There has never before been an edited academic book dedicated to cremation practices in early medieval North West Europe. Femke and my project will soon change this.

Attracting leading researchers and new voices from early medieval archaeology and related fields, our project is collating and editing a new publication in a distinctive and original way: by structured interview. Femke Lippok (Leiden University) and I are co-editing Cremation in the Early Middle Ages.

We have now conducted our 14th interview and we have only one more planned!

Meanwhile, transcription and editing on earlier interviews is ongoing.

Here is the list of the interviews completed for the book so far:

For interview 14, we talked to Dr Barbara Veselka of the Vrije Universiteit, Brussel.

Having worked as an osteoarchaeologist in the Netherlands in the commercial sector, Dr Veselka has completed a part-time PhD at Leiden University exploring vitamin D deficiency. Currently postdoctoral researcher with the CRUMBEL project, Barbara is working with colleagues to develop new methods and insights into cremation practices in Belgium and the Netherlands, including early medieval cemetery data. Her work has to date made significant contributions to series of original published studies integrating skeletal, stable isotopic and aDNA in exploring cremation in the human past. Notably, the 2021 study in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences considered health, family relationships and population mobility by investigating 73 cremation burials from the 5th/6th-century cemetery at Echt, Netherlands.

Our interview with Barbara allowed us to explore the current state-of-play in applying a battery of new methods and techniques to the investigation of cremated human remains. We addressed not only the implications of this work for the study of cremation across the globe, but the specific implications for our understanding of early medieval cremation practices in North West Europe in comparative terms.

These interviews are all proving fun and entertaining way (for us as editors and for the contributors) to draw the book project together, and our interview with Barbara was certainly no exception. But they are only the start of the ‘journey’. Transcription, editing and further input from the interviewees will be required, and each chapter is at different stages on this journey to publication. Furthermore, each chapter will be accompanied by one or more ‘fact boxes’ providing key information about a period/region/theme/theory/method to support the interview itself, and each chapter will be supported by images. Individually and in combination, the chapters will thus provide a snapshot reviewing past work, show-casing current work, and giving an opportunity for experts to reflect on the challenges and potential for future investigations.

Watch this space for more updates!