

The book is shaping up nicely and further interviews have been scheduled through March and May!