SKAGAFJÖRÐUR CHURCH AND SETTLEMENT SURVEY
The Skagafjörður Church and Settlement Survey (SCASS) - run by John Steinberg, Douglas Bolender, Brian Damiata and Guðný Zoëga - seeks to determine if the settlement pattern of the 9th-century colonization of Iceland affected the development of the religious and economic institutions that dominated the 14th century. The research builds on combined methods and results of two projects. One has focused on Viking Age settlement patterns. The other has been investigating the changing geography of early Christian cemeteries. Together, the research seeks to understand the connections between the Viking settlement hierarchy and the Christian consolidation. Check out the SCASS blog for more info.
My contribution from 2013-2015 as a Master's student at UMass Boston was to determine the depth and thickness of Viking Age household midden deposits in the Langholt region of Skagafjörður. Combined with tephrachronology (using volcanic ash layers to date deposits), the thicknesses of cultural deposits were used to calculate the accumulation rate of middens as a proxy for househould wealth. This could then be used to see how the order of settlement impacted long-term patterns of inequality. See my MA Thesis for more details.
LIVED EXPERIENCE IN THE LATTER MIDDLE AGES
Between 2010 and 2014, the Lived Experience in the Late Middle Ages project - run by Matthew Johnson as a joint partnership between Northwestern University, the University of Southampton and the National Trust - carried out topographical, geophysical and building survey at four different late medieval sites and landscapes in south-eastern England, all owned and managed by the National Trust: Bodiam, Scotney, Knole and Ightham. Studies were also undertaken into documentary, map and other evidence. The final publication, edited by Matthew Johnson, presents this work and discusses its archaeological and historical importance. Centrtal to the project are the linked ideas of lived experience and political ecology in presenting a new understanding of late medieval sites and landscapes. See the Project Website for more information.
My work (2012-2014), resulting in an undergraduate honor's thesis and a publication in the journal Medieval Archaeology, put the sites of Bodiam, Scotney, and Ightham in the context of other moated sites in the region. Somewhere between two and three hundred other lesser-known moated sites dot the counties of Kent, East and West Sussex, and Surrey. Today, the vast majority of these are little more than a ditch surrounding an inner island. Others, like La Mote near the village of Iden, are equally as impressive as Scotney or Bodiam in terms of their archaeological footprint, but they rarely contain standing structures today. While some scholars argue that moats were built primarily for defensive purposes, many archaeologists believe that these lower-status households were mirroring their higher-status neighbors in a form of social emulation. Moving beyond this debate, I focused on how these landscape features were experienced by different classes in medieval society and how this experience reinforced the social realities of medieval life.