Femke Lippok of Leiden University and I are working on a brand-new edited collection that breaks new ground in regards to both its subject matter and its format. Cremation in the Early Middle Ages comprises of a series of transcribed, edited interviews supported by key references and images. As such, the book will synthesise recent and ongoing research on cremation practices in the 5th-11th centuries in North West Europe and identify trajectories for future work.

Taking us through SW Germany, Belgium and the northern Netherlands, the eastern England and Argyll, to date, we have conducted six interviews, with Rica Annaert, Dr Egge KnolDr Raimund Masanz, Dr Gareth Perry, Dr Kirsty Squires and Russell Ó Ríagáin. Our seventh interview was with Professor Anna Wessman, now of the University of Bergen but until recently of the University of Helsinki.

Anna is a well-established expert on public archaeology focusing on citizen science and metal-detecting debates, and the late Iron Age (early medieval) archaeology in Finland. Focusing on the water-burial site of Levanluhta, her research has tackled multiple dimensions of mortuary archaeology. You can survey her publications to date here.

Yet the specific reason we are especially grateful for Anna’s participation in the book project is because her doctoral thesis from 2010 Death, Destruction and Commemoration and her subsequent co-authored papers with me in 2017 for the book Cremation and the Archaeology of Death establish her as a leading voice in the interpretation of mid-/late-first millennium cremation practices, focusing on the Cremation Cemeteries Under Level Ground (c. AD550-1150).

In the interview, Anna summarised her past work and identified the potential for fresh enquires regarding cremation practices from Finland and their international contexts. For more on Finnish mortuary archaeology, see the newly published book Entangled Beliefs and Rituals for which I contributed a discussion piece.

There will be more interviews in coming months and the book will be published in 2022. For now, thank you Anna for joining the project!