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  • Cited by 115
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
September 2009
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Book description

How were the dead remembered in early medieval Britain? Originally published in 2006, this innovative study demonstrates how perceptions of the past and the dead, and hence social identities, were constructed through mortuary practices and commemoration between c. 400–1100 AD. Drawing on archaeological evidence from across Britain, including archaeological discoveries, Howard Williams presents a fresh interpretation of the significance of portable artefacts, the body, structures, monuments and landscapes in early medieval mortuary practices. He argues that materials and spaces were used in ritual performances that served as 'technologies of remembrance', practices that created shared 'social' memories intended to link past, present and future. Through the deployment of material culture, early medieval societies were therefore selectively remembering and forgetting their ancestors and their history. Throwing light on an important aspect of medieval society, this book is essential reading for archaeologists and historians with an interest in the early medieval period.


Review of the hardback:'It is one of the great strengths of his book that it treats the whole of mainland Britain (and the isle of Man) on an even footing and over more than half a millennium bringing out this variation as well as some common themes and perhaps beliefs … for 50 years prehistorians have, perhaps rightly, deplored the intellectual simplicity of the infant discipline of medieval archaeology. This is one of the books that will make them rethink that.'

Source: British Archaeology

Review of the hardback:'Howard William's book should launch a mature, careful and temperate debate …'

Source: Journal of Medieval Archaeology

Review of the hardback:'… nuanced and insightful … thought-provoking …'

Source: Archaeological Review from Cambridge

Review of the hardback:'Howard William's excellent book is thus greatly to be welcomed as the first extended survey of how the dead were remembered in early medieval Britain.'

Source: Antiquity

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