The Cremation in the Early Middle Ages book project presses forward with our thirteenth interview. Furthermore, all of the earlier interviews are now transcribed. Some are in the process of being revised by interviewees and others are now back from interviewees and being edited!

The entire book project is being compiled from structured discussions taking place over Microsoft Teams, subsequently transcribed, augmented and adapted in order to present the latest research and ideas regarding death, burial and fire in early medieval North West Europe.

The project is edited by Femke Lippok (Leiden University) and me.

Here is the list of previous interviews:

Our latest interview was with Dr Austin Mason, Assistant Director of the Humanities Center for Digital Humanities and Director of the Digital Arts & Humanities minor program at Carleton College, Minnesota, USA.

Austin is an early medievalist and digital humanist specialising in mortuary practices and religious change in England between the 5th and 9th centuries. As well as a forthcoming book project titled “Listening to the Early Medieval Dead: Religious Practices in England, c.400-900 CE”, Austin teaches experimental archaeology and experimental history and is a member of EXARC.

One of Austin’s ongoing research areas is experimental applications to the study of early medieval cremation practices, so we were delighted he agreed to be interviewed for this book.

With Austin, we explored past experimental work on cremation practices and how assumptions and misconceptions have developed regarding the scale and character of pyre technologies and ritual practices surrounding burning the dead. Austin’s ongoing work is challenging these (including querying arguments I have presented), informed by new experimental research.

We also tackled the potential for further experimentation to provide fresh evaluations of other aspects of pyre technologies, post-cremation burial practices and monuments, and cinerary urns.

In addition to the implications of his investigations, we discussed the pedagogic dimensions of his experiments at Carleton College, as well as the potential for these cremations to be an integral part of public engagements at heritage sites.

Check out Austin’s experimental work here. including his work on an early Anglo-Saxon mortuary house which is amazing.